Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Making Chain, Chain Making . Paper clip chains are a classic and wonderful additions to any jewelry wardrobe.
Make a Fused Paperclip Chain
by Judy Larson
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Chain Making
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Paper clip chains are a classic and wonderful additions to any jewelry wardrobe.

This sophisticated chain is so sleek that it will not compete with a focal but will enhance whatever it is paired with.

Because of its simplicity, this chain is also the perfect chain to pair with other chain styles for a layered look.

It is amazing how just a little bit of wire can make such a great impact!

Materials

18 Gauge Round Half Hard Argentium .930 Silver Wire
H19-18H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $3.29
  • Gold Club Price: $2.47
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20 Gauge Round Half Hard Argentium .930 Silver Wire
H19-20H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $2.28
  • Gold Club Price: $1.71
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22 Gauge Round Half Hard Argentium .930 Silver Wire
H19-22H
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $1.24
  • Gold Club Price: $0.93
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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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Blazer GB4001 Stingray Torch, Silver
TRCH-4004
  • TRCH-4004
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $49.95
  • Gold Club Price: $37.46
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Fire Brick
SOL-485.00
  • SOL-485.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $15.95
  • Gold Club Price: $11.96
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Deluxe Titanium Soldering Pick, Blue Handled, 6-1/2 Inches
SPK-930.00
  • SPK-930.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $5.97
  • Gold Club Price: $4.48
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4 Saw Frame with Tension Screw
SAW-334.00
  • SAW-334.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $21.97
  • Gold Club Price: $16.48
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Instructions
Step 1
BASIC INFORMATION

When working up a new chain link, it is a good idea to practice with copper because it is inexpensive and easy to work with. Working up a few short lengths of copper paper clip chain in different sizes to have on hand will give you a better idea what wire gauge and size chain might be best paired with a new jewelry design.

The metal content as well as the temper of the wire used will slightly change the finished length of a link. Therefore, for your personal reference, it is important to keep track of measurements, sizes, gauges, metals, etc., of the chains YOU make on the blank chart. The Paper Clip Chain Chart contains my reference numbers for dead soft copper wire. My measurements are not standard by any means. They are just what I use for my chains. Use the chart as a starting point for your paper clip chains. Adjust the measurements to make chains that will work best with your vision for a piece of jewelry.
Argentium is great because there is no fire scale to deal with and, most of the time, the rings can be fused.

For these chains, an 8mm mandrel was used to make coils with both 16 and 18 gauge wire.

When I start a project requiring jump rings, I make 3" long coils, or whatever length my remaining in a particular gauge wire will make. The shorter coil here is 18 gauge, the longer coil is 16 gauge. There were enough rings in the 18 gauge coil to make three bracelets. The 16 gauge 3" long coil made an 18" necklace and a bracelet.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 2
Wrap each coil in painter's tape. Run Cut Lube along one side where the coil will be cut into rings. Cut lube helps to extend the life of the saw blade used to cut the rings. Note: If cutting the coils into jump rings using flush cutters, this is not necessary.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making ,
Step 3
Cut the coil into jump rings using your preferred method. Years ago when I found I was using a LOT of jump rings, I decided to invest in a jump ring cutting system, which I love. The cutting process throws silver dust into the air so wear a dust mask. Place a piece of newspaper or two under the vise that holds the cutting box. Collect the silver dust to melt down later. The cutting system makes quick work of cutting the rings, and the cuts are perfectly straight.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 4
Close half the rings and open the other half.
Step 5
Place the closed rings on a soldering surface, openings all facing the same direction. Fuse the rings. A butane torch head on a butane canister is used for 18 and 16 gauge rings. A micro torch would be used for 22 and 20 gauge rings.
Fusing Directions: 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 rings so you can see the stages progress. Immediately remove the heat. Let the rings cool on the soldering surface. Flip them over. If the seam is not fully fused, repeat the process from that side.
Pro Tip: Practice on two small rings so you can see the stages progress. Immediately remove the heat. Let the rings cool on the soldering surface. Flip them over. If the seam is not fully fused, repeat the process from that side.
Pro Tip: 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. Argentium can become brittle and break if immediately quenched so wait for a bit and then move them to a bench block. The block will help the rings cool quickly.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 6
Clean up any uneven seams, if needed, using files and sanding sponges. Do this throughout the chain making process.
Step 7
Use flat nose pliers to gently flatten the jump rings 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 puts 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 if heating to get the solder to reflow into the opening.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 8
Connect two closed and shaped rings with an open ring. Place the unit on a soldering surface with the shaped rings opposite the opening of the connecting ring. The connecting ring should be flat on the soldering surface, so it may be helpful to put the shaped rings in a depression on the soldering surface. Heat the unit, but concentrate the heat on the connecting ring seam until it fuses. Be careful to not fuse the connecting ring and shaped rings together. After 30 seconds, remove the fused unit from the soldering surface and place it on a bench block to cool.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 9
Shape the round ring.
Step 10
Connect a clasp to the end of a three-link section using a small jump ring. In this case, a 20 gauge 3mm ID jump ring was used. Because the jump ring is so small, and the heat needed to fuse it would melt it (the clasp and the chain act as heat sinks) as well as damage the spring mechanism in the clasp, use easy paste solder to close the seam.
A note on clasp choice: If the clasp is to connect to a shaped ring and not an extender chain, make sure the clasp will open far enough to easily slide onto the chain link.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 11
Make another three-link section. With an open ring, connect it to the three-link section with the clasp. Fuse the connecting ring seam.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 12
Shape the round ring.
Step 13
Since size small bracelets were being made, only one more three-link section was added. After that, add links one or two at a time.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 14
Fourteen links seemed to be the magic number.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 15
Adding extender chains made with 20 gauge 4mm ID jump rings make bracelets adjustable for larger wrists.

The top bracelet is made with 18 gauge rings and the bottom is made with 16 gauge rings. Since the same size mandrel was used for both, the finished length of each bracelet is almost the same.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain
Step 16
Pickle and rinse the chains. Connect the chain ends to make it less likely they will get tangled together with each other. Tumble them for several hours to bring up a nice shine. This close up gives a good idea of how close in length the two different gauge links are.
Judy Larson's Make a Fused Paperclip Chain - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Making Chain, Chain Making , make a fused paperclip chain