Introduction to Loop-in-Loop Chains

One of my favorite chain-making techniques is called Loop-in-Loop, dating back to approximately 3000 B.C. Due to the high quality of these chains found in royal graves at Ur, it’s thought that perhaps this chain type dates back even further. This method of creating chains was used until the end of the Middle Ages.

Gold Strap Necklace, Greek, ca. 330–300 B.C.
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession #06.1217.13)

The earliest known examples of this technique are in the form of the single loop-in-loop chain, shown second from the left in the photo at the top of the page. The double loop-in-loop pattern (4th from the left) was prominent during the Roman period. By the third century B.C., multi-row necklaces were woven, such as the photo to the left.

The method for creating these chains is relatively straightforward. Wire is wound into a coil, and that coil is then cut into individual rings. The rings are carefully closed and placed on a charcoal block or other soldering surface. With heat alone, the material is fused into a closed circle. Traditionally made in 22K gold, fine silver (99.9% silver) is also used. Both of these materials are chosen since, because of their purity, they will fuse closed without any need for additional solder.

Once the rings are fused, they are then formed into a shape similar to a dumbbell. These rings will then be individually woven into the chain. The size of the rings and the pattern into which they are woven determines the style of chain which will result. Once the 
chain is finished, it is annealed, which means it is heated with a torch until it just glows red (but not too red so that it melts!), a process which softens the metal and makes it more malleable. After annealing, it is either tamped with a mallet or pulled through a drawplate to create more uniformity.

Further details on the different types of chains will follow in future blog posts.

No comments

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving a comment!