Jewelry By Sue

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Opening and Closing Rings for Chainmaille Jewelry

Opening rings:

Place a pair of chain nose pliers in your right hand and a pair of flat nose pliers in your left hand. Pick up a ring with the flat nose pliers placing the opening of the ring in the twelve o'clock position. Have the end of the pliers fairly close to the end of the ring, probably in about the eleven o'clock position. Place your arms in a comfortable position with the pliers angled slightly downward from the ring. Again, it is important that you are comfortable when holding the ring with the tools. While holding the ring with the flat nose pliers in your left hand, grasp the ring at the one o'clock position with the chain nose pliers that are in your right hand.

Now one is ready to open the ring. Pull the end of the ring toward you with the chain nose pliers that are in your right hand. Hold the other end of the ring steady in the flat nose pliers. Pull the ring toward you far enough to be able to thread it through your chain maille pattern, which usually does not pull them too far apart.

Important points: Always pull the rings open (from front to back). Never pull them apart (from side to side). If you pull them apart from side to side they will go out of round. One will usually never be able to get them back into round. I recommend discarding a ring that becomes out of round.

Closing rings:

While holding the ring in the same position as described above, press slightly inward with the pliers as you pull the ring closed. In doing this, pull the rings back and forth (wiggle) with the ends passing the point at which they would meet, until one gets the smallest space possible between the ends of the ring when the ends are lined up with each other. One can usually get four to six good wiggles out of the rings when closing them. This movement helps to heat up the bottom of the ring and hardens it into a stronger one. One does not have to do as many as five or six wiggles, only if needed to close the ring. There is always the danger of "work hardening" the ring. This occurs when one opens or closes the ring too much and it becomes almost brittle. If a ring becomes work hardened, I recommend discarding it. Once a ring is closed well, there should be no noticeable gap between the ends of the ring. The ring should feel smooth when one runs the finger across the closure of the two ends. It is important to remember to give a slight inward pressure on the ring at the same time that one is closing it. The ends of the rings may make a clicking sound as one takes them back and forth. This is ok. It just means that the ends are touching as you are wiggling them, which is good.

Opening and closing rings is a learned skill. One needs to become comfortable in working with the tools as well as in moving the rings in the appropriate manner. Do not become discouraged if your first rings do not close as well as you like. With practice you will improve.

Enjoy making your chainmaille jewelry!

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