Introduction: Solar System Spiral Earring
"All motion is curved and all curvature is spiral" (Walter Russell)
The spiral as a (religious) symbol has been found all over the world and dates back to ancient times.
In the natural world spirals are everywhere, ranging from the very small like our DNA, to the very big like the milky way.
Spiral shapes and/or patterns can be found in plants, animals and in the motion of water and wind.
Math can be seen as a language describing nature and the golden spiral is found in flowers, shells, vegetables and numerous other examples.
In our Solar System, planets spiral the sun, slowly being pulled closer by the gravitational forces created by the sun's mass each time they orbit.
Our Solar system revolves around the center of our (spiral) galaxy (Think of Monty Python's Galaxy song, I'm hearing it right now lol)
When I first saw a spiral earring I really liked it, but I never came across one that I wanted to buy... so when I wanted to start practicing making jewelry and was thinking of what would be a 'not to difficult but still nice, and something that I would actually wear' first project, this was an easy choice.
I like it when jewelry has some personal meaning to the person who wears it instead of just being aesthetically pleasing... this earring is an ode to our Solar System and to nature in general, which is all, and therefore this item is more to me then just an accessory.
I chose to include Pluto even though I know that it is no longer considered a planet, the reason why is that I have always identified with Pluto because it corresponds with my astrological sign (Scorpio) and I empathize with it's position as an outsider and a reject.
This spiral earring will fit in a pierced ear that is stretched just enough to wear a regular sized body piercing or multiple ear piercings in it.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- a small hobby- or jewelers hammer with a flat head
- round nose pliers
- needle nose pliers (optional, come in handy for holding the wire in position)
- side cutters
- diamond files
- a jewelers anvil
- optional: a butane torch
- protective gear; dust mask, safety glasses
- sterling (925) silver wire with a 1mm diameter (about 18 gauge).
- beads that bear a resemblance with the planets of our solar system, I used semi precious gemstone beads:
*The sun = Goldstone
*Mercury = Hematite
*Venus = Jade (a soft pink variety)
*Earth = Jasper (artificially coloured)
*Mars = red Jasper
*Jupiter = Agate (brown striped)
*Saturn = Tigers eye
*Uranus = Howlite
*Neptune = Amazonite
*Pluto = Indian Agate
I wanted to use all natural stones but I ended up choosing Goldstone (which is man made) for the sun, because it was the best choice in terms of appearance, a funny thing about Goldstone is is that it is often mispresented as a natural gemstone, in fact it is made of glass with copper flecks in it.
I read somewhere on the internet that Goldstone was first manufactured by alchemists trying to create gold, to be honest I have some strong doubts about the authenticity of this statement, but it's a nice story!
At first I was planning to use a Lapis lazuli bead as Earth, but when I saw the Jasper bead that I used I couldn't resist it because of it's strong resemblance to our home planet, even when it is artificially coloured (which normally puts me off).
Step 2: Straighten Up and File Right
If your wire needs straightening, the easiest way to accomplish this is to take a piece of cloth and hold the wire between your thumb and index finger, first move the cloth up the wire while applying pressure with your thumb to one side of the wire, repeat this but now apply pressure to the other side of the wire, keep on doing this until the wire is straight enough (if you want a more visual explanation of this technique, you can find instructional video's on the internet, this is how I first learned of this.)
Next, file down the end of the wire with the use of a diamond file so it won't have any sharp edges.
Step 3: Time to Bend the Fabric of Space
Take your round nose pliers and grab the end of your wire (the end that you have just filed down) and gently start bending it, roll it around the tip of the nose of the pliers until a small spiral appears.
You can hold the wire either with your free hand or your other pliers while bending.
Step 4: Hammer Time!
Lay the silver wire spiral on the anvil, grab your hammer and gently start hammering, proceed until it's flattened to your liking.
The next step is optional; take out your butane torch and anneal the flattened spiral for a very short time, it may lose some of its shape but you can easily bend it back into shape afterwards, after you have reshaped it, flatten it again.
Why bother with annealing? It makes the metal more workable and the end result seems to be more sturdy in my opinion.
If you don't like the scorched appearance of the silver now is the time to polish and buff it, I did not because I like the sort of 'raw' blackened look that it has now.
The last picture in the row shows the spiral after it's been treated with the butane torch and bent and hammered back into shape
Step 5: Here Comes the Sun...
Now take the first bead, the Sun! (Goldstone) and put it on the wire.
Lay the wire on the anvil and gently start hammering the wire directly behind the sun bead, flatten the wire so that the bead will stay into place.
When you do this, be careful not to hit the beads because you might damage or even break them (see footnote for the tale on how I shattered Venus but redeemed myself in the end and made everything right again lol).
Step 6: Mercury Rising
Add the second bead; Mercury, repeat the process of the last step.
Step 7: Birth of a Solar System
Now add the other beads and repeat the flattening process after each bead you place on the wire, when you are confused about the order in which you should place the beads you can use the following mnemonic : "my very excellent mother just served us nachos", or if you're a bit of a stubborn nut, like me ;) and you want to include Pluto; "my very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas".
Step 8: The Shape of Things to Come
When all the beads are anchored into place, start shaping the tail of the spiral that will go through your ear, determine how to bend it so that the earring will be balanced when it's dangling from your lobe, so that it will not hang in a position that you didn't intend and that it won't slide out of your ear.
Also think of what to do with the end of the wire once you cut it, think of things like how to shape it in such a way that it will not get tangled in your hair all the time and how it will slide through the pierced hole comfortably.
When you are satisfied, cut the wire..
Step 9: The Home Stretch
Now flatten the tail of the spiral with your hammer, I forgot to take a picture here because at this point I shattered Venus, which confused me.
File down the end of the wire.
Optional: as before, you can anneal the end of the spiral if you want to and then reshape it (this is what I did), don't heat it for to long and try not to get near the planets.
If you want to you can now polish and buff the wire.
Step 10: All Done!
You're all done!
I hope you've enjoyed this instructable and that if you do make a Solar system spiral earring yourself you will enjoy it for a long time.
Have fun :)
Step 11: *Footnote
As I mentioned before, I shattered Venus during the flattening process, I got a bit to over-exited because I thought the tail of the spiral gave me an opportunity to try out a slightly bigger jewelers hammer, but with one of the first strikes Venus was shattered to pieces...
After I finished the earring I started thinking about how I could solve this, first I wanted to try to take all of the beads of again, but because of the flattened wire this would be worse then starting over (an option I considered as well), but I did not want to give up so easily and decided that I wanted a solution that would not include disassembling or discarding the earring.
In the end I concluded that the only suitable option that I could think of was to saw a replacement bead in half and glue it around the wire.
So I took my (rotary) multitool, equipped it with a diamond cutting disc, placed the bead in a bank screw and cut it into two halves.
After this I found out that to much of the bead had been grind off for it to fit, so I worked on the two halves with a diamond file, reconstructed part of the hole that's supposed to be in the middle of the bead and in the end made it fit.
The reason that I'm sharing this tale with you (apart from making myself look heroic) is that someone might come across this problem and now won't have to search for a solution themselves and also to show that things can go wrong during a creative process, but if they do, don't give up, because where there is creative flow there is always a creative solution... a river finds the way of the least resistance and in doing so, carves out a beautifully shaped path...
So far for now with the motivational talk, I'm done.