Judy Larson's Jen's Chain, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Making Chain, Chain Making . Have you ever finished a project and then realize you do not have the right chain to finish it?  It happens to all of us, especially since chain in too expensive for many of us to keep a variety on hand on the off chance we might use it.
Jen's Chain
by Judy Larson
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Chain Making
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Have you ever finished a project and then realize you do not have the right chain to finish it? It happens to all of us, especially since chain in too expensive for many of us to keep a variety on hand on the off chance we might use it.

That happened when I was finished with the sterling silver metal clay focal piece featuring a stone found by my daughter-in-law, Jen, on a favorite beach.

Materials

18 Gauge Round Half Hard .925 Sterling Silver Wire
H8-18H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 5FT
  • Price: $18.69
  • Gold Club Price: $14.02
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16 Gauge Round Half Hard .925 Sterling Silver Wire
H8-16H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 5FT
  • Price: $31.54
  • Gold Club Price: $23.65
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Tools

5 Piece Steel Mandrel Set
G7-5
  • G7-5
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $12.95
  • Gold Club Price: $9.71
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C.H.P Milano Italian Flush Cutter, 5 1/2 Inches
PLR-487.00
  • PLR-487.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $14.97
  • Gold Club Price: $11.23
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Metal Cutting Shears
SHR-536.00
  • SHR-536.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $14.97
  • Gold Club Price: $11.23
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4.5 Inch Flat Nose Mini Pliers
G2-88
  • G2-88
  • Lesson Quantity: 2.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 2.00 each
  • Price: $4.97
  • Gold Club Price: $3.73
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Blazer ES-1000 Angled Head Micro Torch, Black
TRCH-1002
  • TRCH-1002
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $74.95
  • Gold Club Price: $56.21
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Aqui Flux, 1/2 Pint Spray Bottle
SOL-932.03
  • SOL-932.03
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $6.95
  • Gold Club Price: $5.21
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Ceramic Soldering Board 6in
SOL-465.10
  • SOL-465.10
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $21.57
  • Gold Club Price: $16.18
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Premium Soldering Pick with Shield
SPK-777.00
  • SPK-777.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $23.95
  • Gold Club Price: $17.96
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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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Silver Solder Paste Soft SS65- 1/4 T.O.
SOL-822.10
  • SOL-822.10
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $16.95
  • Gold Club Price: $12.71
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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: $54.00
  • Gold Club Price: $40.50
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Instructions
Step 1
Directions: Read through the directions before starting the project. The Soldering Trifecta Class with Kim St. Jean is a great introduction to soldering and would be helpful in making this chain.

Use this photo to determine the number of oval links needed for your project. Your oval links may be shorter or longer than these, but should all be uniform in size. As you can see, 9 oval links connected with round links will make about 4 inches of chain.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 2
Wind 16 gauge wire around a 5mm mandrel and 18 gauge wire around a 3.5mm mandrel. If a mistake or an oops is made during the construction of the chain, it is advisable to make more rings than are needed. Here, a drill was used to make the coil. Hint: Wubbers Oval Mandrel Pliers come in four sizes to make oval jump rings and components.
The jump rings can be cut from the coil using flush cutters. Lindstrom Multi-Purpose Shears are another alternative. To save time and make more accurate cuts, a saw or a jump ring cutting system can be used.

Wrap painters tape around the coil (not needed if cutting with flush cutters or shears) to keep the cut rings from ending up on the floor, never to be found again. Here, a jump ring cutting system made quick work of cutting the jump rings. Save all that silver dust or flush cutter trimmings to recycle in projects from Kim St. Jean's Low Tech Casting class.
Pro Tip: After cutting each size of jump rings, store them in separate small see-through boxes, small dishes, or plastic bags so they do not get mixed up.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 3
Use two flat nose pliers to close the jump rings. It is very important to make sure the ends are perfectly flush.
Step 4
Decide on the method to be used to make closed jump rings, or sealing the ends together.

Argentium wire was used to make the chain because it fuses beautifully and there is no solder cleanup. It is easy to overheat, though, and end up with a blob of silver instead of a fused ring. It takes a bit of practice to achieve good results.

If using gold filled, sterling, or base metal wire, solder must be used. The rings shown are made using 16 gauge wire. The top row shows finished rings and the bottom row shows the method used. Left: fusing Center: medium paste solder Right: medium chip/sheet solder Note: Use a smaller piece of chip solder than shown.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 5
Place only the 16 gauge rings on the solderite board, openings all facing the same direction in four rows of 4. Either fuse or solder the rings closed. 16 gauge wire is on the cusp of being too thick to fuse or solder quickly with a small butane torch. It may be preferable to use the Handy Flame Butane Torch head on a butane canister on these larger rings.
A-Fuse: To fuse, move the flame around the ring. Carefully heat them until the wire surface goes from dull to very shiny and slightly molten. The seam will fill in and fuse. Hint: Practice on two small wires so you can see the stages progress. Immediately remove the heat. Let the rings cool on the board. Flip them over. If the seam is not fully fused, repeat the process from that side. Note: Argentium can become brittle and break if immediately quenched so wait for a bit before moving any jump rings or quenching them. Hint: The rings may be stuck to the board. To cool them faster (after cooling for at least 30 seconds) and help them to release from the board, sprinkle or spray them with a bit of water.

B-Chip/Sheet: If soldering with medium chip/sheet solder, flux the rings first, then place the solder under the opening. Pick soldering is another (preferable) method when using chip/sheet solder. Heat the rings until the solder flows up the seam. Let the rings cool on the board. Flip them over. The rings may be stuck to the board. To cool them faster (after cooling for at least 30 seconds) and help them to release from the board, sprinkle or spray them with a bit of water. If the seam is not fully soldered closed, repeat the process from that side.

C-Paste: If using paste solder, this is not needed as the flux is in the paste. Flux will, however, help prevent fire scale so it is a good thing to use. Place a small amount of paste solder under the opening. Heat the rings until the solder flows up the seam. Let the rings cool on the board. Flip them over. The rings may be stuck to the board. To cool them faster (after cooling for at least 30 seconds) and help them to release from the board, sprinkle or spray them with a bit of water. If the seam is not fully soldered closed, repeat the process from that side.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 6
Pickle, rinse and dry the 16 gauge rings. Clean the solder joins so there are no lumps.
Pro Tip: Small wire baskets for use in pickle pots are available and make it MUCH easier to remove the jump rings from the pickle.
Step 7
Use flat nose pliers to gently flatten the 16 gauge jump ring into an oval shape. Center the fused or soldered seam in the jaws of the pliers. That way, the seam will be hidden by a connecting jump ring in the finished chain. First squeeze one end slightly, turn the jump ring around and squeeze the other end. Repeat this process until an oval shape is achieved. This process put a great deal of stress on the seam. Watch it closely and if it starts to open, re-fuse or resolder before continuing the process. Re-soldering can only be done if the opening is extremely small. The opening can be only as large as shown if re-fusing. It needs to be much smaller is heating to get the solder to reflow into the opening.
Pro Tip: The heavy gauge of the wire and their small size make it difficult to get the tips of a round nose pliers into them to pull them into an oval. I found I had more control and could go slower using flat nose pliers. If a larger ring is used, then a round nose pliers can be used to pull them into an oval shape.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 8
Place an oval link on a bench block. Use the narrower side of the Mini TruStrike Sharp Designer Hammer to texture around the link. Repeat with all the links. As with forming the oval, hammering can place stress on the seam so be careful. Do not worry if the links become different sizes. Hammering will do that. The size difference will not be noticeable in the finished chain.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 9
The links have been work hardened through texturing. Anneal, pickle, rinse and dry the links.
Step 10
The second side of each link will be textured so the texture on the first side needs to be protected. Rummage through your throw away containers to find a thin piece of plastic. The center plastic on the lid of a container of whipped topping is about as thick as the plastic should be. If the plastic is too thick, the link will bend and cup. If it is too thin, the texture on the first side will be flattened. Cut a piece of plastic to fit on the bench block. Place a link texture side down on the plastic. Use the narrower side of the Mini TruStrike Sharp Designer Hammer to texture around the link in the same manner as the first side. Repeat the process for all the links.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 11
Place each link and use a small rubber or plastic mallet to flatten them. The texture on the first side of the links may be deeper than the second side. Keep that in mind when connecting the links in Step 13. Set a few textured links aside in case they are needed to lengthen a chain.
Step 12
Carve a depression in the surface of the magnesia soldering block that will fit two textured links side by side.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 13
Connect two textured links with an 18 gauge 3.5mm ID jump ring. Use two flat nose pliers to close the jump ring. It is very important to make sure the ends are perfectly flush.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 14
Nestle the two links in the depression on the magnesia block. Make sure the seam of the 18 gauge jump ring is facing out, away from the textured links. Place a small amount of easy paste solder or a small chip of easy solder under the seam. Remember to flux if not using paste solder. Use small butane torch to heat the seam until the solder flows. Immediately remove the heat. Continue to connect the oval links in sets of two. Clean up any excess solder. Set a few sets of two links aside in case they are needed to lengthen a chain.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 15
Connect two sets of two textured links in the same manner. Clean up any excess solder.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 16
Connect and solder the sets of four textured links, cleaning up the excess solder as you go, until the chain is the desired length. Attach a closure to one end of the chain. Use the set aside single and double textured links to obtain the desired chain length. Hint: The extra 18 gauge jump rings make a great chain extender.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , jens chain
Step 17
Pickle and rinse the chain. Tumble to polish and work harden the chain.
Step 18
Patina if desired. The chain will have a soft, brushed surface after patina. Tumble again for 30 minutes if a smoother more polished surface is desired.
Judy Larson's Jen's Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , Jens chain