May 15, 2014

{HOW TO} Add a Chain Extender Using Chain by the Inch

Today we are talking about chain! We have had a lot of questions about our finished chains and chain by the inch. Makers want to know which type of chain to use and how to choose the appropriate length. Today we want to help empower you. People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, not to mention everyone also has her own preference when it comes to styles and lengths. We are sharing how to use chain by the inch as a chain extender and as a way to create a custom chain altogether.  

A chain extender is a great way to give someone the option to customize their look on a day-to-day basis. A chain extender can be anywhere from two inches to two feet (as seen below on Shea Curry).   It all depends on if you are adding an extender for functionality or as an elegant back feature -- or both!

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We can't emphasize enough how great it is that a chain extender takes the guess work out of what length is "right." Start with a shorter chain and all lengths become correct with an extender! Below we have photographed five different connections for adding an extension to a chain, starting with the easiest and progressing in complexity. The only hard-and-fast rule when adding a chain extender is to make sure the chain links accommodate the clasp that you are using for your project.    


OPTION 1 : THE JUMP RING
Below is a basic jump ring that is connecting our necklace to the chain extension. You can use a round or oval jump ring. Make sure to pick a gauge that will be strong enough to hold up to the daily wear and tear that a necklace can take; we recommend sticking to gauges that are 18 or thicker.  



OPTION 2 : THE HEAD PIN
Next up, we have a head pin to attach the chains.  We have a free class that shows you how to create this headpin dangle.  This is a fun technique because it allows you to add in beads that work with your project and make the piece look extra special. Here we used a 4mm Swarovski bicone bead that we have in our crystal mixes. Who doesn't love a bit of bling?



OPTION 3 : THE WIRE WRAP
The next technique uses a simple wire wrap as the connection. A variation of this is using a basic loop, which does not wrap the wire ends around itself. We prefer a wire wrap for a closure because it is stronger and more secure than a basic loop. Our free Wire Jewelry Fundamentals class will walk you through this technique.



OPTION 4 : THE WIRE WRAP (WITHOUT BEAD)
The next picture demonstrates the same technique as above, only without a bead. Some necklaces are very simple and do not call for a bead. For those who prefer a more streamlined and simple look, you can wire wrap a connection without anything in the middle.  Here we used 24g wire.



OPTION 5 : THE SOLDERED JUMP RING
The last example we have is the same as the first, only this jump ring has been soldered closed.  If you love the look of a jump ring and want it secured shut indefinitely, then check out our free class, Soldering Jump Rings. For those who are truly inspired, watch our free class, Making Your Own Jump Rings, which will open up a whole new world for you!


We hope this post helps demystify the concept of chain by the inch and chain extenders. Feel free to leave us a comment with any ideas you have or which technique is your favorite way to add on chain!  


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