Nov 202009

As I finished up a batch of my Holly Jolly earrings this morning, I thought “geez, if people really knew what goes into these things…” and had a brainflash. What if I took a photo of all the materials and tools used to make them? I started gathering…..

Wow…for a cute and seemingly simple little pair of earrings, it’s amazing what it takes to make them! After I took the photo, I realized that I forgot a couple of things – a round nosed pliers, a punch pliers, 22g wire, and I didn’t include my tumbler.

Starting with the copper sheet I punch out the discs, then stamp them using letter stamps.  After stamping, holes are punched for the ear wire and dangle, then I carefully file the edges to remove any messy little bits.   A Sharpie marker is used on the stamping to accent it, then I use one of the little white polishing squares to clean off the excess Sharpie.

The discs are then domed, using the dapping tools.  I make all of my own head pins and ear wires, so at some point, I use my butane torch and 22g wire to make the headpins that hang the crystals.  After the dangles are complete, I use 20g wire to make the ear wires, hammering them just lightly.

Last step is to toss the earrings into the tumbler for a last polish and remove any excess burrs.

I’d love to hear what goes into YOUR handmade products…and the next time someone stops to look at your work, or asks about it, be sure to tell them about all the details that go into making handmade!

May 272009

I had so much fun designing these new “french post” earrings, I made about 8 pairs of them the other day!  A clean and classic design, and comfortable to wear make them a winner in my book!

Instructions are very easy – simply take two headpins with a ball end and thread a wafer-style bead on them.  On the back of the bead, bend the wire at a 90° angle, and then use a round nosed pliers to form the “post”!  Hammer just slightly at the front, file the end to eliminate any burrs, and you’re done!

I found with my handmade headpins that Sterling Silver (22g half hard) worked better than Fine Silver – while the Fine Silver pins will work, they’re a little less stable than the Sterling ones.

Have fun with this design – I can see loads of possibilities!

May 252009

Thanks to my friend Vicki Cook, I’ve discovered fold forming…taking a sheet of metal and making lovely designs by annealing, folding, unfolding, tapping a bit with the hammer…and then starting all over again in another spot.

The results are really cool.  Of course, every piece is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.  So far, I’ve made a couple of pendants, a pin, and two pairs of earrings.

If you are comfortable with a torch, it’s easy to get started.  Basic instructions are:

  1. Cut a small piece of 30g copper sheet.  About 1 1/2 to 2″ square is a good starting point.
  2. Anneal the copper sheet using a torch.  Wave the hottest part of the flame over the sheet slowly and evenly, watching for the color to change.  I anneal for about 30 seconds.
  3. Let the sheet cool slightly, then pick up with a pliers and quench in cool water.
  4. Here’s where the folding comes in…I use a small vise, placing the sheet in the jaws of the vise and folding to a 90° angle.  Remove the sheet from the vise, and continue to fold it over until both sides are folded against each other.
  5. Using a rawhide or rubber mallet, gently tap the crease until it is tight. (Think about when you crease paper with a fingernail so that you can tear it straight…same concept!)
  6. Open the fold from the back.  You may find it easier to use a thin piece of metal (Vicki suggests using an oyster knife, which I think is brilliant!) to unfold the piece.  I also use a pair of flat nosed nylon jaw pliers to pull the fold apart.
  7. Gently tap the crease and unfolded sheet on either side of the sheet.  You’ll want the fold to continue to be a bit convex, but the sides should flatten out.
  8. Repeat from Step 2, creating a fold in another spot.  Experiment with crossing the folds over each other – you’ll be amazed at the results!

Fold forming is a lot of fun, and after you’ve created a sheet, the possibilities are endless.  Sheets can be punched out with a disc to make circles, cut with a saw, or just drilled and hung from ear wires!

Apr 202009

I posted these cute earrings in a couple of forums and was asked to create a tutorial for them. They are fairly quick to make, and have loads of possibilities! Add a simple loop at the bottom and drop another dangle below the main stone.The first version I made using 20g gold-filled round wire and citrine stones. The wire hardened up after tumbling enough that I felt it was stable. In this version, I’ve used 22g half hard sterling wire, which is what I usually use for earring findings.

While you will want to be careful not to “chew” up your wire with the pliers, don’t worry about bending the tail up a little.

Knot Your Average Post Earrings

Level – Experienced Beginner – should have some experience with wire work

6″ 22g HH round sterling silver wire
6mm beads (2)

Round nosed or stepped pliers
Flush cutter
Chain nose pliers
Nylon jaw pliers
Cup Burr

1. Cut wire in half so you have two lengths 3″ each. This will be longer than you will need for your posts, but I find it’s much easier to work with longer lengths for this project. Instructions below are for one earring; therefore, you’ll just be using one length of wire and one bead.

2. Make a tiny hook on one end of the wire using round nosed or step pliers. Close hook using chain nose pliers to make a head pin.

3. Thread bead on wire, allowing it to fall to the bottom.

4. Make a small loop at the top of the bead, using the round nosed pliers. I use my fingers as much as possible to pull the wire at this point, which decreases the stress on the wire and keeps it as straight as possible. The loop needs to be just high enough above the bead to allow one wrap around the “neck” of the loop.

5. Wrap the tail of the loop ONLY 3/4 of the way around the neck.

6. Using the tip of your round nose pliers or the smallest section of the stepped pliers, make a small U shape in the tail, very close to the neck of the loop. This will make it easier to complete the final pull through the loop.

7. Bend the tail so that you can guide it back through the loop.

8. Carefully pull the tail through the loop, making a knot at the base. This will get a little fiddly, you can use your chain nose pliers to pull it through or to hold the loop at the top while you pull the tail through.

9. When the tail is nearly through, I use my chain nose pliers to help push the U (created in Step 6) all the way through the loop.

10. Hold the top of the loop with your chain nosed pliers. At the same time, straighten the wire tail using a nylon jawed pliers until you have most of the bends out, and it’s at a 90 degree angle from the loop.

11. Mark the tail at 3/4″ from the back of the loop using a Sharpie.

12. Trim the tail at the Sharpie mark.

13. Use a Cup Burr to file the end smooth.

14. Repeat for second earring.

At this point, I would also suggest tumbling the earring at least a short time to ensure the ends are perfectly smooth, to harden the post and to give it a nice shine. Add a plastic backer to hold the earring in place.

Apr 202009

Well, I’ve missed a few weeks, but wanted to share a couple of things I’ve worked on this week. First up, some citrine post earrings made with gold filled wire. I’m pretty happy with this design, which uses just one piece of wire for the entire piece, and is comfortable to wear. I’ll post a tutorial on how to make the “Knot Your Average Posts” earrings tomorrow.

Next up, a copper ring that was commissioned. This uses 18g wire, I start with about 9″ and tie a knot in the center and finish off the ends. Off to its new owner tomorrow.

Finally, a simple but very special bracelet using Stretch Magic and assorted beads. Years ago, I got a necklace from my grandmother that had these pretty blue beads in it. I tore it apart, and made bracelets for my mom, sister, daughter and niece…but never made up my own version of the Grammie Bracelet. I did mine up last week and will wear it to Bree’s wedding on Saturday. 🙂

Mar 262009

It’s that time again, and the OT group is coming up with some beautiful Celedon (pale green) projects for you to make!

My contribution this month is a delightful pair of embellished ear wires – simple to make, and super cute to wear! I’ve used spring colors to symbolize all the flowers that are starting to poke up through the dirt, and soon will be blooming and bringing color to the drab landscape!

Easy Embellished Ear Wires
I found that a Czech glass bead, in the shape of a flower or bead cap, makes a perfect embellishment for a simple pair of French-style ear wires. Here’s how you can achieve the same look with your own wire and beads!Materials:

22g 1/2 hard sterling silver wire
Czech glass flower bead (2)
Decorative bead (I used a cat’s eye bead in a heart shape, pink color) (2)
4mm Swarovski crystal (2)
Sterling silver head pins (2)

1. Working from the spool of wire, thread a Czech glass flower bead on the wire, cupped end last.
2. Make a small loop on the end of the wire…you’ll use this for your dangle.
3. Let the flower bead fall to the top of the loop, and made a bend in the wire at the top of the bead to hold it in place.
4. Using a Sharpie marker or other round object (pen, knitting needle, mandrel), form the shape for the ear wire just above the bend.
5. Clip the end of the wire and file.
6. Create a dangle, threading the crystal and decorative bead on the head pin.
7. Create a wrapped loop at the top of the dangle.
8. Attach the dangle to the loop at the base of the ear wire.
9. Repeat for second earring!

In retrospect, I would bump up step #8 before #3 – it was a little hard to open the loop because of how it fit “into” the flower bead.

Feb 182009

We had a blast tonight at Iowa Western Community College!

I had six students, including my awesome hairdresser Tammy, her daughter Jess, and her mom Dianne. Everyone got to create a unique bracelet and earring set, and it was totally a fun “girl’s night out” activity.

As a bonus, I showed the class how to make their own ear wires…they finished their projects early, a first, so in the extra time, we chatted and I gave them the “extra lesson”.

I’m really excited about next week’s class, which is a beginning chainmaille class. So far, there are 8 students signed up, and I’m limiting the class size to 10. I think it will be easier to teach, but I want to make sure I have enough supplies on hand for each student to complete a bracelet.

Are you interested in teaching? Read about some ideas to set up a class (and questions to ask yourself to find out if you should really be teaching!).

If you’re interested in the projects we completed tonite, check out the Bracelets 101 and Simple Dangle Earrings tutorials on Beading Help Web.

Feb 022009

Another busy week! For one thing, I made that tiara last Sunday…and added a bracelet and four pairs of earrings to my inventory.

The bracelet is Blue Peruvian Opal, with a design inspired by a project in Sharilyn Miller’s Bead on a Wire.

One of the things I have never been able to get good at are hoop earrings. With some help from my pal Jeri, I finally have some hoops I’m pleased with!

Finally, a pair of Egyptian Coils earrings.
On to another week of jewelry fun!

Jan 242009

Busy week…I accomplished a LOT!

First up, earrings to accompany already created necklaces.

Citrine and Sterling


“Ruby Jade” Hearts

Labradorite and Sterling complements my Lab Works necklace.

Copper Swirls.

And finally, a chunk of amethyst crystals that just begged to be wrapped. Believe it or not, this is so snug, the stone is not going anywhere despite the open appearance. I really think it showcases the crystals nicely.

All of these pieces are being created for the Art & Soup show next month…I’m very excited about this show and hope it is successful!