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Jewelled Ear wires

November 9, 2015 , In: Metalsmithing, Tutorials
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I love ear wires! Not those boring pre-made mass produced ones, but handmade artisan ones that really enhance or become part of the design, so I thought I would show you how to make some of my favourite!
 
Will o the Wisp earrings
 
You will need:
0.8mm sterling silver wire 
pair of 5mm stones
easy solder paste
 
Tools:
Wire cutters
Medium bail making pliers (or 5mm and 3mm knitting needles!)
Saw
Pair of flat nose pliers
Soldering block
Buntain torch 
Safety pickle
Bicarbonate of soda
Wire brush
Dremel with a burr cup or files
Tumbler or polishing papers
Something round to form ear wires like a pen
 
Cutting the wire
  • Cut two 3inch pieces of 0.8mm wire for each pair of ear wires you are making (in the photo’s I am making 3 pairs as it’s always easier to work in batches) File one end flat and put to one side.
  • Take another length of 0.8mm wire and wrap it tightly around the large side of your bail making pliers forming a coil and then do the same with the small side of the pliers. (These will be cut to form jump rings and you will need two large and two small jump rings per pair of earrings).
  • Using your saw cut the coil into rings (I find it helps to use the wire cutters to make a small grove where I want to cut first or my blade just goes every where, it is also easier if you stick a small amount of tape on your coil before cutting to hold them together and go slowly as these can get really hot when sawing in a hurry).
  • Once you have sawn your jump rings use your flat nose pliers to close he rings neatly together (you just need to gently twist the ends together).
Soldering together Cut eight 1cm lengths of wire per pair of ear wires and file one side of each flat.
  • Arrange all the pieces on the soldering block as shown, making sure that the cut edges of the small and large jump rings are touching and that the filed ends of the wires are the ones that will be soldered to the jump ring. (it is important to make sure all pieces that are going to be soldered are spotlessly clean, so as I assemble this I wipe each piece with polishing paper or sandpaper).
  • Apply small amounts of solder paste at all of the joints (this can be rather fiddly).
  • Following all safety precautions (hair tied back, goggles on, apron, no long sleeves etc) solder the pieces together (go slowly as the wire is rather thin and can melt rather easily). Once soldered pickle for a few minutes to remove any fire scale and then rinse in Bicarbonate of soda and water to neutralise the pickle and brush over with a brass brush.
Shaping the prongs
 
 
  • Once clean and dry (using your stone as a guide) bend the prongs up with your flat nose pliers.
  • Once the prongs are in place cut them to the desired length (mine are between 2-3mm depending on the hight of the stone being set).
  • Check the stone fits and adjust as needed
  • Using the burr cup in a Dremel neaten up the cut wires (If you do not have a Dremel you can buy a handheld burr cup or you can just use a file to neaten up the edges.
Shaping the wire
  • Once you are happy with your prongs use something round to shape your ear wires (I normally use a pen or a wooden spoon)
  • File or burr the ends of your ear wires and either tumble for 30 minutes or hand polish with polishing papers
  • Place your stones in the settings and use your flat nose pliers to gently squeeze the prongs down onto the stones until the stones are secure. This can be a little fiddly but go slowly because some stones (especially faceted stones) are easy to chip or break if you are too heavy handed (been there)!!!
  • Add your choice of embellishments to finish the earrings….
Selection of finished earrings

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Niky Sayers

Niky Sayers started creating jewellery 6 years ago after stumbling across a jewellery making blog while looking for a hobby. She is a stay at home mum with hermit like tendencies, a mild addiction to coffee and chocolate and a love of all things handmade or antique/rusty. While not raising her tribe she like to keep as busy as possible playing with metal sheet, wire and other treasures and trinkets all at her kitchen table in Surrey, England.
  1. Reply

    These are really fantastic Niky! I love special earwires too.

  2. Reply

    Beautiful ear wires – and earrings! I will have to try this~ Thanks so much for sharing!!

    • Reply

      Thanks Patti, I look forward to seeing what you create!

  3. Reply

    This is just fabulous; I am a soldering newbie and my soldered joints break off easily so I am scared to try something like it. Which solder to you use?

    • Reply

      I use easy solder paste, as long as all your joints are clean (very important), you use enough (but not too much) solder and the solder flows then none of the joins should break!

  4. Reply

    Wow! Thank you, these are beautiful and add a great touch!

  5. Reply

    They are amazing Niky and how funny I should mention lessons and here you have done a tutorial!

    Linda x

    • Reply

      lol Thank you Linda, if I get time I will do a tutorial for setting the headpins too!

  6. Reply

    A huge thank you for this tutorial! These are just lovely. It will be a definite challenge, but I'm determined to give it a try.

    • Reply

      Thank you, it's really easy once you get started!

  7. Reply

    Excellent post Niky! So beautiful work! 🙂

  8. Reply

    Awesome post Niky!

  9. Reply

    Thanks Sue, I'm looking for the perfect stones to go with the beautiful beads you sent me, so I can make them into earrings next!

  10. Reply

    These are such great earrings Niky, I love how you incorporated the earwire into the stone settings and shared a tutorial, wonderful!

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