Bracelet Making: Miland Seuss and How to Make a Cuff Bracelet
Miland Seuss was the first jewelry toolmaker and legend I met in person. I remember the day so well and I remember my view of his table at the show we were attending (Merle and I were out and about together in Tucson). There were tools upon tools upon tools in front of me and a wonderfully genuine and happy man there to greet us. Miland was so engaging and so happy to meet anyone who came up to talk with him about tools and jewelry making. It was one more chance for him to share his passion for his tools and quite possibly make your jewelry-making exploration that much better.
What Can I Make for You?
Miland had such a love for all he did. He asked: “What would make it easier for you to make what you create?” I shared a simple reply, “making smaller round loops.” Out he brings this refined pair of round-nose pliers. A new tool he had just come up with for another jewelry designer. I, of course, purchased this tool with great excitement knowing it was going to help me.
From there, being as green as I was as a jewelry-maker, we took another approach and I rather let him explain more about the tools he had already been creating. Each tool was wildly different and beyond what was “standard.” There was a potential for hours of conversation with this man but we kept it to a reasonable amount of time and a promised follow up. I came away from his booth with too much for my brain to retain and a few great tools. One tool in particular would be used for easy bracelet making, which would then justify the purchase–it’s a beauty, no?
We also came away with a lead for a few articles, one of which Nina Graci wrote. For more on Miland and an excerpt from Nina’s article from Lapidary Journal July 2002, read: Metalsmithing: Tool Makers, Legends, and Insight on Hammering from Bill Fretz (another amazing man with some amazing tools!).
The Man and His Tools Live On
Fast forward 15 years and you can imagine my delight when I learned some of Miland’s tools were being manufactured again. I was even happier to see we were offering a collection that includes one of Miland’s tools along with five great projects!
From the April issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Helen Driggs’ shares her thoughts on a wide variety of pliers including one of the pliers being made from Miland’s design. Here’s an excerpt from the issue:
In Helen’s Words
“The Contenti Company now carries several new pliers in their catalog, including the most excellent Beadsmith parallel pliers (360-384) for bending bracelet stock into gentle, consistent curves without marring the metal: that parallel action prevents the pliers from exerting too much force on one side of the jaw–a common frustration with regular pliers. No dents. I adore them!
And if that weren’t enough adoration for one day, I also discovered these 1 3/8” channel bracelet maker pliers like a happy blast from my past. If you’ve been missing those great Miland Seuss tools from days of Tucson past, search no more–EuroTool has begun manufacturing and distributing these and other ever so inventive Miland pliers once again.”
Thanks for bringing these forward Helen! I was so glad to get my hands on one of the new pliers and couldn’t wait to try them out. Here’s a look at what I cooked up and the bracelet making how-to behind it.
Heat Patina Metal Cuff
Thanks to Mary Hettmansperger’s class at Bead Fest Tacoma last year, I picked up this great way to add patina to metal, copper in this case. Thanks for all the great tips, Mary!
- 26- or 24-gauge copper sheet
- gel flux
- rubber stamp
- bowl filled with water for quenching
- heatproof tweezers
- sanding supplies
- rivets of your choice
- riveting tools
I didn’t have gel flux on hand so I put some of the dried up paste flux I did have into a new container.
I added water until the flux was to a thick paste consistency (like icing and not glaze).
Brush the flux onto a rubber stamp then apply the image to a clean piece of metal.
Heat the metal until it glows red, then quench right away into a bowl of water.
For more specifics on this technique, read the post Make Heat-Patina Designs on Copper Using Gel Flux and Rubber Stamps (funny that Tammy Jones also didn’t have gel flux on hand the day she wrote this!).
Cut a strip from the metal, targeting an area on the sheet you want to highlight in your cuff. Sand and smooth the sharp edges. Trim and sand the corners until smooth or rounded.
You can stop here and form the metal using Miland’s pliers or you can embellish the metal further.
Heat patina additional pieces of metal (these were all done using the same piece of metal).
Trim accent pieces from the metal sheets.
Punch one hole in each layer of metal being assembled.
Line up the two pieces then rivet together.
Rivet your design accordingly.
NOTE: Even though the metal is work hardened a bit at this point, I proceeded with the forming. If your design calls for more work and you do work harden the metal beyond being able to form it easily with the pliers, you will need to anneal the metal. If this becomes necessary, you will likely lose some if not all of your patina to this point. Either plan for this at the beginning of the project and don’t heat patina until the end, or choose a different process for assembly that doesn’t cause you to work harden the metal prematurely.
Using the forming pliers, begin to move the metal into shape until you’ve worked across the entire surface. As needed, shape the formed metal to suit your finished dimension. You can use a bracelet mandrel if you’d like. Then wear and enjoy.
This is just a quick example of one design you can create using these pliers. The Channel Bracelet Maker Pliers Cuff Collection offers you the tool and 5 other designs you can add to your list. And you likely already have designs of your own in mind — so what are you waiting for? This collection is available for a limited time so don’t delay.
Miland seemed happiest when working toward making your jewelry-making life easier. He created and re-engineered tools to suit this goal. His designs, which we now have access to again accomplish the ease he was always working on for us. I know he would be happy.
Get this collection and more from Helen in these great resources: