Making earwires has been a mystery to me for years. I have been making earrings for quite some time using the commercial earwires that you find in all the bead stores. Making my own earwires never occurred to me until I became a member of the Creative Bead Chat group on facebook and started seeing all the gorgeous earrings using handmade earwires posted. Making your own earwires can really take your earring designs up a notch!
I’ve admired all the folks that made their own earwires but felt that it just wasn’t something that I could do. Well after asking a lot of questions, which is something that I can definitely do, and a lot of online research, which again is something that I do fairly well, I came to the conclusion that making my own earwires was something that I could do. There have been several great discussions online within the CBC group and I thought I might attempt to pass along some of these great tips, tricks and mysteries to you.
First you need to start with wire, sterling silver, argentium silver and copper are all good choices. Craft wire however is not recommended due to all the allergies that people have and the fact that there might be something in this wire that could irritate. Size of wire to use varies but most people recommended 20 gauge or 22 gauge for smaller ear holes. Once you have your desired wire you need to gather your tools. You will need a pair of round nose pliers, a pair of medium size bail making pliers or double looping pliers or as in my case sometimes I use an ink pen that has a rather large diameter. There are various items that you might have around your house to use to form the loop. You also need something to smooth the portion of the earwire that goes into your ear. A nail file or burr cup tool can be used for this purpose.
There are many great tutorials online for making earwires. Here’s just a few that I have found:
Michelle Buettner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7btLQIlK00;
Easy Fancy Earwires by Rena Klingenberg http://jewelrymakingjournal.com/easy-fancy-earwires-tutorial/
There are tons more available online, just google and plenty will show up.
I’m going to give you my easy earwires for dummies tutorial here.
Tools and Supplies:
- 20 or 22 gauge Wire (copper, sterling silver, Argentium silver
- Liver of Sulfur (optional – only if you want to patina your earwires)
- Sealant such as Clear Guard or Renaissance Wax (this is only needed if you decide to patina your earwires)
- Round Nose Pliers
- Bail making pliers, multistep pliers, or any medium size round object that you can wrap your wire around
- Wire Cutters
- Nail file or burr cup tool
- Chasing Hammer
- Rubber mallet or rawhide mallet (if not using tumbler)
- Bench Block
- Tumbler (optional)
- Cut 2 ½” – 3” of desired wire, flush cut both ends of your wire.
- Form the loop for hanging your earring charm, bobble etc. using your round nose pliers. This loop can be a simple round loop or you can get fancy and do a spiral a backward loop, a wrapped loop. The possibilities here are endless.
- Switch to your looping pliers, ink pen, or other round object. Hold your first loop just above the looping pliers with the loop facing towards you and make a second larger loop (this will be the loop that actually goes into your ear). Use a hammer to flatten the top portion of your loop. Not necessary but it gives a nice look to your earwire.
- File the sharp edge smooth by using a nail file or a burr cup tool. If you are using a nail file just file the edges a few time all sides to make sure that there are no sharp edges. Run your finger over the end to check for any roughness. If you are using the burr cup tool place the end of your wire inside the cup and rotate clockwise a few times and then you can also do a few turns counter clockwise. You could also use 0000 steel wool to smooth the ends after using your burr cup tool.
- Bend the end slightly on the part of the earwire that goes into your ear using a pair of flat nose pliers. This isn’t totally necessary but it gives the earwires a nice look.
At this point you can throw your earwires into a tumbler to harden them or if you are like me and don’t have a tumbler yet, you can use a rubber mallet or rawhide mallet and a bench block to harden your earwire. Just take your rubber mallet or rawhide hammer and whack your earwires several times to harden. Harden the earwires by gently but firmly hammering. Hammering will stiffen up your ear wires so they don’t bend out of shape. Hammer up and down the ear wire, being careful to avoid the little loop end.
There you have it, a simple ear wire. You need to repeat these steps for the second earwire and check to make sure that all loops and edges are equal.
You can stop here at this point, however if you would like your earwires to have a patina or a finish other than the shiny one, you can dunk the finished earwires into a LOS bath and shine them a bit with a polishing pad (or throw them in the tumbler) and then seal them with something like Clearguard or some folks use Renaissance Wax to seal the patina.