These Ruffled Leaf Earrings are perfect, simplistic earrings that are fun to wear and even more fun to make. This instruction will be for a basic 'leaf' shape but you can use literally any shape you would like. I will be using copper for my leaves but any 26-24 gauge sheet metal will work.
These earrings a great for beginners who may not even have all the tools and even for those with more advanced skills. It will be written for those with minimal jewelry skills. Along the way I will share some tips and tricks you may find helpful.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
Below is a list of suggested tools for this project.
Tools & Materials:
- Rawhide Mallet (Nylon would also work. You may simply need something to help flatten the metal after cutting.)
- Round Nose Pliers
- Center Punch
- Simple Drill or Hole Punch
- Shears or Jeweler's Saw
- Sharpie Marker
- 26-24 Gauge Metal (I will be using copper for this tutorial but the option are endless. Copper, Brass, Silver, etc.)
- Small Jump Rings
- Earring Hooks (Here I am using surgical steal hooks)
- Fine Grit Sand Paper (I use 1000 grit for light cleanup.)
- Bur Life or drill lubricant
- Paper/Cardstock for making a template
- Flat Nose Pliers for opening and closing jump rings
- **If you do not have metal shears or a jeweler's saw any a pair of scissors that your do not mind dulling can work. It just might be a bit more work to cut.
Step 2: Making a Template & Tracing Onto Your Metal
The first thing you will want to do is decide on the shape and size your would like your earrings and trace that onto paper. Cut our your new template and you are ready to trace.
Lay your template on your 26-24 gauge sheet metal of your choosing, close to the edge as to not waste your metal. Carefully trace around your template with a sharpie marker.
Next, flip your template over and trace a second piece. Flipping your template over will help ensure your earrings look more symmetrical when being worn. It's a simple precaution just in case your template itself is not completely symmetrical.
Tip: If you plan to make multiples, making a metal copy is a great way to have a template that will stand up to a lot of use. Here I am using a brass template I made.
Bonus Tip: Labelling one side of your template helps ensure you flip it properly when tracing the second piece.
Step 3: Cutting Your Pieces
Here you take either your shears, jeweler's saw, or even your house scissors your don't mind dulling and cut along the outside of traced your line.
Tip: Cutting this thinner sheet metal may cause it to bend and curl. Not to worry. Just take your rawhide mallet and lightly flatten the pieces band down. It actually aides in strengthening the metal.
Step 4: Finishing Edges
Use your metal file to smooth out any rough cuts or edges. Once that is done use your fine grit sandpaper to remove any scratches, marks, or lines left from the marker. Then continue to smooth any sharper edges.
Tip: Do your sanding on either a scrap piece of paper or a sticky note. I like to use scrap paper when I have it but here I did not so I used my trusty sticky note pad to protect my work surface.
Suggestion: I'm using a fine grit sandpaper as my metal is fairly free from scratches and I only need to remove the marker and smooth the edges. If your metal has scratches and you wish to remove them, start with 400 or 600 grit and work your way to a finer grit to remove them.
Step 5: Drilling Holes for Hooks
Use your sharpie and mark where you would like your hole to be. Use your center punch and mallet to make a dimple. This will keep your drill bit in place as you drill.
Move your piece onto a surface for drilling. (A wood surface would be a great idea.) To make your drill bit last longer be sure to use a drill lubricant like Bur-Life. Place your drill in the dimple you created, hold your piece down firmly and slowly work through the metal until all the way through. Repeat for the other earring.
Tip: I drill on a separate piece of wood to save my workbench from the many holes.
Alternative: If you have a hold punch you can use that in place of the drill. You can use any drill just make sure the hole is just large enough for your jump rings to fit through.
Step 6: Adding Your Ruffles
Now the fun part! Using round nosed pliers go in at an angle and twist your pliers forward and back to create your ruffles. Work your way down and then repeat on the other side.
Do any clean up needed. Any other scratches or imperfection you wish to remove, go back in with your sandpaper.
Tip: Working the metal like this will strengthen it to keep it form bending too easily. You can go over same side several times if you wish to have more ruffles.
Step 7: Final Assembling & Polishing
Now time to assemble the whole thing together. Attach your jump ring to your earring hook and then to the leaf. And that's it! You can wear them just as or polish the earrings if you wish.
Tip: I like using two jump rings at the top because I like the way if makes the earrings lay. One will work just fine if that is what you prefer.
I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. Please feel free to share your creations as I would love to see and enjoy your new pair of earrings! :D