Friday 22 December 2023

Silver Chain Bracelet Workshop

 Over the past couple of weeks I've been visiting the Frensham Old Barn Workshop to learn how to make a silver chain bracelet.  I had been due to do this as one full afternoon, however they had to cancel it so asked if I'd like to join some of their morning groups so I could still have a go at making one.

I of course said yes!  With all the glass beads I'm making, I'm starting to think about what I might do with them and maybe bracelets are the way forward?  And even if it didn't work for my beads I'd still be learning a new skill.


Firstly I had to cut lengths of silver wire, then bend them into loops and melt the ends together to form a silver ball.  I quite liked this process as I did each thing 17 times to create 17 links, which is a brilliant way to learn to do something.

After they had all been melted they had to go into the pickle for a clean.  Maybe 5 to 10 mins.  I imagine if I was doing lots of this sort of thing I might have several projects on the go at once so I wouldn't have to wait with nothing to do.


Once out of the pickle the silver looks very dull, but is at least clean.  Now I could bend each link into shape, first giving each loop a waist then bending them over.  Then I had to thread them together.  Once you've worked out how to do this, it's pretty easy, but it was tricky to get started.


With all the links linked together I then made the clasp.  This one is just like the rest, except it is melted together while attached to the rest of the bracelet.

With everything linked together it went back into the pickle.  At this point it felt very lumpy and didn't have the flow you expect from a chain.  To fix this we pulled it through some holes drilled in plywood.  I went down to a 7mm hole.  Suddenly all the links were the same size and it moved nicely in my hand!  


Lastly it was put in the barrel tumbler to polish.

While it did that and as I had some time left, Beth our tutor asked if I'd like to make a simple ring. 


So I selected some square silver wire, twisted it, cut it to size then soldered it together.  I was a little sad to find it didn't fit, but Beth had a special machine which stretched it for me!  Hooray!  This also went into the barrel tumbler to polish.


When we tipped it out I couldn't believe how shiny they both were!  The bracelet looked amazing and I put it straight on.  I am so impressed with it.  I hadn't really expected to end up with something I can wear, but it's lovely.


The ring was a little rushed as I had to leave on time for another appointment, so where it's been soldered isn't as nice as I'd like.  However, I've got some old tools from when I did some silver jewerlly making years ago and I think I can tidy it up and give it the finish I'd like.


I'm dead chuffed with what I achived over the course of three morning sessions.  The Old Barn is lovely and really well equipped.  I'm thinking about maybe joining some of their evening sessions, where you can bring your own projects and use their equipment and ask for help.  Everyone I met seemed so nice.

A lovely make to finish the year on.  

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