Introduction: Foldformed Circle Earrings

Picture of Foldformed Circle Earrings

This instructable will show you how to make your own foldformed earrings with some basic tools.  The possible designs are endless!  

Step 1: Tools Needed

Picture of Tools Needed

You will need the following tools to complete this project:
1) circle template
2) marker
3) files 
4) 0.4-0.6mm thick piece of coper
5) hammers - rawhide & metal
6) shears
7) anvil or steel plate
8) hole punch for piercing metal, drill or dremel
9) torch, kiln or natural gas stove to anneal copper

Step 2: Cut & File Circles

Picture of Cut & File Circles

Use the circle template to draw circles on your copper.  My circles had a diameter of 1.5".  Cut out the circles with your shears & file the edges smooth.

Step 3: Fold Circles in Half

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Fold your copper circles in half & hammer flat with rawhide mallet.

Step 4: Hammer Fold

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Hammer fold edge with metal hammer.

Step 5: Anneal & Quench

Picture of Anneal & Quench

The copper is stiff after all the hammering.  Therefore, anneal it before going to the next step.  You can use a torch such as propane or butane to anneal your copper.  I held my pieces over one of the burners on my natural gas stove.  When the copper turns dull red - it's annealed. Quench the piece by dropping it in a container of water.  Dry thoroughly before continuing.  

Step 6: Open Fold & Confirm It

Picture of Open Fold & Confirm It

Open up the copper & hammer on the fold.  

Step 7: Repeat the Annealing & Hammering

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You can hammer as many folds into your piece as you like.  I chose to do four folds to get a "star" pattern.

Step 8: Add Holes

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Add holes for your ear wire.  I used a punch for piercing thin gauge metal, but a rotary hand tool (dremel) or drill would work equally well.

Step 9: Final Cleanup

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You can lightly sand your copper circles with 500 or 600 grit sandpaper or drop them in a pickle to remove all the firescale (black & red spots).  I used a pickle because it's faster.  My pickle is made from a super saturated solution of vinegar and sea salt.  Finally I added the ear wire which you can buy in the jewelry section of your local craft store or Walmart.  I decided to keep going with these earrings, so I cut out parts of the edges, textured them with hammers and stamps, plus used purple Sharpies for color.


CherylDunham (author)2011-11-27

Hi great earrings. I have a question. Why do you have the copper covers on the jaws of your vice? I assume it is for protecting other metal that you may clamp with it! Thanks

dorseykm (author)CherylDunham2011-11-27

Thanks for commenting and the jaws of my vice are textured (not smooth & flat). if I don't want to imprint the jaw pattern on the piece I'm working then I have to protect the piece. I used copper because I had it available and rubber is another common material to use. One of the rules I learned for jewelry work is to protect your piece from any accidental marks.

CherylDunham (author)dorseykm2011-11-27

Thanks for your answer, it is as I had suspected. I think I need to cover mine, they are not smoothe either. Thanks again. CD

Travpena (author)2011-08-06

instead of cutting out a copper sheet, have you ever tried smashing some pennies?

dorseykm (author)Travpena2011-08-06

No, I haven't tried that. The pennies might be a little thick for foldforming which generally uses thin pieces of copper because the folding provides a lot of stiffness. I'd love to see pictures if you try this technique with a penny.

sunshiine (author)2011-06-24

That is what I was reminded of also. Very pretty! Thanks for sharing your hard work!

dorseykm (author)sunshiine2011-06-25

Thanks & glad you like them.

NaturalCrafter (author)2011-06-21

These ear rings remind me of precious sand dollars...So cool

dorseykm (author)NaturalCrafter2011-06-21

Thanks for the compliment.

ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)2011-06-17

Very cool. I did some metalworking in college, annealing and rawhide mallets and the whole shebang, and this brought it all back. nicely done earings.

dorseykm (author)ATTILAtheHUNgry2011-06-18

Thank you & maybe this will encourage you to try metalworking again.

kdisom (author)2011-06-17

Your earrings are beautiful ! !

dorseykm (author)kdisom2011-06-18

Thank you.

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