Introduction: Ornate Ear Cuff Tutorial
First Prize in the
This tutorial teaches you how to make an ear cuff that is decorated with beautiful coiled swirls and beads.
• 15” 20g round dead soft wire
• 3½” 20g round Half hard or full hard wire (dead soft will work if you harden it a bit before working with it)
• 18’ 28g round dead soft wire
• 1 4mm bead
• 8-10 small beads (1.8mm-2mm. Size 10 or 11 seed beads will also work but you may need to use more of them)
• Wire cutters
• Round nose pliers
• Flat nose pliers (nylon jaw will work best because of the coils but you can use regular flat nose pliers as well)
• 8mm mandrel or pliers with an 8mm round barrel
• Needle file or cup bur
• Permanent marker
• Straight pin
Recommended Prerequisite Tutorials:
• Basic Weaving Techniques
• Basic Weaving Techniques: Adding a Bead to a Weave Scroll down past the basic weaving techniques tutorial
Cut the dead soft 20g wire into 3 pieces of 5” each. Mark the center with a permanent marker.
The mark you make here will start to fade while you are weaving. You may need to re-mark the wire as you go.
Cut a 2’ piece of 28g wire and wrap it around one of the 20g wires about 5 times approximately ¼” away from the center mark.
Place a second 20g wire next to the first one. Bring the 28g wire between the two 20g wires, and then make 1 complete wrap around the second wire.
Place the 3rd wire next to the 2nd wire. Bring the 28g wire between the 2nd and third wires, and then make 2 complete wraps around the 3rd wire.
After bringing the weaving wire up between the 2nd and 3rd wires again, make 2 complete wraps around the middle wire again.
Put 2 full wraps around the 1st wire again.
Continue weaving in this manner until you reach the marks made in the first step. Make sure you keep the weave tight by pushing the wires together with your fingernails as you weave.
Add a 4mm bead to the weaving wire. Lay the bead across the frame wires and bring the weaving wire down underneath all of the frame wires.
Wrap the weaving wire around the frame wire.
Bring the weaving wire up and insert it into the space created between the bead and the frame wires.
Pull the wire all the way through the space so that it wraps around the wire that is holding the bead in place.
Put several smaller beads on the weaving wire. The amount you need will vary depending on the beads you are using. You can make sure you have enough by pushing the beads all the way to the larger bead and wrapping the wire around the larger bead. You will need enough to reach halfway around the bead.
Insert the weaving wire into the space created between the bead and the frame wires, as you did in step 10, but on the opposite side of the bead.
Pull the weaving wire all the way through so that you have created a complete wrap around the wire holding the bead to the frame wires.
Repeat steps 12 and 13, securing the weaving wire to the wire you first wrapped in step 10.
Bring the weaving wire down underneath he frame wires again and continue weaving until you have another woven section that is about ¼” long, measuring from the marks you made in the 1st step of this lesson. Again, remember to keep pushing the weave tight using your fingernails.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, you can clip the beginning tale wire and press it against the frame wire.
Being careful to keep the woven section centered on the frame wires, wrap the remainder of the weaving wire around the frame wire to create a long coil. You will need to coil until you get to about 3/8” away from the end of the frame wire. You may need to add another wire to complete this coil.
In this picture, you can see that I bent the wire I was wrapping outward. It’s not a necessary step, but it does make it easier to coil the wire. Just make sure that as you bend it, you don’t cause the woven section to shift so that it is off center.
Coil all the remaining frame wires to about 3/8” away from the ends.
I find it easier to create a long coil on a separate wire, and then cut pieces off to fit the length I need. However, if you prefer, you can coil directly onto the frame wires. Just make sure that the woven section remains centered.
At this point, you will be doing 99% of the shaping by hand. While you are shaping the swirls, you have to be very careful not to damage the coils.
For this ear cuff, I am keeping the swirls on each side of the beaded focal as symmetrical as I can. Doing this allows the cuff to be work on either ear. If you would prefer to make a cuff that is for one particular ear only, don’t worry about keeping the two sides symmetrical.
From here through step 34 all steps are really just suggestions. This part of this lesson is more of a set of techniques that can be used however you see fit to create your own, one of a kind, ear cuff.
Bend two of the wires on one side outwards at about a 90º angle. Before bending the wires out, make sure that the woven section is centered, and be careful not to shift it while bending the wires.
Using your fingers only, shape the two wires that were bent outward in the previous step into small loops. The loops should end with the wire ends at about a 45º angle from the other wires.
Working with the middle wire, create a loop on each side of the center. Wrap the loop around the wire from the previous step.
Working with the first wire again, create another small loop beside the loop that was wrapped around it in the last step.
With the third wire, create the smallest loops you possibly can and press them as close as you can against the focal.
Working with the middle wire again, wrap loops around the third wire the similar to the loops you made on the first wire in step 21. After the loops are complete, it should look like you made a figure “8” out of the middle wire that connects the outer wires together.
Bend the wire ends from the middle wire downward so that they come out underneath the third wire. You’ll need to do this to keep them out of the way for the next step.
Using the third wire, wrap loops around the first wire. Keep the new loops as close to the last loops you made on the first wire as you can.
Take the wires you pushed downward in step 25 and wrap them back up over the wire they are looped on so that they are pointing up again.
If you look closely, you’ll see that there is a rather unsightly gap on each side of the wires you just moved. You’ll be filling this in at step 29.
Cut the wires from the previous step to about ½” (12mm) long. You may have to unwind a little bit of the coil as well so that about 2-3mm of the core wire is exposed.
File these ends smooth using either a cup bur or needle file.
Make small spirals out of the ends and push them into the gap mentioned in step 27.
Working with the first wire again, create a small loop on each side of the ear cuff.
Cut the wire ends ½” (12mm) away from the base of the loop. Un-wrap the coil if needed so that there is 2-3mm of core wire exposed. File the ends smooth.
Create small spirals at the ends of the wires you just cut.
Cut the remaining wires about 5/8” (15mm) from the base of the last loops you made with them. Again, expose 2-3mm of the core wires, and file the ends smooth.
Make spirals out of the ends of these last two wires.
At this point you will be working with the 3½” piece of half hard 20g wire.
Using your marker, mark the center of the wire.
Bend the wire around your round nose pliers, keeping the mark centered, until you have a “U” shape.
For this one, the band is about 5mm wide. You can make yours a different width if you like. Just keep in mind that the more ornate the decoration for the ear cuff is, and the longer you made it, the wider the cuff should be. This way the extra weight is more evenly distributed for the heavier ear cuffs. That will make them more comfortable and easier to wear.
At this point, measure the wire starting at the “U” shape end. You will need to mark the wire at 14mm, and again at 28mm.
These marks will probably fade as you weave, so you may need to re-mark the wire as you go.
For this one I’m starting with a 4’ piece of 28g wire. If you made your ear cuff wider or narrower, you will need more of less wire to compensate for it.
Wrap one end of the weaving wire around the “U” end of the 20g wire. 4-5 wraps should be enough.
Bring the wire down between the 2 sides of the 20g “U” and wrap it around the opposite side of the “U” one complete turn.
Bring the wire back between the two sides of the “U” again and wrap the weaving wire around the first side again. Wrap one complete turn around the wire again.
You will continue weaving this way for the rest of the ear cuff. If you would like to see this weave in more detail, refer to “Weave 3” in the Basic Weaving Techniques Tutorial.
Continue weaving until you are about 2mm away from the center marks. Remember to keep pushing the weave close together with your fingernail to keep it tight and even.
Pick up the focal you made and hold it against the center of the cuff you are working on now. Make sure that the part of the focal that curves is facing toward the “U” shaped end of the cuff.
At this point you will need to “sew” the focal onto the cuff with the weaving wire.
Turn the two pieces over, still holding them together as you were in the last step.
Using the weaving wire, insert it into one of the small spaces in the woven section of the focal close to where the cuff wire is. This should be done on the outer edge of the cuff.
You may need to use a straight pin to widen the space enough to push the wire in.
Pull the weaving wire all the way through to the front of the focal.
Wrap the wire over the edge of the focal and bring up around to the back again.
Working from the back again, insert the wire into a space in the weave on the focal towards the inside of the cuff.
Pull the wire all the way through so that it holds the cuff wire snug against the focal.
So far you’ve been working mainly between the first and second frame wires of the focal. At this point you need to start working between the second and third frame wires.
Insert the weaving wire into the front of the focal so that it comes out on the back side on the outer edge of the cuff.
Pull the wire all the way through.
Insert the wire back down into the weave in the back of the focal on the inside of the cuff.
Pull the wire all the way through.
Wrap the weaving wire around the closest cuff wire one time.
Insert the weaving wire into the back of the focal between the first and second frame wires again, and inside the cuff wires.
Pull the weaving wires all the way through.
Continue “sewing” the focal to the other side of the cuff the same way you did the first side.
After the focal and cuff are secured together, start weaving again.
Continue weaving again until you reach the second set of marks on the cuff wire.
As you can see here, I’ve bent both wires outward at a 90º angle. This isn’t necessary, but it does make the next part a little bit easier.
Wrap the weaving wire around one of the frame wires 4-5 times.
Cut the weaving wire close to the frame wire and press it flat.
Cut the frame wires approximately ¼” (6mm) away from the end of the weave. Smooth the ends with a needle file or cup bur.
Spiral the ends of the wire as tight as you can.
Measure the length of the finished cuff. It should be 1 1/8” (28mm) long. If it is a little bit off, either tighten the spiral a little bit to shorted the cuff, or open it up just a tiny bit to lengthen it.
Shape the cuff around an 8mm mandrel. There should be a gap between the ends about 4-6mm.
To get the focal to lay against the ear you will have to bend it backwards on both the top and bottom of the cuff.
I’ve shown before and after pictures here you can get a better idea of what this step is supposed to look like.
It may take several tries to get it shaped just right.
This is the most important step of all. Wear your ear cuff!
This image has instructions on how to properly adjust an ear cuff and how to put it on without damaging the cuff.
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