Gah. All right, the second bracelet customization is done — though I ended up using Wire Guards and not opening the split rings (think: tiny key rings) at all, because they’re so weak that they stay deformed once open.
I might as well have used a soldered ring — it would cause less damage to the beads (which are acrylic). I went out today to catch a couple of soldered jump rings — usually less than 50¢ each — then realized that the local bead store has closed. On a quick search it seems that it isn’t officially all the way dead yet (there are still classes planned), but driving by there today, there was no sign to note it was there, and the entrance had a grille pulled across it. So yeah, I don’t know. The owner was kind of notorious for stepping out at random times, though.
The other local bead store — other than a tiny one on College Ave. which I haven’t been to for years, plus the one I just remembered which opened up next to my regular bead store (there is a dog in there, I don’t like to go) — is officially now online-only, meaning that the closest location I regularly patronized is at least 30 minutes away. This is unless I want to cross a bridge, which is about 20% faster, plus toll. What I’m left with are craft and fabric stores, which are both more expensive and lower quality for jewelry supply.
And then, there is the real deal in Oakland, though that store focuses more on actual jewelry supply, as in silversmithing and goldsmithing — fine and art jewelry stuff — much more than beadwork (which is considered more of a craft, and tends to be looked down on by some smiths; much as metal clay work doesn’t hold the same status as smithing [to purists]).
Or, there is always online — but it doesn’t make sense to buy two soldered 18g 6mm jump rings, online.
I may have a use yet for that micro butane torch I got as a gift…though I would have had to use real sterling silver (brazing, or “hard soldering,” craft or plated wire is an awful idea, at best — it releases fumes which are noxious, and which I should assume are toxic). Plus, heating metal requires pickle (and good ventilation, and cadmium-free solder), and pickle probably requires polishing, as things tend to be frosted when they come out of it. Polishing is apparently fácil [easy] with a tumbler and polishing media, especially when you want things to become hardened; not so much with a Dremel, and I’m not into this hardcore enough yet to get a Foredom (a pendant motor with a rotary handpiece). Good tumblers run around $200; then polishing media and some kind of surfactant are needed (I’ve heard Dawn works well for the latter).
There are probably additional cautions around using a Foredom that I don’t remember, other than never polishing a chain (it can take off your fingers), never wearing jewelry (it can get caught), tying long hair back (it can also get caught and torn out), protecting eyes (things fly off when you’re attacking something solid with a rotary abrasive handpiece), and, as I know now but which was never mentioned: wear a particle mask when polishing anything, unless you like being sprayed with grit which can get into your lungs and cause silicosis (rouge, haha). I’m pretty sure that when I made my chain in Metals class, I used a Sunshine Cloth to polish it. (Sunshine Cloth = a felt cloth impregnated with polishing compound. Much lower-risk, albeit surprisingly disturbing, when you see what comes off.)
I did resort to going to a craft store, which didn’t have quality findings. The split rings I got were weak (as mentioned) — they could have been both springier (a defect in how they were [cheaply] made; metal gets springier as it’s beaten) and easier to open (they seemed stuck shut) — and I was afraid that the soldered jump rings would easily deform, as they were 20g at the most, more likely 22g. The rings I took off were 18g — much heavier. (The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. My earrings are presently 14g.) I had found the 18g .999 silver-plated jump rings at a fabric store which is a bit farther and much better-stocked, but didn’t realize the design perils that having an easily accessible opening would introduce to the overall stability of the piece.
If and when that ring would pop off, the entire bracelet would go. This was my reasoning for using the split rings plus the Wire Guards — it’s much more difficult for a Wire Guard to get into the slit in a split ring, then make its way all the way around, to undo the bracelet. It did, though, happen when I tried to thread the split ring on instead of restringing the whole thing. (Once the ring was bent open, it didn’t shut again, which kind of invalidated the reason for using it.)
But yeah, it’s done. Not to the best degree it can be, but the person I’m customizing this for wants to compensate me for materials; plus, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on this. I’ve strung this for the third time, though at maximum, the Soft Flex (stainless steel cable, 49 strands) I used — the most expensive bit — only cost about $3 total for 3 feet (and this is because I accidentally bought the 49-strand cable instead of the 21-strand). Wire guards and jump rings are relatively trivial in cost; so are crimp beads (though I think I was overcharged for the ones I got; it just wasn’t a big enough deal to go back and check). The clasp was recycled from my other project for this patron, so really it isn’t too bad.
I’d estimate $4.50 in parts, meaning that offhand I’d charge $9 for the reconstruction, not including labor (which couldn’t have been more than two hours). I did intend it to be a gift, though, anyway, and $25 is a stupid-high price to charge for a restrung costume jewelry piece. If I were making this and it were my original design, though, with materials that were worth it, that would be something different — especially as I would be able to work all this figuring-stuff-out time into labor and fraction it out over multiple pieces.
God, I sound like I should be a craft jeweler. The reason I’m not into it already is that it’s a relatively impoverished life, at least in the U.S. — and, at least, if you’re not married to someone who’s supporting you, or have kids supporting you. But I did, apparently, jump right back to this after getting out of Art classes. That probably says something…