Adaptive Techniques: Chain Gang

Adaptive Techniques:  Chain Gang
Nan Roche, Autumn Loop in Loop Necklace, c. 1999

Chains have been an integral part of metal work from ancient times.   Various methods of linking metal rounds create different patterns and rhythms.   With the advent of extruded polymer in the mid 1990’s, a process made far easier due to Carl Hornberger’s suggestions on adapting  the traditional caulk gun, polymer artists such as Nan Roche were able to explore the concept of making polymer chains. 

Nan Roche, Double Loop in Loop Necklace, c. 1999
Nan Roche, Double Loop in Loop Necklace, c. 1999

Beginning with a simple loop in loop chain and then evolving to a double loop in loop Nan reworked the techniques to suit polymer.   Books such Jewelry Concepts and Technology and  Classical Loop-In-Loop Chains which were in Nan’s library, offered detailed instruction on how to construct a chain.   But, as Nan recounts her preparations to demonstrate at the Arrowmont conference in 1997,

“I surveyed all the fiber techniques that I was aware of:  weaving, braiding, knotting, folding, stitching, leather braiding, and chaining which more commonly belonged to metalworking techniques.  I cannot remember which book generated the idea to do chaining with extruded clay. ……. I had been interested in essential structures my whole career and the preparation for the conference really focused my attention on the techniques that involved “fibers”. I did many samples for the presentation at the conference and I think a simple loop-in-loop chain was one of the samples. It was shortly after the Arrowmont conference that I began to more extensively work out how to use extruded clay for the chaining techniques, pushing the possibilities as far as I could.”

Nan Roche, Chain Mail Necklace, c.1999
Nan Roche, Chain Mail Necklace, c.1999

In addition to the variations of loop in loop chains, Nan also created a polymer version of chain mail.

More later on adapted fiber techniques with extruded polymer.

Oppi Untracht, Jewelry Concepts and Technology (1982) and Jean Reist Stark & Josephine Reist Smith, Classical Loop-In-Loop Chains (1997)

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.