Saturday, August 11, 2007

Making Your Own Earwires

After spending what I felt was too much on the components for making earrings,
and being frustrated because the components were never quite what I wanted,
I decided that I needed to figure out how I could make my own!

  • Use 20 gauge (0.8mm) wire, which is sturdier than 22 gauge (0.6mm), and fits most pierced ears. (18 gauge wire tends to be too thick to fit through traditional pierced ear lobes.)
  • BIC Softfeel™ Pen with a round shaft and a rubber pad to grip the wire
  • flat file, or even better, a cup burr to file the ends of the ear wires and help prevent infections from the scrapes that jagged edges could cause. A cup burr can be inserted into a Dremel™ tool or Flex-Shaft™ drill. Then, you simply put the end of the ear wire into the cup and turn the drill on. The cup burr files the end of the ear wire into a nice dome that fits nicely through pierced ears without scraping and causing infection. A cup burr that is larger than the wire makes it easier to fit the end of the ear wire into the cup.
  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • flush cutters
  • bench block and hammer

Begin by cutting a 3" piece of wire and pulling it straight. Make a small loop with the tip of your round nose pliers, at one end of the wire. This loop will be the spot where you attach any embellishments. The wire now resembles a head pin.

Now, move the round nose pliers to the other side of the loop. Nestle the pliers against the edge of the loop, and bend the wire over the pliers to almost a 90° angle. Hold the loop of the wire, so that the long piece of wire points at you. Place the pen about 1/2" away from the bend in the wire and roll towards the bend, creating the hook of the ear wire.

Make any minor adjustments, so that the wire looks right and cut off excess wire about 1/4" past the bottom of the small loop. At the very bottom of the straight wire, make a slight bend away from the loop.

File the tip as described above. Hammer the front of the ear wire to add a more elegant feeling.

I learned this technique from the book, "All Wired Up," by Mark Lareau.

I've looked through several different wire working books, and this one is a really great beginner's book. It describes all the different tools you'll need, touching upon basic techniques and delving further into intermediate techniques as well.

A peek into the table of contents:
  • Introduction -
  • Materials & Tools - The author really stresses that the only things you really need are wire, your hands, pliers, and flush cutters. He thoroughly explains different wires and the important factors to consider when choosing a wire. Then, he goes on to explain the three essentials : Round Nose Pliers, Flush Cutters, and Chain Nose Pliers. Other tools he explains as useful, but non-essential are : Wire Straightening Pliers, Flat Nose Pliers, Bench Block and Hammer, Jewelry Bead Crimp Pliers, Tool Magic® Rubber Coating, and needle files or Cup Burrs.
  • Getting Started - A short list of "To Do's," including working with clean hands, watching your posture, how to hold your pliers, and straightening your wire.
  • Basic Wirework Techniques - Making loops of all sorts for headpins, opening and closing loops, wrapped loops, and scrolls (or spirals).
  • Basic Wirework Projects - Donut pendant wraps, Donut embellishments, and freeform coil earrings.
  • Findings - Wrapped wire bails for turning beads or crystals into pendants or earrings, and Fancy Headpins (triangle, heart, and star).
  • Ear Wires - Plain ear wires, Plain ear wires with a bead, Fancy ear wires (incorporating the techniques used in making fancy head pins).
  • Clasps - "S" Clasps, with and without a bead, Hook and Eye Clasps, and the "Strongest Wire Hook and Eye Clasp in the Universe!"
  • Cages - Wirewrapping Marbles, Wire Capped Bead, and Wirewrapping Cabochons.
  • Gallery of Comtemporary Wirework - Pictures incorporating all of the techniques learned in previous chapters (and more) intended to inspire you to get creative!

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