March 1st, 2009

anvil, ring

(no subject)

I took apart the single loop-in-loop chain that was too open for the experiment I had in mind, and made a new chain with the links- this one a 2-direction, single weave. MUCH nicer! And I had just enough links to make a nice bracelet length as well, for the WIN!

Now I'm debating the ends. I'd planned on a simple hook-and-loop or toggle, just so as to not make things more difficult than they need to be... but the 2-direction chain doesn't really lend itself to these very nicely. Unless I come up with something clever, I'll need to go with endcaps. And endcaps add a fair amount of effort (though they look very polished!), because I can't even use premade tubing for these; the rest of the bracelet is Argentium, and I want to keep the metal 100% Argentium. This means I'll need to make the endcaps out of sheet- and the chain is square in cross-section, so the endcaps might have to be too... though maybe I can make round ones and use a mandrel to give them a round-cornered square shape.

And then- what kind of catch? Maybe a nice forged and decorated s-hook, if the endcaps have integral loops...

...Thus roughly doubling the amount of work in the bracelet, of course! OK, maybe not doubling, but adding extra to what had been intended as a quick project..! (Just like I usually end up doing. Sigh.)
anvil, ring

Some notes on loop-in-loop chains and Argentium

In general, I'm definitely enjoying making classic LinL chains using Argentium rather than fine silver. For thinner wires- especially 24-ga. and smaller (0.5mm), Argentium is a LOT easier to fuse than fine. The difference between the melting point and the flow point is a huge help here. (It's also kinda fun to see what happens when one overheats an Argentium link- usually instead of the join splitting and the ends beading up, the whole ring just magically SHRINKS. And yes, I am easily amused!)

I also really like the fact that the whole bracelet can be hardened after it's made. Bracelets take an amount of abuse second only to rings, and the sturdier I can make them, the better!

One small downside of using Argentium rather than fine silver, though, is that it does behave differently. For example, some LinL chains' specifications for gauge and mandrel size are less effective with Argentium than with fine silver. Fine silver tends to stretch in the forming process- and Argentium doesn't. This can leave one with links that are slightly too small to make weaving a chain easy, and even if one does so, one ends up with a denser chain than desired. Thus far I and others I work with have had reasonably good results keeping the mandrel size the same and decreasing the wire gauge 2 sizes (example: using 22 ga. rather than 20 ga.), OR increasing the mandrel size when winding the wire for the loops.

It is also advantageous, when fusing links at 20 ga. (0.8mm) or larger, to flip the rings over and make sure the other side is fused as well when using Argentium. I have generally not found it necessary to do this for 22 ga. and smaller.

In short: I am increasingly fond of Argentium for fusing applications. For me, it's been both easier to use AND makes sturdier results than the same techniques in fine silver.

The worst downside- apart from but related to its lower melting point- is that Argentium is not especially compatible with enamels- another love of mine.