How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

Ear piercing has been around since ancient times, as many of the mummies of Egypt, Europe, and the Americas can attest. Even 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman, found poking out of a glacier in the Austrian Alps, had pierced ears. One of the first designs used with pierced ears was the hoop earring, first as bent metal wire and then as beaten metal. Hoops were found in the graves of Persepolis in Iran, dating to about 2500 BCE, as well as in graves of the ancient cultures of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Africa, India, and Europe. One reason for the ancient ubiquity of hoop earrings is the ease of making them. Once you roll wire into a circle, you're most of the way there. This project goes a step further than a simple circle, and with that step you'll learn the skill of beating metal, which is applicable to many other metalworking projects.

TOOLS:

• Wire cutter

• Coarse sandpaper

• Rolling mill or file

• Round form (mandrel or appropriately sized dowel)

• Wooden or rawhide mallet

• Planishing or ball-peen hammer

• Needle-nose pliers

MATERIALS:

• At least a 14" length of 12-gauge metal wire (copper, silver, and brass are common metals that have the advantage of being soft enough to work)

1 The length of the wire depends on what size you'd like the earrings to be—longer wire means bigger earrings. Consider buying extra wire so you can wrap a test earring and evaluate the size in the mirror. Once you have a test earring that looks about the right size, unroll it and use it as a measuring template when cutting the wire. Leave an extra ½" to be bent for the earring closures. Hoop earrings range from tiny to huge, but a 7" length of wire each is a good starting point. Cut the desired length with wire cutters and use emery cloth or coarse sandpaper to sand the cut ends until smooth.

2 Use a file to taper one end of each earring, 1½" per end. This tapered wire will be bent into clasps and one of these sides will pass through your ear, so file the end until you are comfortable with the result. Sand until smooth.

How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

3 Hoop earrings are round, as their name implies, though they can be shaped like teardrops. To make a teardrop shape, simply bend the two ends together and the wire should naturally form a loop with a wide arc on the bottom coming to a point at the top. A hoop takes a little more work. Wrap the earring wire around a mandrel or a round form like a dowel, overlapping the ends by about ¼" for the clasps. Use the mallet to hammer the wire around the form until the wire holds its round shape.

How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

4 There are many styles of hoop earrings, but for this project, you'll beat the lower arc to make it flat vertically. Lay a bent earring flat on a pounding surface, preferably a metal plate or at least a flat, hardwood work surface. Use a wooden ball-peen hammer to work the earring. (If the hammer has a ridged face, consider filing and sanding the hammer until the face is smooth so that it doesn't mar the surface of the earrings.) Start with gentle taps and focus on slightly flattening the lowest point in the center of the metal wire, not the edges. Remember: You can always hit harder, but it's difficult to undent your work. Flip the earring frequently. Some metal jewelry intentionally has a pockmarked, beaten look, but for this project it's worth learning how to smooth the metal, using many smaller strokes rather than a few more forceful ones. Work up the sides from the lower arc, flattening less and less as you go so that the upper widths of the earrings narrow toward the tapered ends.

How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

5 Use needle-nose pliers to form the clasp. Bend about ¼" of wire out at a right angle from one end. Grab the end and bend it back on itself to form a tiny circle. Then bend a short length (about ¼") of the other end to about 45 degrees. The bent wire hooks inside the circle to form the clasp. The earring should be wide enough that the clasp is held together by the spring of the metal. If it's not, you can slightly adjust the earring size.

How to Make Earrings at Home Step by Step

The hoop is one of the classic earring shapes—pirates wore them as a superstition, believing that the precious metals carried magical powers.

PICKING WIRE GAUGE

Simple wire earrings in which the wire passes completely through the ear are usually 21-gauge or thinner. For this project, you'll taper the ends and beat the middle, and so a thicker gauge—which means a smaller number—works better. Approximately 12-gauge wire is ideal, though you could choose to make a thicker earring from 10-gauge wire or a slightly thinner earring from 14-gauge wire.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE