At some point in April 2010 I began flirting with the idea of making jewellery. As a beginner I choose beads and tiger tail as my main supplies. I can’t tell you how many times I took apart a necklace or bracelet only to remake it longer or shorter, hopefully a little better each time.
In July of 2010 I started taking beginner classes at a pub called The Pearl Girl in Tipton. It was a fun way to socialize while honing skills I had accumulated on my own. During the class we did several wire sessions, making tiaras and knitting. Several of the women in our class took to wire like fish to water. They had a knack with it. My mother in law knit some gorgeous things, really impressive. But for some reason I couldn’t get enthusiastic about working with the thin wire. My one attempt to crochet pearls on pink wire remains unfinished. With so many other techniques to try, I happily resigned that wire work could be enjoyed by others, not by me.
Until recently, that is to say. For some reason I suddenly got the urge last month to learn how to make wire rings. As usual, I used my beady eye to scour the web for ideas, tips on techniques and to source some 18 gage silver plated copper wire. Then spent a month making and remaking rings.
After much folly with the 18 gage wire, which turned out to be too thick for a novice such as myself, I found smaller wire in three graduated sizes. The slightly smaller gages were just what I needed to have a good play. Funny how size really does matter.
I’ll talk more about my wire wrap ring adventures later. This blog is about what came after the rings. Creating wire inspired earrings.
My wire earring experiment
This week I was inspired to see if I could fashion my own wire hoop earrings. And since I wasn’t confident that my skills and equipment could give me a perfectly round shape I opted for a pear or teardrop shape instead. Below is a step by step visual of my efforts.
* I decided to use what is labeled as 6mt non tarnish silver plated copper wire sourced from Scientific Wire Company. It’s pliable but not too thick and should hold it’s shape pretty well. Plus it’s easy to work with. Which is a bonus when you’re learning a craft.
* My first step was to make a small circle at the top of the teardrop. This will be used to hang a focal bead to dangle elegantly at the centre of the earring and dance about with every movement.
* I used the thickest part of my ring mandrel to shape the teardrop. Bending the wire around the mandrel carefully so as not to put any kinks into the loop.
* Once this was done I bent the remaining wire, at the end of loop, up. Doing this formed the top of the earring.
* The wire remaining from the small circle was then wrapped around the top wire. This formed the completed teardrop shape.
* The trickiest past thus far was ensuring that the set of loops were roughly the same size.
* Now came the fun bit, selecting some gorgeous stones to wrap around the outer part of the wire base. I choose to use 4mm beveled cut black onyx beads. They have a lovely shimmer when the light hits them which I hope will add movement and sparkle.
* I used a much thinner wire to wrap the onyx beads onto the wire base. Unfortunately I don’t know the size.
* It was very tricky and fiddly to affix the wire securely to the top of the earrings, but some patience and willingness to try a different position or technique helped me get a good result.
* I think I need to be a bit more elegant with my wire work, as the wraps look too bulky for my taste. But it looks okay for a beginner I suppose.
* Once the onyx beads were on each base I made a focal design for each earring using two different shaped beveled onyx beads. These were looped onto the small circle at the top of the teardrop.
* The last step was to create a loop at the top of each earring that will be used to attached to the earring finding. NOTE: I haven’t made my own findings yet. I need to investigate the best type of silver to use and ensure I’ve got the right tools. It’s at the top of my Need To Learn list.
Overall I’m pretty darn happy with the teardrop design I created. It’s easy to reproduce and has an easy elegance about it. Since the experiment was so successful I created several smaller versions that turned out equally as nice.
This type of wire work is so enjoyable with quick results and is a craft I intend to continue. Perhaps a year from now I’ll have a more delicate hand when it comes to the finishing techniques. Next up, copper wire. After that, once I’m a bit more confident, I’ll brave using all silver wire. Wish me luck!
Have you worked with silver and/or copper wire? Do you have any advise on how to avoid marring the wire when using your tools? I would greatly appreciate hearing your feedback and experience working with wire. I’ve got a lot to learn and am eager to accelerate my wire work learning curve.
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