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Well, I guess from the title what I am going to write about today. Alas, don’t be too sure because I promise you there are a lot more moves along the way that you just have to work it out by yourself. Of course, one can have lessons but seeing that I am going at this on my own, it’s quite the learning experience.

There’s design, materials, dealing with temperatures, little tips and tricks that work for that person but not for you? Yes, I have been to all these places on my recent attempt to make a multi-metal chain link bracelet and a pair of earrings to match. Originally the idea was to make a long necklace because that’s what “they’re showing”…ha ah ha ah (snooty laugh).

I have several books, a couple of great DVDs (thanks ML) and of course all the sites and YouTube for some how-to instructions. Funny thing, someone invariably leaves out a step or a piece of information that keeps you scratching your head and saying, “how thick did she mean?” or “what size/thickness wire you need.” This bugs me to no end especially when I re-read for the fifth time that in fact all the information was there from the beginning but that didn’t matter because you already posted, “HELP” or emailed or called friends across the country for instruction which is almost impossible to give because they can’t see it!

This time I started taking shots of the project in different stages. The greenware, after firing and polishing and so on. I did learn something valuable from the hubby. Wear latex gloves when you are sanding fired metal. That silver can get into your skin. It works but you just don’t feel that whole organic thing. I am sure you all understand THAT feeling. Say no more, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Making the linked chain really, really, required me to be organized. Of course I was terrified AGAIN to begin. All the instructors say take everything you need out; arrange them in an ergonomic fashion (easy to get to) and be sure to oil, clean all the tools and last but not least, clean your surface area. This makes me laugh. Do you know how many surface areas I have? I have a rather large smoked glass sheet on little rubber feet, a piece an nice size of ceramic square and one of those green “do everything on this because you can measure it out”. Normally I always stacked one on top of the other. Not a good idea. I’m five feet and this was just getting a bit too high for my arms. Seriously. Besides, I am not that deep.

Back to business. I always would like to know the purpose of something I have to do before I do it. So when they say, cut a big circle, put away the excess clay around, then cut a smaller circle inside, remove it completely and just add it to the excess clay, I say why? Why can’t I just cut out a circle with a hole in the middle? Maybe that’s how they should explain it. “What you want to do is to cut out a circle with a whole in the middle.”….and then go on as to HOW. And of course there is the thickness with the slats, the cards, the plastic mold things. I’ve tried them all. One thing I am sure of, I am the type of girl who has to tape them down on each side. These guys move around.

Alrighty then. I “create” my first circle. I am supposed to let it dry, bone dry, leather dry…what is LEATHER DRY? Please an explanation. What comes to mind is a weather beaten but tanned face of an old wise woman and I am sure that is not what they mean. So I slide the circle (it’s not a link yet) onto a card then onto the mug warmer.
First, I have learned to let it air-dry a bit. See, here I should have a card ready and keep the mug warmer beside me instead of on the opposite side of the table.
You should see me running back with the hot dry pieces that I almost drop on the way.

Rinse and repeat. Now I have to green ware links. the pros can make several at a time and fire some and plan it out and well, I was overwhelmed and I just said make the chain bigger than my wrist because it is tiny. After I put the same moves on this unsuspecting piece of clay, I now have two links. Hard part. Here it comes. The moment I dread.

I have to cut a little wedge in one circle, keep the cut piece on hand, put the whole other circle onto your now cut piece and simply wet the ends and put back in the edge. I think I did that 1400 times. OK, I am exaggerating. 400 times. It never worked for me. So I tried paste…mmm, not so good. Then overlay. Still no satisfaction. I make a whole new link and finally it works. My husband sticks his head in and sees what’s going on. He figures at this rate, I could be old and gray with that LEATHER skin…and suggests he cuts a very thin line in the silver pieces (more malleable) and add them together like that. I cringe. This is not pure. Magically, I breathe in and out and say SURE!

All of this has been going on for a week or so. And I am keeping an eye on my quantities of clay. I’m not one of those rich girls who can just order up a new set of clays and a couple of 50 grams of silver. To be honest, it is hard for me to work outside the house because I do have some good and bad days since my transplant. But I digress.

Alrighty then. All of the links have been made and fired and sanded and shined up and all I need to do is make a toggle bar. Easy right? Not. My mind goes blank. I look at the directions in five books and watch seven videos. How does this work. My friend, who knows nothing about making jewelry, says “It’s like a Duffle coat. You put that long piece through the hole.

Now I have to make a the right size toggle piece in length and thickness accounting for shrinkage, not too small or big, just wide enough that it goes through the links easily. Yeah, alright. I practise with play clay. Of course this falls apart when I try to use it. Another component is to insert a piece of U-Shaped wire into the toggle piece. I don’t know if I have the right wire. If what I have laying around is silver, fine silver, argentinium or Alcan foil.

This WHOLE affair about how and in what order to do this with the least amount of firing is driving me nuts and I still don’t understand the mechanics of what any 2-grader would know.

As I write this, all the components are drying on the mug warmer. God willing, they don’t break when I gently sand them and the proportions are right when the are fired.

I need closure. I need to move on. I need lessons.