Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Making Chain, Chain Making . Why use Argentium to make chains?  Argentium fuses beautifully, meaning no soldering.

Handmade Chunky Chain

by Judy Larson
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Chain Making
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Why use Argentium to make chains? Argentium fuses beautifully, meaning no soldering. Where sterling silver has a grayer cast, Argentium is a beautiful bright, white metal. Rhodium is a bright white metal and is used to plate many findings, such as clasps, to keep them from tarnishing and stay bright and shiny. These bright plated findings and clasps pair beautifully with chains made with Argentium. Don't worry, everything can still be patinated, if you desire.

Materials

14 Gauge Round Half Hard Argentium .940 Silver Wire
H19-14H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 5FT
  • Price: $64.70
  • Gold Club Price: $48.53
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18 Gauge Round Half Hard Argentium .940 Silver Wire
H19-18H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 5FT
  • Price: $24.08
  • Gold Club Price: $18.06
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Tools

The Quad Jump Ring Former
DUR-1312
  • DUR-1312
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $380.00
  • Gold Club Price: $285.00
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7 Piece Mini TruStrike Hammer Set with Stand
HAM-520.70
  • HAM-520.70
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $140.54
  • Gold Club Price: $105.40
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Bench Blocks - 130 X 130 X 20
DUR-1187
  • DUR-1187
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $65.33
  • Gold Club Price: $49.00
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Silver Solder Paste Medium SS70 - 1/4 T.O.
SOL-822.15
  • SOL-822.15
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $18.95
  • Gold Club Price: $14.21
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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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Chasing Hammer - Flat Faced with Polished Wooden Handle - Pack of 1
G3-13
  • G3-13
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $11.97
  • Gold Club Price: $8.98
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Deluxe Soldering Kit
G15-5
  • G15-5
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $116.97
  • Gold Club Price: $87.73
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Instructions
Step 1
Read through the tutorial before starting the project. Follow all safety precautions for the space you are working in as well as all safety precautions pertaining to the tools and supplies you will be using to complete the project.

There are many tools to choose from when making coils for jump rings. In this tutorial, metric mandrels were used but there are many tools you may already use that can make coils to cut into jump rings for this project.
Choose one or more mandrel pliers that will barrels to make two different sizes of large rings as well as the smaller connecting rings.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jump ring making tools
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jump ring making tools
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jump ring making tools
Step 2
Make the jump rings needed for either Version A or Version B chain.

Note: I made a short bracelet length section of both versions of this chain so they could be "auditioned" with the focal elements one was destined to be used with to see which I liked more than the other. My personal preference in many projects is to use two connecting rings as one seems a bit unfinished to me in a chain this size. Remember, you are the designer so use what looks the best and works for you.

Version A:

14 gauge round Argentium wire, 9mm (appx. 3/8") ID and 7mm (appx. 5/16") ID rings

18 gauge round Argentium wire, 4mm (appx. 3/16") ID rings

Version B:

14 gauge round Argentium wire, 9mm (appx. 3/8") ID and 6.5mm (a little over ΒΌ") ID

18 gauge round Argentium wire, 4mm (appx. 3/16") ID rings Note: You may find it easier to work with 4.5mm jump rings-See Steps 14-16
How many rings of each size are needed depends upon the size of the rings and the length of chain needed. The rings used in the chains made here, set on a one-inch grid, give an idea of the number of rings used to make six-inch lengths.
Note: To avoid two joins being inadvertently soldered together, the first set of rings in each version is fused. There is then no worry about where that join is in relation to the next join when soldering, which prevents rings from inadvertently being soldered together. The joins can be soldered but it is more fiddly trying to keep all the joins away from each other.

VERSION A-the easier of the two versions: Smooth
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , handmade chain
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , handmade chain
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , handmade chain
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , handmade chain
Step 3
Close all the small rings and place them on a soldering surface. Fuse all the small rings using a small blazer torch. Allow the rings to cool before moving them.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , close all the jump rings
Step 4
Open all the large heavy gauge rings. Here, the smaller of the two heavier gauge rings was used to start the chain. Add two small connecting rings to the open large ring-first photo.

Note: Depending upon how closures will be added to the finished chain, one or more extra rings can be added to the large ring. Close the large ring. Place a small dot of medium paste solder under the seam in the ring and place the assembly on a soldering surface-second photo. Using a torch head on butane canister, heat the seam area until the solder flows. Be careful not to heat the rings so much that they will fuse together. Allow the unit to cool before continuing.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , add two jump rings
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , join the large jump ring
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , solder the large jump ring
Step 5
The main rings in the chain alternate between the larger and smaller of the heavier gauge rings. Add two small connecting rings to a larger of the two heavier gauge rings - first photo. Slip the larger heavy gauge ring through the two small connecting rings on the smaller heavy gauge ring - second photo. Close the ring. Solder the ring closed as in Step 4.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , alternate two small rings and one large
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , alternate two small jump rings and one large
Step 6
Add two small connecting rings to a smaller of the two heavier gauge rings-first photo. Slip the smaller heavy gauge ring through the two small connecting rings on the larger heavy gauge ring-second photo. Close the ring. Solder the ring closed as in Step 4.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , add a smaller ring
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , connect the rings
Step 7
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until the chain is the desired length.

Step 8
Clean and refine all the solder joins on the heavier gauge rings.

Step 9
Pickle the chain and then neutralize it in baking soda water. Rinse the chain in clean water and then dry it.

Step 10
Tumble the chain to bring up a shine before attaching to focals and/or closures.
VERSION B: Hammered
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , hammered chain
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , hammered chain
Step 11
Texturing the large rings after making VERSION A chain can be done, but it is more difficult to accomplish without damaging the connecting rings. Because of this, the large rings will be made and hammered first.

Close all the heavier gauge rings and place them on a soldering surface. Fuse all these rings using a torch head on butane canister.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , fuse the large rings
Step 12
This step may not be necessary. The joins may not be perfect, which is fine since texturing disguises imperfections. Refine any joins on both sizes of the heavier gauge rings that may be necessary.
Step 13
Place the rings on a bench block.

Use a flat faced hammer to slightly flatten each ring which will make the rings just a bit larger. If they become too large, the connecting jump rings used in Steps 14-16 may need to be swapped out for larger ones.

Use the large side of a Mini TruStrike Embossing Hammer to texture both sides of each ring.
Pro Tip: Save your fingers. Hold a jump ring in place on the bench block with a tool such as a half a clothespin while texturing.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , place the rings on a bench block
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , hammered rings
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , hammer the rings
Step 14
Open all the 18 gauge connecting rings. Add one of each of the textured heavier gauge rings to an open connecting ring. Close the connecting ring.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , add one of each size ring and close the ring
Step 15
Dig a trench in a magnesia soldering block that will hold the large rings-first photo. Alternatively, lean the large rings against the tweezer tips of a third hand-second photo. The connecting ring seam should be touching the soldering surface away from the heavier gauge rings.

Place a small dot of medium paste solder under the seam of the connecting ring. Use a small blazer torch to heat the ring until the solder flows.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , dig a trench in a magnesia block
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , place the rings to be soldered in the trench
Step 16
Connect the hammered rings with a second connecting ring-first photo. The rings are held perpendicular in a trough in the soldering block. It is OK if the hammered rings overlap just a bit because the connecting rings will be shaped into ovals in Step 21.

Match the seam in the second connecting ring with the soldered join of the first ring. Place a dot of medium paste solder between the connecting ring seams, which are facing up between the two hammered rings that are level with the soldering surface-second photo. Press the connecting rings together. Use a small blazer torch to heat the rings until the solder flows-third photo.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , place the rings in the trough on the block
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , let the large rings lie to the side
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , solder the rings
Step 17
Repeat Steps 15 and 16 with all the rings.
Step 18
Connect all the units made in the same manner as Steps 15 and 16 until the chain is as long as desired.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , solder the jump rings
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , solder the jump rings to build the chain
Step 19
Clean and refine all the connecting ring solder joins.

Step 20
Pickle the chain and then neutralize it in baking soda water. Rinse the chain in clean water and then dry it.

Step 21
Use flat nose pliers to shape each set of connecting rings into an oval shape.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , squeeze each ring into an oval
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , squeeze each ring into an oval
Step 22
Tumble the chain to bring up a shine before attaching to focals and/or closures.
Judy Larson's Handmade Chunky Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , tumble and add a clasp