Introduction: Swirled Silver Earrings
my sister loves long simple but obvious earrings. I wanted to make something that I had not seen by other artists. I also wanted a good excuse to use my, then brand new dapping block. These earrings are very simple to make, and if you do not have a dapping block, do not fret, simply do a flap version using a hammer and flat sheet of metal or something hard to pound against. The links are simply to assist you with finding the right materials, and I chose fire mountain gems because it is accessible to everyone.
Chain nose pliershttp://www.firemountaingems.com/shop/chain-nose-pl...
round nose pliershttp://www.firemountaingems.com/shop/round-nose-pl...
side cutterhttp://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20160... The ones that I prefer by a LOT are the very expensive ones so I showed a cheaper version here. Cutters make a big difference, so when you can afford good ones, go for it.
Mallet: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20348... look around you can find good brass or weighted rubber/leather mallets at various places. What you need is a mallet that will not "mushroom" the top of the dapping tools. The metal if it is metal needs to give before the steel. My favorite is the copper one in the picture, but I found that at an antique store, and I think it was home made.
Dapping Block: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20346... Again, you can use this or a regular claw hammer and a metal surface you can pound against.
Cup cutter (burr) https://www.widgetsupply.com/product/D-GO17.html I do NOT have one of these yet, but it would replace filing to smooth end of wire.
Sterling Silver Wire (or other pliable wire) 16-14 guages work well. Remember the smaller the number the thicker the wire.
Step 1: Prepping Your Wire
There is a Cup cutter or Burr tool that can make this step much easier, saddly I do not own one yet, so here is the most effective way I have found to do this.
Cut your lengths of wire, ~3-4 inches long
Lay a metal file on your pant leg (dont use your favorite pair of pants for this)
then supporting the end of the wire, rub the end on the file, turn rub turn rub. My son Kevin is pictured here showing you how to set it up.
NOTE: it is important that you round the ends of the wire, when you hit them with a mallet or dappling tool, it will make the shape of the end of the wire very obvious.
Step 2: Making a Wire Spiral
Making a spiral is very simple, but can be very frustrating your first time. If this is your first time, DO NOT use your silver wire, grab some recycled copper or other misc. wire to practice with.
1) cut your wire lengths, and prep the ends as shown in last direction.
2) grab the very tip of the wire in the smallest part of your chain nose pliers. This will have the wire straight out from the pliers at a 90 deg. angle Turn your wrist to form a tight horseshoe shape at the end of the wire.
3) Move the tip of your pliers down a short ways on the wire, you do not want to move all the way to the end of what is bent but about half way there, then gently bend again. (if you move to the end of your bend, it will not bend smoothly, just slid a little bit down and bend.
4) slide the pliers down a little bit more and bend again.
5) and again. when you are happy with the size of the spiral repeat on the other end.
For this style of earring I chose to coil my wire in the same direction on both sides.
Step 3: Using a Dapping Block
Dapping block use.
*At NO time in this project do you want to use one of the heads in the whole that it fits perfectly or smaller. If you do you will CUT your wire. You will want to always have a gap between the head and edge of the bowl that is just bigger than the gauge of your wire.
*Do not allow your wire shape to cross itself. it will squish the wire when hit with the mallet, often cutting the wire.
*Do not hit the steel dapping rods with a steel hammer. This may deform the rods possibly mushrooming the heads.
You will want to start off in the widest cup possible, this will help you get your shape.
With your fingers bend your spiral so that it will fit into the largest cup. Place the dapping rod on the spiral and hit it once with your mallet. Check for the result and hit again till you are comfortable that it has taken on the shape of that cup. How hard you need to hit, how many times, varies on wire, gauge and mallet. So hit once, look at it, hit again. Do this till you comfortably know how much you will need to hit it. Once it is shaped like the largest cup, work your way down, you will likely only need to hit it once or twice on the next steps downward until you are satisfied with the results.
At this point your earrings should both look similar to the last picture.
Step 4: Forming Your Final Earring Shape
At this point you should have a set of spiraled wires, with a spiral on each end.
Using round nose pliers grasp the wire near the center. It does NOT have to be the exact center, matter a fact off center often looks better.
Use your fingers to bring the wire down over your pliers, and cross them below. You can wrap it around the pliers again to form a tight look, or you can make a looser one. I chose a looser one this time.
Step 5: Polishing With a Tumbler
This step can be skipped. or simplified.
As you see in the image above, these earrings look pretty good, and a simple polishing cloth would make them shine... but there is another way that I LOVE to use. I also put on the ear wires, above, but for tumbling, i took them back off.
Materials for this:
Super Sun sheen burnishing compound: http://www.riogrande.com/Product/super-sunsheen-bu...
Tumbler : http://www.riogrande.com/Product/lortone-qt12-mid-... This is the tumbler I would reccomend but I would never pay that price...
Stainless steel mixed shot :http://www.riogrande.com/Product/stainless-steel-s... I did buy mine here and I still love it.
Fill drum between 1/2 and 3/4th full of steel shot and your jewelry. add water to just over the shot, and ~1 TB of burnishing compound. Let it run for 10 min, check the jewelry. Let run 10 more if needed.
Step 6: Add Ear Wires
If you have basic commercial ear wires, grasp the ring firmly with the chain nose pliers so that you are covering 1/2 of the loop with the tip being just on one side of the opening. Bend your pliers either forward or backward.
DO NOT pull the loop open as though it was pac man. this will be difficult to put back together.
Check out https://www.instructables.com/id/Chainmail-1/ by DIY Hacks and how too's Look at step 4, he has a beautiful picture of how to open and close chain mail rings correctly. ear wires work the same way.
That is it, your done! If you want the person who is receiving them to remember you, put them on something fun.
Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015