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Thursday, August 9, 2012

All Chained up

Well, following on with my theme of work progression I thought I would blog about my boro chain making and its still evolving state :-)

I started making some boro glass chain work after seeing a gorgeous necklace made by a lampworking friend that was a little bit...... organic in shape.  After some serious thought I came to the conclusion that I could make chain and fairly neatly if my idea worked.... off to the torch I went!  Here is the very first boro chain I made.  I made alternating Amber and clear links, partly so I could see where I was on the job and partly because I wanted something a little different than just clear at the time!

First boro chain work - 2009
At first to get my links really neat and round I used a piece of thick walled stainless steel tubing my husband Leo got for me at a garage sale which I clamped onto my workbench.  I could then heat the rod roughly to the length I required to wrap around the tubing then finished off each link using punty's (holding the work with a rod of glass for the unitiated).  If the shape was not quite right a large diameter graphite reamer did wonders.  Then came the tricky bit.... the joining links!   I found out fairly quickly that it was easy to accidentally fuse one link to the other.... accidentally face the flame past the link you were working on and cracking another one.....etc...etc.   I quickly worked out that working up under the flame was the way to go and using a small torch like a minor made the job fairly easy to be honest.

I made the chain...... I liked the chain..... but........ the chain was boring!  Yeah, I know I could have used different colour links, but that was not challenging enough..... enter... the dongle!

Momka sunflower cane murrini dongle necklace
Yep, following a good hot shower that nicely stimulated the grey matter, I decided to insert a section of rod through each link with a small marble at each end....... oh, clearly it worked, but OMG was it a nightmare to heat.  I found at this point that fighting the weight of the glass as the necklace built was very difficult and badly complicated how well sealed the punty should be.  To overcome that I made up a little wooden stand that I could sit the majority of the work onto underneath the torch... yeah it got scorched, but I reckon it saved the work from having a cracker of a time (if you get the pun) LOL   I also found a few problems with keeping the work warm given the large volume of glass on the first marble end when putting on the second one..... yep... many a crack occurred for sure!

I tried different dongle ends as the fancy hit me... bumpy ones, helix twist ones, murrini ones:


Bumpy dongle necklace
helix dongle necklace

Its sad to say, but I went through a real "dongle" phase.... everything got dongles on it, fun and fiddly, but time to move on again.  Thats when I decided I would try making some actual chainmaille in glass.... this is a fairly simple pattern, but it turned out quite well I thought


boro glass chainmaille

At this point I decided to go back and revisit the chain links itself...... coloured chain links made out of helix twist rod came out rather nice, but was a bit busy when put all together.... so I made some work using an alternating clear link!

Blue helix twist alternating Chain links
Then I had a play with the shape of each individual link.... here is my triangle necklace.  It sits rather awkwardly off the neck, but surprisingly looks really great when worn.  Bright and different, but definitely for the person who has some real sense of self and is a little bit out there I reckon!

Triangle chain necklace

I came up with another way to decoration the chain what would satisfy my need for fine stringer work (something I actually enjoy quite a bit) and still use the boro chain.  I made a couple of these necklaces, a gumblossom floral one and this ocean themed surface decoration chain linked necklace.  They were a ton of fun to make, but incredibly fiddly and I don't even want to think about the investment in time they took me, but they came out really beautiful in the end.  I am thinking I might make myself one of these, but flowers and butterfly murrini or something similar.

A glimpse of reef


I can't really say where I am heading with this chain work, but I know I am definitely not there yet.  One of the nicest ones I made was just clear chain, with clear dongles.... it looked like drops of water around your neck.  I am thinking I might make a clear fine chained small dongled clear one next..... that might look quite nice I think!

Seaspray necklace - clear chain, clear dongles


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