View Full Version : Intro & an idea: swap lampwork tutorial for handmade chain tutorial in SF Bay Area?

07-10-2002, 09:54 PM
Hello All-

Thanks for creating such a friendly, dynamic group that a newbie like me feels comfortable posting!

My name is Tom Colson and I have all of about 3 days of torch time under my belt. Even with that short experience, I fear I am hooked. I was lucky enough to receive a 2-day, informal lampworking tutorial from the friend-of-a-friend. It was a great, low-stress introduction to the medium. I made a whole pile of ugly beads and had a blast doing it. I'm now set up at home with a simple HH & disposable MAPP bottle rig and enjoying making lots more ugly beads. No way to anneal them yet so it is all practice.

I'm coming to lampworking from a background of working in various media, with a focus on clay and metals. My interest in clay is longstanding and focused on tiles (if you think tiles mean that boring, flat stuff from the Home Depot, check out www.tiles.org (http://www.tiles.org) !) My work in metals (mostly silver and copper) is about a year old now and my focus (obsession?) is on handmade chains. The draw of lampworking is that I want to try to create unique focal beads to go with these chains.

Anyway, enough with the background! Last night as I was contemplating how to improve my meager knowledge of glass, it occurred to me that there might be someone out there who would be interested in learning about something I *do* know about...making chains. This thought coalesced into the idea of finding someone in the SF Bay Area who would be willing to swap a day of learning about making chains for a day of teaching me about the fundamentals of lampwork.

What I'm looking for in a tutorial is more reinforcement of the most basic forming and decorating techniques. Right now I can barely melt a gather and wind onto a mandrel, can't make dimpled ends to save my life, and my use of a marver makes me think a better name would be a masher (hey, at least I know what I *should* be doing :)). I'd prefer to hook up with someone who has taught before (even informally) so that this wouldn't be an unnatural act :).

What I'm offering in a chain making tutorial is flexible. I am willing to teach whatever you want to learn! My passion is cold-worked chains (mostly made from rings) but I've also made many chains from hard-soldered elements (the sky's the limit here on the type of construction). I've taught successful cold-worked chain workshops before (pats self on back :)) and I would be willing to bet that I can teach anyone who can work hot glass to solder silver. Getting set up to create soldered chains implies an investment in tools and equipment that is on par with getting set up for lampworking (although anyone with an oxy/propane lampworking rig has already made a big piece of the investment). Stunning cold-worked chains can be made with a very minimal investment. For the tutorial, I would of course supply the tools, equipment and materials for what ever we decide to make.

Anyway, I hope this doesn't sound too wacky to all of you! If anyone is interested in discussing this further, please let me know...


Tom Colson

PS: Do most folks read this forum *and* the ISGB forum? If not, maybe I should cross post this over there too...?

07-10-2002, 10:17 PM
Welcome to WC Tom:clap:

More Artists here on WC...

07-10-2002, 10:25 PM
Tom, Welcome! I'm sure you'll find an interested lampworker in the Bay Area. Glad you are enjoying your glass arts, and the combination of glass with your metal skills sounds like a perfect pair.

It might serve you as well to also post your question on the ISGB forum, as it has more viewers, but you won't necessary receive as many written responses (go figure!)

Good luck! Valorie:cat:

Shirley C.
07-10-2002, 11:58 PM
Hey, Tom, where are you? I'm in Fremont. Let's chat!

07-11-2002, 12:02 AM
Hey, Tom - wish I lived in SF area! I love chain-making (only know the very basics) and would love to learn more. Would you consider posting an article at some point! Also, please post pics of some of your chains - I'd love to see them!


07-11-2002, 12:05 AM
Tom- Welcome to beadmaking and to WC!

07-11-2002, 12:58 AM
Hi Tom,
Welcome to wetcanvas! Please post some pics of your chains! I took a metalsmithing class last year and got to make two chains (plus some other stuff)and it was so thrilling!
There is another website called www.beadexchange.com, Ingrid has created a directory of other beadmakers, perhaps it will help you find someone in your area.

07-11-2002, 01:04 AM
Hiya Tom,

Welcome to WC! There are lots of lampworkers in your area, it seems. Good luck in finding someone! I would volunteer if I wasn't on the other coast...well, & then there's that problem of me not really doing much lampworking yet... :p Would love to see some pictures of your chains.


07-11-2002, 02:07 AM
Welcome to WC, Tom. I too love making chains. Do you cut your own links? Saw, jump ringer tool or by hand. So many steps just getting set up, like glass too I suppose. You should be able to find plenty of resources near you. Show us some of your work.

07-11-2002, 12:15 PM
Thanks for the warm welcome and the responses to my query. I will definitely post some of my work for you to see...as soon as I get a decent image of some of it. My digicam is too lame to take good closeups, but maybe I can get something useful from the scanner.

Shirley, I'm in Sunnyvale, so lets definitely chat!

B2, I'd be glad to post an article at some point. I need to think a bit about what would be the best content. Most of the basics that can be easily shown in a book are already available in a few *great* books that are in print.

Laurie, re: cutting the links: I do them all myself. Commercially available jump rings are just too darn expensive and only available in a few sizes & materials. I followed the natural progression...started by just clipping rings with cutters, hated the pointy ends on the wire, moved to sawing by hand w/ jewelers saw and discoverd how painfully slooooow that was, and I now use a (relatively) inexpensive version of a jump ringer tool I found via the Orchid metalsmithing list. I also created a simple tool to make the wire coils in any diameter I choose and now it takes me about a minute to make a 50-100 ring coil (depending on wire gauge) and another minute to cut the rings. :)

Valorie, thanks for the cofirmation about cross-posting to ISGB forum.

Thanks again for your help!


Shirley C.
07-11-2002, 12:42 PM
Tom, we're practically neighbors! I worked in Sunnyvale in the late '80's, early '90's. I'd love to meet up with you some time.

Also, I sent you a private message. Hope to hear from you soon!

07-11-2002, 01:56 PM
Hi Tom,

Would you be so kind as to list of few of your favorite books? I'd love to explore that medium more.


07-11-2002, 02:18 PM
Here is an excerpt from my workshop handout that lists all the books you will ever need to get going making chains. All are still in print and our pals at Amazon would be glad to send them to you :)


No Soldering Required
Great Wire Jewelry : Projects and Techniques
by Irene From Petersen
A great book for both knitted chains and chains made from rings.

All Wired Up
by Mark Lareau
The only book I've ever seen that shows you how to actually make all those great wire shapes

Soldering Required
Making Silver Chains : Simple Techniques, Beautiful Designs
by Glen F. Waszek
A huge variety of soldered-link chains and some nice clasps, too.

Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains
by Jean Stark
The standard text for this type of elegant chain.

07-11-2002, 02:23 PM
Thanks so much, Tom! Will check them out.