Sterling Alphabet Letter Bracelet

Carol Jenrette from Seminole, Fla., came up with a unique way to combine her love of fabric with her flair for metalsmithing. This is her sterling silver link "letter" bracelet textured with Japanese silk.

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Materials and Tools:

graph paper
template with geometric shapes
colored index cards
tacky glue
transfer paper
8"x 2" 20-gauge sterling silver sheet
8"x 1" 20-gauge sterling silver sheet
scrap copper
patterned fabric or brass texturing plate
rolling mill
scribe and straight edge
jeweler's files
400- and 1200-grit sandpaper
flat-nose, half-round and needle-nose pliers
torch setup
warm Crock pot of mild sulfuric acid solution
bowl of water
medium and easy solder
solder pick (or paste flux in a syringe)
wooden dapping block
wooden daps
flex shaft and drill bits (or rotary tool)
liver of sulfur
old porcelain cup
small paint brush


1. Choose a letter for your design. Draw the letter on graph paper, using your graphic template to reduce your chosen letter to simple shapes. The letter should measure approximately 3/4 inch square. Be experimental; it's not important that you can recognize the letter; it is just a staring point. Remember, you have to create a base piece and a secondary piece as an appliqué, which will be soldered together.

2. When you have chosen the design you like, cut your shapes out of the colored index cards — one color for the base piece and another color for the appliqué. Now you can play with the positioning of the links on the graph paper and you will also be able to determine how many links you will need to measure 7 inches (the average length for a ladies bracelet) and where to place your tabs for linking.

3. On graph paper, redraw link, remembering to include the tab on one side for the link and a hole on the opposite side (the tab should measure about 1/8" x 3/8") on the base piece. Note: You need to make one tab a little longer — 1/8" x 3/4" — this link will serve as the catch.

4. Duplicate your link pattern. You can make multiples by tracing using carbon paper, copier or your computer scanner. Make as many paper patterns as you have links. Note: You need one set of patterns for the base piece and one set for the appliqué, a total of eight pieces for the base and 8 appliqué:

5. Next, with your torch, anneal your two pieces of silver sheet and scrap copper pieces. Quench, pickle, rinse and dry.

6. For practice, roll your copper pieces with your chosen textured fabric to get an idea of what texture the metal will have. Then roll your silver sheet through the rolling mill with the appropriate texturing material. Use one texture for the base pieces and one for the appliqués. Note: Make sure you roll a large enough piece to accommodate all your pattern pieces.

7. Glue your pattern pieces to the appropriate textured silver making the best use of the silver (just like cutting a dress pattern). Let glue dry thoroughly.

8. Saw carefully along the outside of the line of each pattern. File and sand all edges of all pieces. Drill all holes and open to size. Remove paper pattern by soaking in water.

9. Sweat solder. Prepare to solder appliqués and base pieces together. First flux the appliqué and melt a small amount of medium solder on the backside piece. Repeat this step on all appliqués. Quench, pickle, rinse and dry.

10. Lightly sand the soldered side of appliqué just to remove any high points of solder, clean with soapy water, and rinse. After that step is completed, flux both base piece and appliqué and slowly heat to solder. Quench, pickle, rinse and dry. Repeat on all links.

11. Place link face down in dapping block and shape a slight curve in the link pieces.

12. To bend tabs: Score tab at the edge of the link line on the back of the link using your scribe and straight edge. You can use a triangular file, Krause or flame bur in your flex shaft to cut a groove about two-thirds through the metal along score line. Bend tab towards the back of the link at a 90-degree angle and solder in place using easy solder. Repeat on all links. Quench, pickle, rinse and dry.

13. Take the link with the extra long tab and gently bend it parallel to the back of the link with a slight upsweep at the end. Use your half-round pliers to bend the remaining tabs into a "U" shape. Remember to leave a small gap to attach links together later.

14. Prepare liver of sulfur in well-ventilated area or even outside. Before mixing solution, lay all the links on a white paper towel in the sun. Dissolve a small lump of liver of sulfur in about 1/4 cup of very hot water in a small porcelain cup. Add a drop of plain ammonia to mixture. Use a paintbrush to apply an even coat of mixture on the front of the links.

15. Observe color change; when you achieve the coloration you like, dip link in a bowl of plain water to stop the action.

16. Use 1200-grit sandpaper to gently remove oxidation on the high points of the texture on your links. You can also use the sandpaper to remove unwanted oxidation on the back of the links.

17. Using half-round pliers, carefully attach links to one another, attaching the link with the hook last.

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