Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder. The beauty of this chain is that it is very stable and not easily broken.

Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop

by Judy Larson
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Chain Making, Butane Torch Techniques
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
The beauty of this chain is that it is very stable and not easily broken. And it is really easy to make. Argentium, used here, and fine silver wire fuse beautifully and there is no fire scale. Soldered rings can be more finicky to work with. Before a chain can be drawn down, it should be annealed. If heated too much, the solder could re-flow, soldering the shaped rings together so not using solder, but fusing, is the way to go! Practice your fusing skills to make these beautiful chains. You may end up wanting to make many more of them because they can become addicting to make

Materials

20 Gauge Half Round Dead Soft Argentium .940 Silver Wire
H19-20HRD
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 5FT
  • Price: $7.58
  • Gold Club Price: $5.69
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Tools

8, 10, 12mm mandrels
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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French Shears - Straight Shear with Spring
SHR-530.01
  • SHR-530.01
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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  • Price: $25.97
  • Gold Club Price: $19.48
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Rosewood Draw Plate for Vise
G28-7
  • G28-7
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  • Price: $17.97
  • Gold Club Price: $13.48
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GB2001 Self-Igniting Butane Micro-Torch
TRCH-GB2001
  • TRCH-GB2001
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  • Price: $84.95
  • Gold Club Price: $63.71
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Magnesia Soldering Block
SOL-455.00
  • SOL-455.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $7.95
  • Gold Club Price: $5.96
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Round Nose Wire Pliers
G2-507
  • G2-507
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  • Price: $32.95
  • Gold Club Price: $24.71
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awl
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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Flat Nose Wire Pliers
G2-506
  • G2-506
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  • Price: $32.95
  • Gold Club Price: $24.71
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Pickle Pot, 16 Ounces
CLN-584.00
  • CLN-584.00
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  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $31.95
  • Gold Club Price: $23.96
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Thumlers Tumbler Model MP-1 Rock Tumbler Kit
G34-101
  • G34-101
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  • Price: $119.11
  • Gold Club Price: $89.33
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NATURE'S TOUCH CITRIC PICKLE, 2LB PLASTIC JAR
CLN-163.00
  • CLN-163.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $17.95
  • Gold Club Price: $13.46
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Instructions
Step 1
Read through the tutorial before starting the project. Follow all safety precautions pertaining to the tools and supplies being used and the space you are working in.

It is a good idea to make short practice chains to help you decide which chain, single or double, and which size link would work best for you. Each of the chains shown on a one-inch grid have been pulled through a drawplate once to even the shape of the rings. They have not been tumbled so are a bit stiff. Each chain has been made with ten shaped rings. The top two chains are Single Foxtail Chains and the bottom two are Double Foxtail Chains. From top to bottom, the mandrel sizes used to make the 20-gauge fused and shaped rings for each chain are: 8mm, 10mm, 10mm, 12mm.
How much wire is needed?
This depends on which chain is being made as well as how long the chain needs to be for the jewelry item being made. The harder the wire temper, the more spring the wire has. That means it takes a bit more wire to made the same size coil as the same gauge in a softer temper. Some people coil wire tighter or looser than others. Since I fall in the middle, the measurements and numbers shown here are approximations to be used as a rough guide.

Five foot lengths of 20-gauge Argentium wire were cut. Each was wound on a different size mandrel. The mandrels, from top to bottom: 12mm, 10mm, and 8mm.

Mandrel Size Coil Length Rings Cut From Coil

12mm 1-1/8" 34 rings
10mm 1-3/8" 41 rings
8mm 1-9/16" 52 ringa
Make and cut jump rings for the chain you will make. A single loop-in-loop chain, with 10mm ID rings is the easiest chain to start with. If you are comfortable working with smaller pieces, a single loop-in-loop chain made with 8mm ID rings is also doable.

Do not make smaller rings with 20-gauge wire until you know how supple a chain made with 8mm rings is, especially after it is pulled through a drawplate to even out the interlocked rings. Double loop-in-loop chains are made with 10mm and 12mm ID rings. The 10mm chain is the more difficult of the two. This is because shaped rings that are not shiny and smooth do not fit together easily. Each chain is very stiff until it is tumbled, at which time the chain will become more flexible.These chains do not look and feel all that great until the final steps are completed, so be patient and be prepared to be wowed!
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, mandrels for making jump rings
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Step 2
Close all the jump rings. 10mm and 12mm ID jump rings can be closed using your fingers. I personally find that a bit more difficult to do with the 8mm jump rings so use two inexpensive wide jaw flat nose pliers to do the job
Step 3
Place the rings on a soldering block. It is helpful to place the rings on the block with the seam facing away from you. That way, when heating to fuse them, you will know where to watch.

Heat each ring separately. The ring will turn frosty before it becomes shiny. At that point it is ready to fuse. Watch for the ends to fuse together and IMMEDIATELY remove the heat. Repeat the process with all the rings.

This is a boring task and it is easy to let your mind wander, especially when fusing over100 rings that it might take to make a simple necklace chain. If a brain wander moment does occur, a ring may shrink in size, such as the ring on the bottom right of the second photo. Set it aside to use as the first or last link in a chain.

The seam on the ring on the left was not tightly closed. Allow it to cool. Turn it over, heat the ring slightly and then try to fuse just that area - the ring on the right. If for some reason the ring seam was not tight enough and the ring ends start to ball up, there is no saving the ring - center ring. However, continue to ball it. It will be a perfect embellishment for a later project.

Allow the rings to cool naturally before moving on to the next step.
Pro Tip: If quenched too soon after fusing, the metal and/or join may crack. After fusing all the rings and allowing to cool for 20-30 seconds, dump them in a metal bowl set on a bench block. They will quickly cool and be ready to use
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, jump rings to solder
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, fused jump rings
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, fused jump rings
Step 4
Use the tips of a round nose pliers to stretch each ring into an oval shape. Be careful as the rings can go flying. It is helpful to use a pair of round nose pliers with jaws that are not shiny. The dark jaws of the ones shown here are not shiny smooth and therefore have a bit of grip to hold the rings in place.

Option:Ring opening pliers are wonderful. There are grooves to hold a ring in place and the jaws open when the handles of the pliers are squeezed.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, stretching a jump ring
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, stretching a jump ring
Step 5
Not all the rings may survive the stretching process. Some may break open completely and fly off the pliers. Others may break but not completely open. In my mind, the word "chunk" describes what I feel during stretching a ring when a fused join becomes compromised and cracks before opening completely. This is an easy fix. Just close each ring (the top pointy end of the rings in the photo), place on a soldering brick, and fuse again
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, stretched jump rings
Step 6
Use the tips of a round nose pliers to squeeze the center of each oval together into a "bowtie" shape. Again, the rougher jaws of these pliers help keep the shaped rings from flying off the work table, never to be seen again. If during this process a fused seam starts to crack open, just refuse that end of the shaped ring
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, squeezing the jump ring
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, squeezed jump rings
Step 7
Each chain photographed on a 1" grid is made with 10 links. The top chain is made with 20-gauge 8mm ID Argentium rings. The bottom chain is made with 20 gauge 10mm ID Argentium rings. Both have been drawn down to 3/16".
Even when the chains are pulled through a round hole, they remain square. 108 20-gauge 8mm ID rings make a chain that, drawn to 3/16", lengthened to 17-5/8". With a clasp, it will be 18" long. It measures 3.5mm wide on one side and 4mm wide on the other. The drawn chain will fit a 4mm ID end cap/cord end.

Note: If a finer chain is desired, use 22 gauge rings made on a 7mm mandrel. Remember, the smaller the parts, the more fiddly a chain is to make.
Center a bowtie shape centered between the tips of a round-nose pliers. Form the bowtie into a "U"shape by bending over one of the tips of the pliers using your fingers. Repeat the process with all the links.
Pro Tip: Since the rings were work hardened by forming the bowtie shapes, bending many of these into a "U"shape can be uncomfortable on your fingers. Annealing the bowtie shapes before starting this step could be helpful, but is not necessary.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, bendiing the jump ring links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, bent jump ring links
Step 8
Attach a twist tie or a 3" scrap wire to the bottom of one of the "U" shapes. I used a twist tie so the cut wire ends would not poke and scratch while making the chain. The twist tie should be replaced with wire before drawing the chain down to even it out
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, put a twist tie on the first link
Step 9
Slide a new "U" shape into the first one as shown, by placing one side of the "U" shape into the "hole" of the first link (photos 1,2, and 3). Pull the second link up and into the rounded tip of the first link. Pull it into alignment with the first link (photos 4 and 5).
Pro Tip: I am right-hand dominant but through my 30+ teaching years, I learned to do many things left-handed, but not well. My brain, however, did not and still does not want to easily interpret left-handed photo directions. You may have trouble with these chains because they worked from left to right for all us righties. Just copy the photos and reverse them.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, two links of foxtail chain
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Step 10
The next "U" shape is added to the second one in the same manner as in the last step. If there is difficulty inserting the "U" shape into the previous ring, the opening in the previous ring can be opened/rounded a bit using an awl.

Awls used here are shown in the third photo. The stiletto end of the silver one is much narrower than the turquoise handled sewing awl.The tip of the awl is pressed and twisted into the opening, helping to make the opening better able to accept the new "U" link - fourth photo. If this does not work, lightly squish (love those technical terms!) one side of the "U" shape to be added.

If you can see the fused end, try to avoid doing this to that side as the excess stress on the join may pop it. The new narrower side of the "U"should easily slip into the previous "U". An awl or the tips of a chain nose pliers can be used to re-round the squished side of the link after it is inserted and pulled into line with the previous link - fifth photo
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, awls
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, connecting foxtail chain links
Step 11
Continue to add new "U" shapes to the chain until it is a bit shorter than the desired finished length.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, adding links to foxtail chain
Step 12
You will notice that the chain links are not even. Don't worry. The chain will become more even if drawn down through a drawplate. You may also notice that the chain is not very supple and there are places where it kinks. Don't worry. The chain will become more supple and shiny after tumbling.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain links
Step 13
Before using a drawplate, the chain should be annealed. Softening the links makes it easier for the links to compress into a more even size and shape when pulled through a drawplate.

Remove the twist tie or scrap wire. Place two soldering bricks side by side to lay the chain out. That way, it is less likely that part of the chain would be overheated, thus fusing some of the links together.If the chain becomes dark pinky orange or red, it has been heated too long and some of the links will have fused.

Moving along the chain with the torch flame, it only needs to be heated until there is just a slight hint of color which will go away as you move down the chain. Allow the chain to cool naturally on the soldering bricks before moving it.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Step 14
Even though there is no fire scale to be removed, it may be helpful to pickle the chain at this time. Rinse and dry the chain before continuing
Step 15
Add a scrap piece of wire to the beginning end of the chain. Twist the scrap wire ends together. Use a pliers with teeth to grip the wire to pull the chain through the drawplate.

Start with a hole that is larger than the chain. Work your way down the drawplate until there is resistance in the pull. Pull the chain through that hole three or four times before going down to the next hole.

Only two sizes can be drawn down before the chain needs to be annealed again. This chain was drawn down only two sizes with resistance in this drawplate.
Pro Tip: If you want to see what a chain will look like if drawn down too far, make one with 10 links and see what will happen. That way, an entire chain will not be ruined if it is drawn down so far that it becomes really stiff and tumbling will not help
Chains made with either 8mm or 10mm rings can be drawn down to 3/16". The smaller chain made with 8mm ID rings will become stiff and no longer be supple if pulled down one more step to 11/64".

The chain made with 10mm ID rings can possibly be pulled down one more step with a little loss in flexibility. Remember, even though the draw plate holes are round, the chain remains square.
This is the drawplate I made for Viking Knit and used to draw down all the chains in this series. It would have been better if made with walnut or maple, but oak is what I had in my shop, so that is what I used and it seems to be working fine, even after 15 years of use.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, drawplate
Step 16
To become more fluid and supple, the chain can be tumbled in water with Dawn dish liquid and steel shot for several hours.
Judy Larson's Foxtail Chain aka Loop-in-Loop - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, foxtail chain