Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hand Formed Earwires 101

Ready to shift from manufactured earwires to hand formed earwires in your earring on!

Every beader who tackles earring design eventually gets tired of manufactured earwires over and over again. With the exception of leverbacks, and possibly the twisted wire "no slip" french earwires, it is easy to create your own and give your designs a little more uniqueness! And, it is actually cheaper if you buy wire in bulk by the foot!

You would be surprised at how easy it can be. First, you'll need some 20 gauge or 21 gauge wire. I use sterling silver...always. I prefer dead soft wire, but half hard will also work if you have some extra strength in your hands to bend it.

Then, cut two pieces of equal length, 2-3 inches is a good place to start. Use a pen or pencil to make the uppermost bend, and a pair of round nosed pliers to make a hanging loop and provide any extra shape to the backside of the wire. It is best, and makes for more consistent earwires, if you bend and shape both pieces of wire at the same time. The possibilities are endless!

Then, when you have mastered this and want to go a step further, you can consider a small jeweler's hammer and anvil to flatten portions of the wire. Also, a tumbler and steel tumbling shot with a little Dawn dishwashing soap will polish and harden your earwires in about 30 minutes of tumbling time. Any small nicks or scratches from cutting and bending the wire will also be removed!

Finally, invest in a small rounding tool, often referred to as a cup bur. Use it on the exposed tip of the earwire prior to tumbling to remove any sharpness from the cut edge.

I've scattered some pictures throughout of earwires I have formed. Good luck with yours!

DLPom Handcrafted Expressions on Etsy