Are you looking for an easy and fun technique for making earrings? Try these beautiful metal Chased Earrings from Jen Cushman’s new book Making Metal Jewelry.
The following tutorial was previously published in the book Making Metal Jewelry by Jen Cushman, copyright 2012; republished here courtesy of createmixedmedia.com.
My grandmother used to tell me that when I wanted to learn a new skill all I had to do was “begin at the beginning.” As a child, I would look at her quizzically, thinking, “Huh?” Today I understand what she meant. Start simple and don’t tackle too much at once. These earrings are good starting point to learn how metal moves when you chase it with a hammer.
heavy-duty flush cutters
hole punch, 1⁄16″ (2mm) or drill
12-gauge wire, sterling silver
20-gauge wire, sterling silver
22-gauge wire, sterling silver
liver of sulfur
1. Using flush cutters, cut two 2″ (5cm) lengths of 12-gauge sterling silver, dead soft round wire.
2. File both ends of both pieces to remove any burrs, making the ends flat.
3. Hammer both pieces of wire so they are fairly flat. Keep the natural curve of the wire; don’t worry about making the pieces straight.
4. Flare out the ends on both pieces by hammering further with the ball end of the hammer, making paddles.
5. Create texture on the wires using the ball end of the hammer.
6. Use a file to smooth and round out the paddle shapes.
7. Use a center punch to mark for one hole in both ends of both wires.
8. Drill a tiny hole at each divot, using a drill or a punch. If you use a drill, be sure to drill into a piece of scrap wood.
9. Remember to drill a hole in both ends.
10. Make a headpin by drawing a bead on one end of a 4″ (10cm) piece of 22-gauge wire. Thread a bead onto it.
11. Thread the headpin through the bottom hole on one metal piece.
12. Draw a bead on the other end of the wire, using a torch. (See below for the technique.)
13. With the metal strip slid down and out of the way, create a loop at the base of the bead using round-nose pliers.
14. Slide the metal strip back up and into the loop you made. Wrap the excess wire around itself until all the wire is used up. Repeat steps 10 through 14 for the second wire.
15. Make a pair of French ear wires from the 20-gauge sterling silver wire. (See below for the technique.) Thread one through the top end of each metal piece and crimp the loop closed.
16. Dip the pieces in liver of sulfur.
17. Polish the pieces with steel wool.
TIP: There are numerous ways to create variations on this project. You could leave the hole and crystal dangle off of the bottom, or you could use a forming block to create a wavy pattern along the length of the chased wire as just a couple of ideas.
Drawing the Bead
1. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers reserved for torch work, hold a length of wire in the propane flame. The tip of the wire should be at the tip of the blue part of the flame.
2. Hold it until the wire starts to melt and draws up into a small bead. A gut reaction is to pull the wire from the flame the moment the ball begins to form, but waiting a beat longer allows the heated metal to make a nice round ball.
3. When you have a nice ball, remove the wire from the flame. Be careful not to wait too long or the ball will fall off. It’s a delicate balance!
4. To make a metal fiber, draw a bead on the other end of the wire as well.
French Ear Wire
1. Cut a 2″ (5cm) length of wire.
2. Draw a bead on one end.
3. Remove the firescale with steel wool.
4. Create a little hook on the ball end of the wire using the end of your round-nose pliers.
5. Bend the loop back a bit to center it over the remaining length of wire.
6. Wrap the remaining wire in the opposite direction around a 1⁄2″ (13mm) or 7⁄16″ (22mm) mandrel.
7. Curl the end of the wire up just a bit.
8. Work-harden the ear wires in the center portion of the curve—just a bit—on a steel block.
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