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Handmade Chains

Whomever posted that handmade chains are essentially a thing of the
past is (fortunately) quite mistaken. Perhaps their reference was
intended towards the commercial production of precious metal chain in
general. Like Tony Konrath and Dave Sebaste, I agree that nothing
else compares with a well made handmade chain.

For the better part of the past decade the main focus of my body of
work has been on hand made crochet chains fabricated in 18kt gold,
and I have spent thousands of hours developing and refining my
crochet technique. It is my meditative activity to produce this work
and I have been rewarded by having my necklaces featured in numerous
jewelry magazines, as well as with an award for my crochet from the
World Gold Council.

My crochet necklaces can take anywhere from 20 to 70 hours, just to
produce the chain itself, plus the additional fabrication time for
the clasp and settings when there are gemstones involved. I invite
you to take a look at some of my recent work at the following link:

I would encourage everyone to make a handmade chain at least once,
simply for the feeling of accomplishment and the aesthetic
satisfaction that its completion will surely bring.

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_David_Sturl1 Michael Sturlin
Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA

Hi Dave,

Those chains you make are beee-utiful! They've got that mirror like

finish we’ve been hearing so much about! Quick question for you. I
also hand make chains for the occasional “discerning” (i.e.
well-off!) client, and was wondering if you actually solder each link
using a torch, or do you have a soldering machine like a Sparky or

As a matter of interest, you can see one my earlier personal chains
at this link:

The clasp is a little rough on that one, and the jump ring has been
bent in and out of round a number of times to facilitate removal of
various pendants, but I love my chains, they have some sort of soul
that the machine made items just do not possess, and I have much more
confidence in them lasting, as I can personally vouch for the
integrity of each link. Right now I am torch soldering, and it’s
time-consuming to say the least. I am hoping at some time in the
future to make all -THAT- work “a thing of the past.”

If it’s not too much to ask, how have you streamlined this process?



I make my own chains for the larger pieces I do. It is the only way
to get I can get a “complete” look. Yes, it does add significantly
to the price. I call it “value added.” I find that it enhances my
image," You made the chain too? That is patience and skill! Wow." It
also sets us apart from the herd.

Have you tried the Uralite Kiln from Rio Grande - appx $130.00. You
can fuse the links instead of soldering. The links are large - 1/2
inch or s o- each link can be fused, attach another - fuse, etc.
Place the link on the heated plate, pass the torch (small tip) across
the joint and the fu sion happens quickly. You may have to buff at
the joint - but it works! Also, it is easy to fuse bezels with this
method. I use silver so I don 't know if gold works as well.

Good luck.


was wondering if you actually solder each link using a torch, or
do you have a soldering machine like a Sparky or something? 

Hi Drew,

Thanks for the kind words! I’ve had this same question offline from
a couple people, so I’ll “come clean.” This chain is straight out of
Tim McCreight’s Complete Metalsmith book. Page 139 (in my edition),
3rd from the top. It is a clear case of “just do it.” All this
knowledge and these books don’t do any good unless you put them to
use make some of the stuff! I know most everyone has this book, or
should if they don’t!

For those of you who don’t have the book at your fingertips, only
the first two links on each end are soldered. In this "rope"
construction, each link is joined by four others (through the
previous two, two more through it), adding a lot of strength. I also
polish the chains in my vibratory tumbler (stainless steel shot) for
hours, resulting in a degree of additional work hardening and the
mirror finish that would be difficult to achieve with a buffer.

The only thing I’ve done to streamline the process is use one of
those jump ring winder and cutter setups that allows me to make
hundreds of uniform jump rings in a matter of half an hour. The three
tools you’d have the hardest time getting me to give up, in order,
are my flex-shaft, my BenchMate™, and my jump ring tool
(commercially “Jump Ringer”).

P.S. I also do single link “cable” chains. Each link on this type of
chain is soldered, and I use the old-fashioned chip (paillion)
soldering technique. I’m pretty fast at it, but its still slow. For
those of you who want to start here, be sure to look at Complete
, p. 138, on the topic of “Assembly Sequence.” You don’t
want to take the approach of just soldering one link onto the end,
one after another.

P.P.S. The toggle clasp is from Rio Grande. A hammer handpiece
makes setting the cabs in the toggle a dream.

Hope this answers some questions out there!


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Andrew Horn, You’ve asked how to streamline the production of hand
made chain.

  1. Produce the links using The Jump Ringer - not by hand sawing.

  2. If you use solid wire, make and close half the necessary rings.
    Then solder these on a board using a solder pick to apply solder.
    Once you have these done, connect them with the unsoldered links and
    solder them closed. You’ll find this method much faster than
    soldering all the links after assembly.

  3. To avoid having to apply solder to each link, you might look into
    the use of solder filled wire. This is a little more costly but it
    does save time.

Ray Grossman Ray Grossman Inc. Manufacturers of Jump Ringer

i love making the chain to crocheted pieces, or wire wrapped pieces.
i have been working with the rather un-classy looking wooden spool
and 4 nails i hammered in to create a double knit sudo viking knit
chain. the 24ga is just beautiful done in silver and i may actually
get the feeling back in my left thumb.

i also crocheted a chain using the afghan stitch first row as the
piece is worked first as a chain(left to right, then picking up
stitches right to left, then working off the stitches left to right
again…and the first segment is done so you chain the required
amount again, work the piece back and forth until you get to the
length you need. beads can be added between the segments, and it is
a lovely chain.


pat moses-caudel
wild poppy designs…

Try the Uralite Kiln from Rio Grande - appx $137.00, page 88, Order

703 -016. You can fuse the links instead of soldering. Each link

can be fus ed, attach another - fuse, etc. Place the link on the
heated plate, pass the torch (small tip) across the joint and the
fusion happens quickly. You may have to buff at the joint - but it
works! Also, it is easy to fu se bezels with this method. I use
silver so I don’t know if gold works a s well. This jewelers kiln -
5 1/2 inches w x 5 1’2 inches d x 6 1/2 inc hes h - has been
specifically developed for granulation and for firing ha rd enamel on
metal. Good luck.

Michael, your chains are beautiful! I have been messing around
knitting siler, fine silver, and 18k chains, and thoroughly enjoy it.
If you don’t mind me asking, what gauge are you using? You were
truly deserving of that award!

Lisa Hawthorne

I’ve made a few different handmade chains, but I can’t imagine
anyone paying me enough to make up for how much of a chore it is.

I do very short lengths of plain linked chain to attach dangly
earrings to the wires. Three or four links are enough, or sometimes
more than enough, and those almost don’t qualify as chains.

I did some ordinary chain, made with very fine wire coiled in small
loops; it was great soldering practice, since I hate things that
break easily and soldered every link. If I ever do more of those,
I’ll have to spring for a jump-ringer or coil cutter, whatever,
because making those jump rings is pretty tedious.

I’ve made a couple of knotted chains, which some of you may have
seen when I was in Tucson, and actually sold one choker of flat
silver linked knots.