Goal: Make a chain for my friend, Sir Istvan, that has that bulky An Tir look but without neck-crippling weight.
Inspiration: Roman loop-in-loop chains
Earrings, 2-3rd century, gold and garnet, Christie’s, Sale 2770, Lot 5628146.
Note this is a DOUBLED loop-in-loop. Each link goes through two below it instead of one. I considered this style, but it would have been more than twice as heavy, since I would have needed longer links. I used 12 gauge brass wire.
Right: Chain for a small oil lamp. I took this photo at the traveling Pompeii exhibit (chain made 79 CE or earlier) when it was in Seattle.
This simple SINGLE version is made by
- Making a jig (two nails in a tabletop) and bending wire around it in a coil.
- Cutting the coil to create identical rings.
- Soldering the links. The join needs to be very strong to withstand the bending in the next step.
- Bending into horseshoe shape.
- Linking the individual loops.
- Joining the ends of the chain.
I wanted a continuous chain, so I created the last connecting loop by bending the wire in place and soldering it closed. Note that meant I had to cut that link differently, so the join was accessible after the bend. I used a wet paper towel to protect the previous solder joins during this procedure. The last step was polishing.
Soldered links, not yet bent or polished.
What would I do differently: In a perfect world, I’d have used gold. The cost of gold (currently $1547/ounce) prevented that. Also, I would have liked my solders and polishing to be more perfect. I am bouncing between borrowed studios right now (thanks to Fjorlief and Cathyn for their generosity!), and using equipment I’m not familiar with added a layer of difficulty. I can clearly see the difference in the joins done with the different torches, and will probably remake this once I get my home studio completed. I’d love to use period methods, but lack the literal slave labor and time that makes that accessible.