Tag Archives: earrings

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 15: Amethyst Stud Earrings

Last night, I had a great idea for a pair of earrings; and all day I’ve been trying to snatch an hour or two, here and there, to be able to get them done.

I drew out my design this morning and worked out what materials I would need to use.  Today, I made everything in this design from scratch (except the pair of cabochon amethysts and the earrings posts/butterflies for the back) using only scrap pieces.

First, I had to make the bezel mounts with solid backs (so I had somewhere to add the earring posts) – I didn’t want to use a purchased setting.  The cabochons are pretty small (8x6mm) and I didn’t have thin enough flat bezel wire, so I used my dividers on the stones to find out how thin the bezel wire should be.  I transferred this onto the bezel wire by holding one point of the dividers at the edge and scoring along the wire with the other.  I then cut down the scored line with my tin-snips.  The cup of the bezel (which will hold the gem) was made by soldering the bezel wire into a circle and then shaping it round the oval gem.  This was then soldered (using hard solder) to the small scraps of 0.4mm silver sheet (by putting it all on a wire mesh and heating from underneath so not to melt the bezel) and the excess cut away and then filed smooth.

Next, I needed to make the ball-ended wires.  I found enough wires in my scrap box and then created the ball at one end of each wire by holding it pointing downwards and heating with my blow-torch till the end started to melt and drew up into a ball.  Each one was dropped into water to quench it – they cool quickly, but can still be hot even when they look cold on the surface.  I didn’t want any burned fingers!

The wires were shaped with round-nosed pliers and fingers to fit the design and then cut to size.  I had to remember that one of the pair would be a mirror-image of the other, meaning that each wire on that earring would have to be placed back-to-front, or  both earrings wouldn’t look like a pair.

I didn’t solder all the wires on at the same time.  First, I soldered the two wires that went around the bezel setting.  Only once they were looking right, did I solder the other wires on.  This helped me keep the wires looking the same on both earrings and minimised any movement – as light pieces (such as these wires) can either be blown around by the heat of the blow-torch or slide away when the solder melts.

After quenching again, I turned the earrings over and stamped “925” on each one.  The earring post was attached by a technique known as “sweating”.  This meant that I melted solder onto the earring post and let it go cold. Then (after fluxing the earring to help the solder flow), the earring post was held upright (with heat-resistant tweezers) against the back of the earring and the earring was heated.  As the earring got to the right temperature, the earring post was heated too and as the solder melted, it was drawn to the earring and soldered the two together.  (It helps to know that solder will travel towards heat; and that grease, gaps, and fire-scale all stop solder from flowing, so that flux is needed for successful soldering.

I decided that the bezels looked a little plain (as well as still being a little too high for my taste), and so used my triangular file to file notches all the way round each bezel.  After rounding off any sharp bits, it gave the bezel a pleasing scalloped edge.  Checking the stones in the bezels (using dental floss laid behind the stone and over the bezel edge, so I could get the stones back out!), I decided to raise them up a bit and so added an oval of 0.8mm square wire inside each bezel for this purpose.

A good half-an-hour in the pickle and then a preliminary file and polish by rotary-tool was all it took to get them at the stage I could throw them in the tumbler for about an hour or so.  I did remember to first neutralise the pickle on the earrings by dipping them in a solution of bicarbonate-of-soda, and also to give them a good wash & brush after using the silicon wheels.

All that was needed now was to set the amethysts – made much easier by having those notches cut in the edge – and here they are, fairy-tale earrings:

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day Six: I need The Doctor

It’s ten to two in the morning, but I did finish my daily challenge – even if it is a bit late.  I’ve got a horrible head cold and it’s made everything much harder today (even blinking hurts ).  I had a good dose of sea breezes and sunshine this morning, going to the beach with my husband Chris (www.winterblood.com) and daughter; but I still needed a doctor … well, The Doctor, actually.

Tonight (UK time)  was the last episode of Dr Who for this current series (no spoilers here though!)  – by the time Little Miss was in bed asleep and Chris was home from work it was about 9:30pm and I just couldn’t wait any longer to watch it.  So, the upshot of all this, is that I didn’t actually get to sit down at my bench till 11pm today!

When I first started making jewellery (for other people, anyway), I did a lot of wire-wrapped jewellery.  In my scrap box are lots of pieces from that time which either I didn’t like, didn’t come out as planned, or have just been de-constructed as my skills improved and I wanted to make better pieces.  The wire-wrapped hearts I used for these earrings were originally part of a necklace which didn’t come out as I had wanted.  To start with, I tidied them up a bit, hammered them flat and soldered all the joins/wraps to make them more durable.

I just love the “heliotrope” Swarovski® crystal hearts – the colour is just amazing (blue with flashes of purple).  To hang one from each upside-down heart, I created for each a triangle (with an opening at the bottom and point at the top) to act as a bail and soldered this onto the same gauge round wire.  I sanded the front of the bail flat and soldered onto this a tiny silver heart, which I had cut out from thin silver sheet with my trusty saw and tiny blades.

As it was late and I couldn’t have the tumbler on without waking my daughter up; I used my wonderful silicone wheels to remove any firescale and then polish up the earring components.  It was very quick to do and, although didn’t give the high-shine that the tumbler would have, I liked the more matt finish which contrasted nicely with the sparkle of the crystal hearts.

The round wire was used as a pin on which I threaded two silver round beads and a “dark indigo” Swarovski® crystal.  A loop was added at the top and this was threaded through the loop at the bottom of the heart.  An ear-wire was added to each earring.

Looking at the earrings now, I think there is more than a slight nod to Tardis blue about them.  I’ve still got the sniffles, but at least I got to see one Doctor who made me feel much better today.  🙂

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge: Day Four (Trouble in Paradise)

For today’s scrap I found some 0.4mm thick silver sheet pieces hanging around, acting all tough at the bottom of the scrap pot.  I knew if I didn’t find a use for them today, then they would get their sharp little edges in all sorts of trouble later on.  And what better for sharp little tough guys than to be turned into smooth and shiny heart earrings.

I’ve been inspired by a few examples of jewellery using highly polished surfaces to reflect the colour of gems/crystals.  These reflection pieces look stunning, and I wondered if I could make something as nice myself.

Well, as it turns out, the answer is: “sort of”.

The small pieces of silver sheet were cut out by saw into two small heart shapes.  These were then shaped using the doming block.  Looking back (isn’t hindsight always 20:20, *sigh*!) it probably would have been better to have made the shapes circles rather than hearts because it would have been half a sphere and would have reflected better than the heart; which although curved well, didn’t reflect all the way round all at once.  Oh well, we live and learn (at least I did today, anyway).

The concave hearts were then polished to within an inch of their tiny silver lives – making them very polished and shiny indeed. Now came the part with all the trouble …

… The video instructions I had seen for making something similar (albeit with circles rather than hearts) said to drill a hole in the middle and then thread a head-pin through with a coloured glass bead between the head of the pin and the silver.  Okay, that bit was easy.  The bit that was difficult to understand was that they next said to solder the back of the pin to the silver and take away the excess.  Well, even though I knew that the silver would firescale, I gave it a go … and yes, it did blacken; even after using extra easy solder and a very soft flame.  Oh well, back to polishing up that piece of silver then.

So, how to attach the crystal to the silver? I tried lots of cold-connection ideas and spent a good while trying to sort out this problem – and I am pleased to say that I know when to give up!  I decided to leave that problem for another day and a trip to the internet!

What I decided to do in the end was to use some lilac CZ gems pre-drilled with a hole at one edge, that I had laying around and hadn’t known what to do with.  I had wanted a deep colour but beggars can’t be choosers and the CZ also gave off such beautiful and subtle reflections, that I decided to favour sparkle over the wow factor that a deeper colour would have given.

I drilled a small hole just under the “v” of each heart and threaded through a very thin wire jump-ring with the CZ attached.  Another small jump-ring joined the heart to the ear-wire, and the earrings were complete.

I think if/when I make these again, I will try using a half-sphere (maybe soldered onto a heart shape) and solder a jump-ring on the back before I polish them up.  The headpin that goes through the crystal and attaches to the silver may have to be done a different way – maybe trying to splay out the end of the headpin like a rivet?  I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Anyway, here are my Day Four earrings:

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day Two

Well, today has been busy – what with taking Frodo to the Vets for his antibiotics, and trying (and mostly failing) to keep up with the messy whirlwind that is my daughter having her own creative day (don’t ask – all you need to know is that there is glitter everywhere!).

My creative day has been mostly about making a locket in PMC fine silver and sterling silver (will post about that when I’ve finished it!); but I’ve still managed to find the time to recycle something else from my scrap.

As I didn’t have as much time as yesterday, I decided to make a pair of earrings out of some wire-work that I had originally made into a pendant.  The shape was originally created on a jig in 1mm round sterling wire and  was basically a symmetrical pattern of long loops (I forgot to take a photo before I started chopping it up – sorry!) to which I had added dangles of crystals and silver beads.

Firstly, I removed everything (to be put away and reused later) apart from the main silver wire shape.  This I cut into two identical pieces and the cut ends I hammered flat before curling into new loops.  Any wires that crossed were gently hammered to flatten the design and to make it easier to solder.  I added a jump ring, with about a quarter cut out, to the top for hanging the earring wire from.  Soldering was done with easy paste solder –  I don’t use the syringe tips now, I find it easier to use my solder pick to smear small amounts of the solder just where I need it.

I also have a box for any PMC silver items that have been fired but not used – some are tests; some are things I have made and then taken apart again; and some are total disasters which may not have been what I wanted, but still interesting enough to keep.  Any mistakes that didn’t make it into the box, I deny all knowledge of!  Anyway, from this box I found two hearts with a hammered texture (done with the round end of a small paintbrush) which used to be a pair of earrings on their own.  These were just perfect for the bottom of my earrings.

I added earring wires in a nice simple design (made from scrap wire too), but something was missing.  It needed something to make it that bit more special.  Well, even though I am a sucker for anything sparkly, this needed something a bit more classic.  I have a unit with all my boxes of gems, crystals and findings, and one box is labelled “Mother of Pearl and Pearls”.  Inside this I have beautiful freshwater pearls that are almost round.  I prefer these because I feel that they have more character than the perfect round ones, and they have the most beautiful lustre.  So, I’ve added to each one, a simple drop with a single pearl and a long sterling bead, which just finished off the earrings perfectly.

And here they are:

Simply stylish pearl and silver earrings