The story of the Bangle
As I am having a Bangle sale this week I thought I would write my first blog on the making of a bangle. Sometimes when you see a super shiny piece of jewellery and something as simple and classic as a silver bangle you may not know how they are made. When I made my latest batch of bangles I documented the process so I could share it with you.
To start with you buy your bullion (silver in this case) in which ever gauge and shape you would like. For my bangles I use 2mm,2.5mm and 3mm round wire and a rectangular wire. Once you have the wire you need it is then cut into the correct lengths ready for soldering.
The image above shows my wire cut into lengths ready to be soldered.
The next process is to file the ends of the wire to create a clean and good fit. It must be so tight that you cannot see air between the two ends of the wire once they are put together to make a loop. The image below shows some of the bangles bent ready for soldering.
Once the bangles have been soldered they are shaped, ready to clean up the solder joint. Below, the image shows me using a rawhide mallet to tap the bangle around a round bangle mandrel to roughly shape it ready for the cleaning up process.
The next step is to remove any additional solder (which there should only be minimal mounts of) and to do any more removal of scratches or imperfections. first i go over the solder seam with a file, then different grades of emery paper to remove the file scratches. I intentionally leave some small file marks on my work, I feel it adds personality to the piece and that there is more of a connection with the fact this has been hand made.
The next step is to texture the bangles. Some are left plain (no finish) and others are hammered for the dimpled finish. the plain ones go through a final shaping process where the bangle is hammered with a rawhide mallet to get the shaping right. The bangles need to be flattened , this is done by hammering the bangle flat on a steel stake with the rawhide mallet. The first image below is the bangles before they are hammered flat, you can see how wonkey they are and how much reshaping they need !
Below hammering the bangle flat on a large flat steel stake with a raw hide mallet.
At the end once they are all done they sit flush together …. I get a great sense of achievement from this small step and it never fails to make me smile, I inevitably end up putting them all on my wrist to admire the uniformity of the matching bangles 🙂
The bangles to be textured are placed back on the bangle mandrel hit repetitively with my hammer. I use an old chasing hammer which has a nice weight to it and makes a great round indentation in the metal.
Once this has been done, the bangles are polished either in a barrel polisher or on the polishing motor, the latter being the messiest process of them all, as you can see in the picture below hahaha
The picture below shows polished bangles (on the left) and unpolished on the right
And then once they are finally finished and polished i put them on my wrist, jingle them about and smile again ! There is nothing like a wrist full of bangles. And now you guys know when you are wearing them and jangling about how they have been made and all the hard work that has gone into them.