I am using sterling silver filled wire for this tutorial but you can use any type you prefer such as copper or brass. Practice with some inexpensive type wire before trying any of the more expensive materials such as sterling silver or gold filled. I prefer dead soft as opposed to full or half hard. The dead soft is easy to work with and produces excellent results.
First, assemble your tools and supplies. You will need:
- Round nose and nylon flat jaw pliers.
- Wire cutters.
- File - I bought mine at Lowe's home improvement store.
- Steel wool.
- Wire of your choice.
- Round cylinder of some sort. My cylinder is a dapping punch - I have a variety of sizes so I can choose different sizes depending on the size of the earring wires I want to make. You can use most anything you have around the house such as writing pen or pencil.
You will also need:
- Chasing hammer. If you don't have a chasing hammer, any flat headed hammer should work.
- Rubber mallet.
- Steel bench block.
1. Cut your wire to desired length. For this tutorial I will use two inch size wire lengths. Use your ruler to measure your first piece of wire.
For your next piece of wire, simply use the first piece of wire as your "ruler." I usually go ahead and cut several pieces of wire and make multiple sets of earrings at a time.
2. Next, you need to flush cut your wire ends. Your wire cutters look different from each side. One side is for "flush"cutting and the other for "angle"cutting. You will want to cut your wire with the flush cut side. Make sure to wear protective eyewear when cutting your wire - those pieces of wire are known to fly in odd directions when you cut them.
Here is a side by side comparison of an angle cut and flush cut wire. The top wire is angle cut, and the bottom one is flush cut. You always want flush cut ends so that there are no sharp points that might hurt the ear when inserting.
3. Now you want to use your file to sand down the end and make it very smooth. I usually hold both pieces of wire together (or multiple pieces if you are making several earrings) and sand the ends in one direction only. If you go back and forth, you actually make the ends more rough instead of less rough.
4. Next, use your steel wool and push the wire ends up and down through it to further smooth your wire ends. This is optional but I like to really smooth the ends for added comfort. In this photo I am using four pieces of wire since I was making multiple sets of earrings.
5. Now it's time to form your ear wires. Do both pieces of wire together so that you will have uniformity in the shape of your ear wires. Take your cylinder in your left (or non-dominant) hand. Using your right (or dominant) hand, form the wire around the cylinder as follows: (I like to place the wire so that one end of the wire is slightly longer - but some people prefer to make them equal.)
Your earring wires will now look as follows:
6. Now you need to make your loop. This could take some practice depending on how experienced you are in working with wire. If you are just beginning, this is a good reason to start with an inexpensive type of wire.
|Use your round nose pliers to grasp the shorter end.|
|Bend the wire back toward your pliers at a 90 degree angle.|
|Grasp the tip of the bent portion of wire with your round nose pliers.|
|Curl the tip back with a twisting motion toward the top of your earring wire.|
7. Make a "tail" for the other end of your wire using your nylon flat nose pliers. Grasp the tip of the longer end of your ear wire and gently push it upward.
Here is what your earring wire now looks like. Almost finished!
8. Finally you will want to hammer your earring wire to harden it. Place your steel bench block on top of your sandbag. Remember to use a firm surface underneath. The chasing hammer will be used to flatten the curve of your ear wire. The rubber mallet hardens without flattening. Some people choose not to flatten and will only use the rubber mallet. It's up to you.
Use the flat end of your chasing hammer to flatten the curve of your ear wire. You don't have to hit hard. Usually 4 to 5 gentle strokes is sufficient.
Use your rubber mallet to hammer and harden the entire ear wire.
Here is what a flattened and an unflattened earwire looks like:
And here is your finished pair of ear wires. You are now ready to add a beaded dangle or charm.
Final note: I usually also tumble my earring wires to further harden them. I think it also makes the ends even smoother. I use a Lortone rotary tumbler that I purchased from Fire Mountain Gems. This step is optional but recommended if you are making lots of jewelry.
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