Introduction: Tin Hoops
Since the comeback of 80‘s and 90‘s style in the fashion world, hoops are a big thing again.
From thin to bold, metallic or colorful you can find them everywhere for a decent price at the moment. To bring more diversity in the whole jewelery world again and to create something aesthetically pleasing and new with a little budget, I made those tin hoops. Their unfinished look is inspired by the Japanese wabi-sabi style, which aims to keep things in their imperfect, natural way (which makes it beautiful then).
This DIY is for all my fellow students with a low budget or anyone who enjoys crafting and trying out new things. I hope you enjoy!
- 50g Tin (I ordered mine on amazon)
- Material for the form : Modeling clay/ FIMO or stone
- Tools for finishing the hoops (files, felt, needles, scraper, spatula)
- pot for melting the tin (preferably an old one)
- wire (I recommend silver or proper steel because your ears will handle it better)
- tin foil and glass form as underlay
- optional: silver cleaning agent
Step 1: Positive Form
I started with modeling the positive form of the hoop, out of the clay. The clay I had would dry quickly, which was why I smoothed over some cracks with water later on. When doing your hoops you should keep in mind to start off with a rather bold form, because tiny detailed shapes can crack or break easily. Tin can be very heavy on your ears, which is why you should try to balance out thinness with stability. While doing my hoops I tried to hollow out the inner part of the ring, to use less material and therefore create less heaviness.
When you are happy with your form you can either bake it in the oven or microwave the modeling clay (or let it dry out If you want to wait a few hours/ a day). Make sure to read the instructions for your clay carefully (I baked my clay in the microwave and had to place a cup of water with it inside, for example).
I also happened to find it much easier to execute the dry form, than the still soft one. For that I used sandpaper and a small file.
Step 2: Negative Form
If your form is finished then, it’s time to create the negative form (It is obviously also possible to only do the negative form, but I felt it would be much easier to create a well executed form when doing the positive first-hand). To do so, I simply pressed the now, dried and hard, positive form in a bulk of more clay (press slowly and carefully, otherwise the form could break!).
While obviously having two ears, I repeated that with another bulk, to get a second form. Make sure there are no fusses or cracks in your form. Using water to smooth things over helps as well.
Before baking, you‘ll need to put the wire in the still soft form. This is going to be the stud that will go through the hole in your earlobe. Take a small gripper and bend the end of the wire into a small circle. The circle is essential, because it will make the stud hold better in the tin. Be precise when bending, because this is one of the most important part of the process. Now cut the end of the wire (file the end of it, it could be sharp from cutting) and push it carefully at the end of the soft form. Make sure that the wire has the same depth in the clay on all sides and then cover it with a little more clay (water helps to smooth). I also tried to push some clay in the middle of the form (from the hollow part of the positive form) to prevent the hoops being too thick in the inside and being too heavy.
After that it‘s time to bake! The finished form can be edited with a file or smoothed out with sandpaper.
Step 3: Melting and Pouring the Tin
Time for the tricky but also most fun part! Place the pot on your stove and put it on the highest temperature. Try to put in rather more than less tin, because it can be melted again later on anyway and pouring twice won‘t look very good. Melting will probably take about 5-10min, but then you need to be very quick, because it hardens again very fast.
The two negative forms should be placed on a flat surface, the best would be tin foil in a glass form that has a flat ground (don‘t ruin your wooden kitchen table like I did - tin foil only doesn‘t keep the heat away). When the tin is fluid, you need to pour it quickly in the two forms. Rather spill some and fill the form properly than otherwise. You can remove, useless, spilled parts later on.
WARNING: Be very VERY cautious because the tin will be burning hot, believe me you don‘t want to touch any of it while being fluid!
When it‘s poured, you can lean back and let it cool down. It will take around 10 to 20 minutes.
Step 4: Finish
The tin can be removed from the form after it has cooled down. Sometimes it‘s necessary to break the form, in order to get the tin out.
Now it‘s time for fixes. What I did was clipping the spilled tin off the original form. After that I made sure there were no sharp edges, by sanding them with sandpaper. Depending on how shiny you want to have your earrings, you can either sand them fully (makes them matte) or leave them to their original shine (like I did).
It could happen that your earrings might have a golden shimmer or spots on them. You can easily remove them using the felt, by simply rubbing it over the surface. Just make sure to clean the earrings afterwards, because the felt can leave some stains behind (I used water, soap, and silver cleaning agent).
The last step would be to disinfect the wire, in order to remove anything harmful for your ears.
Finished. The method is also great for different shapes and jewelry. The bangles in the last photo are an example. Enjoy wearing whatever you made!