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Here's How To Make Your Own Bracelet

There's fire involved.

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Have you ever looked down at your bracelet and wondered what went into creating it?

Well I have, and I decided to figure out what the process of making your own jewelry entails. And I'm not talking about friendship bracelets made of yarn (though I was particularly good at those during my summer camp days).

I am particularly clumsy and the least crafty person I know — my extent of anything artsy is nailing down bubble letters and stick figures — so this was going to be a challenge.

Nicole and Amber Sutton are twins, jewelry designers, and metalsmiths with their line, Workhorse Jewelry.

Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed
Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed

They handmake all of their jewelry in their studio in Downtown LA — everything from bracelets to necklaces to earrings and more. So who better to help guide me through the process of making a cuff?

The Suttons were thankfully very patient with me as I discovered exactly what I had gotten myself into.

Step 1: Cut wire to desired length.

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The goal was to cut a length that could fit around a human being's wrist.

Step 2: File the clipped edge.

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You're going to want to get that nice and even.

Step 3: Bend wire around mandrel (the pole-looking thing).

This is to get the proper shape for the cuff in an even way. I got to beat the wire with a wooden mallet and I'm not gonna lie, I felt powerful AF.
Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed

This is to get the proper shape for the cuff in an even way. I got to beat the wire with a wooden mallet and I'm not gonna lie, I felt powerful AF.

Step 4: Solder.

Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed

Yep, that's a flame. That's all to attach the edge of the wire to a beautiful shield pendant, and in order to do that you need heat and solder to connect the two pieces together.

Not gonna lie, this part can be difficult. You're pretty much trying to balance a small beach ball on a needle if that makes sense.

Step 5: Clean using the pickle.

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I enjoyed this step since "Drop it into the pickle" is one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life (and yes, I do have the humor of a 12-year-old who watches The Big Bang Theory). After dropping it in the pickle with tongs (seriously, there are a bunch of chemicals in there), I dropped my half-made cuff into some water to rinse and brushed away any residue with soap and a brush.

Step 6: Shape the other side of the cuff.

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Back to the mandrel! BTW doesn't mandrel sound like the name of a Harry Potter character?

Step 7: File again.

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Step 8: Repeat steps 4 and 5 — Solder and clean!

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Tbh the hardest part for me was figuring out how to clamp the bracelet down in order to solder.

Step 9: Sand that baby down.

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I used a tool called the flex-shaft, which polished down the edges of the cuff to a slant so that there were no pokey bits about. The silicone polishing wheel then made a nice smooth surface to make my bracelet as comfy as can be. Think about it, when you sand down a table do you want splinters sticking up? No. And when you file down a bracelet you don't want a sharp edge poking into your wrist either.

Step 10: Oxidize and clean.

The reoccurring theme here seems to be dipping stuff and scrubbing it off so why stop now? I dipped the cuff into a silver blackening solution and then made sure to place it in some water before — you guessed it — cleaning it off. This time I used steel wool.

The right side of the bracelet shows exactly what the oxidization step does to the cuff:

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Step 11: Polish.

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Last but not least I polished that bad boy real good for that extra finishing touch, making everything smooth and bright. And guess what I did after that? That's right — clean it!

TA-DA!

Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed
Jessica Chou for BuzzFeed

Not too shabby, right?

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