Filigree basically refers to any piece made up of curled wires. There are a few
different styles of filigree in my different pieces. Russian Filigree is the most common. It
it made up of a heavier smooth "frame wire", and thinner "filler wires" of a flattened
twisted wire. The frame wire in my pieces is either sterling silver or 18K yellow gold, and the
filler wire is always fine silver. Being fine silver, the filler wires are a bit delicate,
so they are usually pretty densely filled into relatively small frame cells, and are protected
as they sit down lower than the surrounding frame wire. Some other filigree pieces are more open
in design and though some of the wire is smooth & some is twisted & flattened, it is all either
sterling silver or 14K yellow gold. Even the thinner wires used in these pieces are fairly
sturdy on their own, so any "frame" vs. "filler" is usually simply an aesthetic choice. Thirdly,
some pieces are very open in their design, often just using heavier wire, but because the wires
are formed into curls the piece is still considered filigree.
The images above show two examples of each of the three mentioned, in gold and silver.
Fine Silver vs. Sterling Silver
Often times I mention using "fine silver" or "sterling silver" in a piece. For instance,
for the loop-in-loop chains I start with a spool of fine silver wire. I don't mean it's thin wire,
I mean the wire is made of fine silver. Basically, that just refers to the silver content in the metal.
Same as with gold where 24k is essentially pure gold and 14k has other materials to add strength to an otherwise
very soft metal. Fine silver is essentially pure silver, or 99.9% pure silver. Sterling silver is
92.5% silver, with the rest usually being copper. As with gold, this makes what would be a pretty soft
metal much stronger. You can make a fork and knife from sterling, but it wouldn't be very good out of
fine silver. Fine silver doesn't tarnish as quickly, either, without all that copper.
Because it's softer and fuses well (and also because of the tarnishing aspect), it's great for chains.
Pinched Loop Chain
See "Roman Chain" for an overview of the general "Loop in Loop" type of chain,
and the basic creation of the links. For this weave the bow-tie links are put onto sharp madrels and held
while pinched from a couple different directions, making their distinctive shape, before weaving them into
Roman Chains are just one of a variety of "Loop in Loop" chains that I make.
Each variety of these chains has links that are inserted into previous links, and they all
start as rings, thus the "loop in loop" name. I start with a spool of fine silver wire, which I wind on a
mandrel and then cut into rings. The rings are then fused closed. I have to make more than
I need to allow for unsuccessful fusing. Once they are all fused they can be shaped and woven
as needed to make the pattern desired. The relatively basic "Roman Chain" simply has a sort of
bow-tie shaped link bent and inserted into either the previous or second previous link, making either
a looser or tighter weave. The tighter version is one I am particularly fond of and often make,
and an average necklace-length chain might have about 200 links in it.