This bangle is one of the most favourite pieces of jewellery I’ve ever made and after two days solid work, it’s been one of the most time consuming projects too. I feel it was worth the effort. I was commissioned to make a replica of a Viking bangle out of sterling silver. After close inspection of the original I had my plan of action. I don’t have the sort of lathes or machinery that would have made it possible to do this job in a few hours and even if I did, that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to make it all by hand, and sometimes brute force, to have a connection of how the bangle would have made by the Viking craftsmen and how much energy and time went in to it.
I began with just over a meter of 3mm thick silver rod and formed a circle in the centre to make one end of the bangle. I secured the loop in a vice, wrapped in leather to protect it, and began to twist the rods around each other. The work was very heavy going due to the gauge of the silver and took all my effort and was painful on my already calloused hands. To twist silver this thick also required a great deal of annealing and pickling (gently heating the silver with a blow touch then leaving it in acid to clean) to keep it soft.
Once I had the required length of twisted silver, I could start to form it around my bangle mandrel. Again this is very heavy duty work to do by hand and required annealing in between.
At this point, with the end loop soldered in place, it begins to look like jewellery and a little polish shows me any areas that need further attention. Attractive as it is at this stage, this bangle has a secondary twisted coil around it. Using again over 1 meter of 1mm silver wire, I twisted it in the vice as before which was a delight to do and spun very quickly in comparison to the 3mm rods the day before. This was soldered in place, coiled around the bangle and the ends neatly soldered together to make a seamless join. The end bangle was substantial and heavy
Although the techniques used were neither complex nor difficult, it took a great deal of work hours to complete without machinery and gave me a new respect for the metalsmiths making this sort of jewellery and much more complex work without a blow touch or some of the tools at my disposal. Do I want to do any work like this again? Yes definitely and hope to have a whole collection together by the summer.