Sunday, October 11, 2009

Making Lemonade from Lemons

As I continue to learn new techniques in the art of silversmithing, I find I am using more and more expensive materials. This makes mistakes very costly. My most recent new venture was learning to fuse fine silver wire to make an open loop in loop chain. I took a class from Iris Sandkuhler from California. It is a really cool technique. It involves making fine silver jump rings and then carefully heating them so they are fused closed. No soldering or pickling is required. Then the rings are elongated and folded and connected to make a beautiful chain that should look something like this:

So I purchased some fine silver wire which is of course almost pure silver and more expensive that sterling silver. I made a whole bunch of jump rings. In fact I almost used an entire ounce of wire. It takes a lot of rings to make a necklace.

Then I started fusing rings. After I had fused quite a few, I began to elongate and fold, expecting to begin my beautiful necklace. I wanted the links to be a little smaller than those we had practiced with in class. When I started connecting them I realized that they were too small and after the first two links they wouldn't fit together no matter how hard I tried to maneuver them.

I wasn't about to waste all those beautiful rings so I started thinking about how I could save my mistake. I decided to create my own chain design and this is what I came up with.

It was quite a challenge because as I was connected the rings I had to fuse the round ones after they were connected to the others without melting the whole thing. It gave me some good practice at controlling my torch.

Once the chain was complete I made a clasp and attached some beautiful Watermelon Tourmaline faceted teardrop beads. Here is the final result.