There are many ways to make popular cluster dangle earrings like these. The directions I see most often are for attaching beads to a chain with jump rings. However, my favorite way to make these great earrings is a little more laborious, but it gives you more control, a sturdier earring and often a fuller look. In this instructable, I'll show you how to make your own dangles and build your own chain for the earring base. This is also an ideal project to practice making wrapped loops and end up with awesome earrings. I hope you enjoy it!
Step 1: What You Will Need
An even number of small beads (20-30). If the holes are bigger than the headpins, you'll also need the same number of seed beads.
Two larger beads
One pair of ear wires
Jump rings (open) - I used 4mm ovals. (10 - 14, depending on how many beads you use)
Headpins - one per bead (1 - 2 inches, 22g - 24g)
Two pairs of pliers with a flat interior surface. They can be chain nose or flat nose.
Round nose pliers
Step 2: Make All Your Dangles First
String a bead (with optional seed beads) onto a headpin. Leave at least a 1/2" unbeaded "tail".
Bend the tail of the headpin at a right angle, 2 - 4mm above the top of the beads(s) with flat nose pliers.
With round nose pliers, hold the wire tail at the bend and loop the wire tail over the pliers and into a circle with your fingers.
Then wrap the remaining wire tail around the headpin in the space left above the beads. Make at least 1 full wrap. You can wrap as many times as you want after that, if the wire is long enough. Use pliers to add stability.
Cut excess wire close to the wraps.
Step 3: Keep Making Dangles
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Keep making dangles with the small beads until you have two sets of at least 5 - 10 beads each. I used 12 dangles for each earring for a total of 24 small bead dangles.
Step 4: Large Beads
Make dangles with your large beads. You'll only need two. These will hang at the bottom of your earrings.
Step 5: Begin Assembly
Open 1 jump ring with pliers.
Slide on an ear wire.
Add 1 dangle to each side of the ear wire and close the jump ring.
Set the grouping down in this configuration and repeat with the other ear wire.
Note: I find the easiest way to open jump rings is to hold each side of the cut with a pair of flat surfaced pliers and twist slightly in opposite directions. Never pull the opening apart. Always twist.
Step 6: Second Level
Open a second jump ring.
Add it to the first ring, making sure you keep the configuration from the previous step.
Step 7: More Dangles
Add a dangle so they fall to each side of the open jump ring.
Close the jump ring.
Repeat with the other earring.
Step 8: Keep Going
You will build a chain of dangles in this way until you like the look and the length.
Work upside down, but hold your earrings right-side-up once in a while to see how they look. Remember to make sure your dangles fall to each side of the jump ring when you pick up the cluster again.
Step 9: The Last Dangle
Before you close the last jump ring on each earring, add the dangle with the larger bead.
Close the jump ring and hold your earring by the ear wire.
If you like, do the other one and you're done!
Step 10: Variations
I used metal beads and charms for the small dangles and lamp worked glass ovals for the focal bead.
You can also change the look by using different sized jump rings or using rings to attach some larger holed beads.
Step 11: Details
Jewel toned lampworked beads and crystal beads.
You can see the metal beads I used as part of my design. You can also use ball end head pins to add a pretty element without adding weight.
Step 12: The Possibilities Are Endless
With this technique you can make any length earring in any colors you want. They can be elegant or rustic, cheap or expensive, depending on the materials you choose.
(I'd love to see what you make, so please post if you feel like sharing your work : )