Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Posts Tagged ‘earwires’

Moving Further Along (Month of Earrings #16-17-18)

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/27

This Month of Earrings challenge (I’m well into the second half now!!!) has confirmed something I really knew already: I am drawn to movement.

As I was making the earrings with the orange jasper beads and citrus pattern that I mentioned in my last post, I got to thinking about giving a pair some more movement by hanging a another set (with smaller domes) this way:

Spinner Disk Earrings #7

And I’ll admit something: I had already domed those silver disks so that the texture was on the concave side (as shown in a number of my earlier entries). To get them to work for this pair, I had to put them in my dapping block and get them turned the other way. Whew: It worked!

There are several kinds of movement in both of these as well:

Movement Earrings #5 Movement Earrings #6

The four disks with a curve down the middle are leftovers from something else I tried last summer. (Those were OK, but I wasn’t that crazy about them, so I didn’t continue with that idea. I’d already made these four, however, so I just set them aside, knowing I’d find a use for them eventually.) What I did now was to make four more disks, flat ones, and attach them to the back.

Once everything was fired and polished, I decided to apply a patina to one pair, while leaving the other as “naked” shiny silver. Then I balled up the ends of some pieces of Argentium silver wire, and started adding beads. There’s a little bit of color from the Swarovski crystals at each end. To keep those from hitting the silver, next there are little glass beads of a similar color. And to keep all of that lined up nicely and allow the silver beads in the center to spin on the wires, there’s a column of tiny (11/0) glass seed beads down the middle of each tube. It’s a shame they end up hidden, but they serve a good purpose in there.

Then, the Argentium wires are finished with a wrapped loop, and hung on (purchased) sterling silver earwires. For what it’s worth, the tiny coils on the wires can spin as well, if you really want to fiddle with something that small.

(While I’m at this challenge, I’m also making a lot of the earwires I’m using. But I don’t feel compelled to do that for every piece. I’ll make ones where I want some custom design, but I do not feel compelled to make ones that look like ones I could easily buy. I got into all this because I wanted to make things I couldn’t readily find on the market; when I can find an appropriate component to use, I see that as saving me time that I can then spend on special ones.)

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Spinning Right Along (Month of Earrings 13-14-15)

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/24

Continuing on the spinner-earring theme for the moment, I still like that little flat-wire spiral on the first set I made. Let me try to turn the earwire around. (Another great customer suggested that, and I was happy to be able to pull these out!. I’m using balled-up wire-ends, not the latchback design of the Art Jewelry magazine project that inspired these particular experiments, so if I put the ball in front, that can help to hold the spiral in place.

This pair has three layers of handmade spinners (two fine silver disks plus that flattened spiral of Argentium silver wire), threaded onto handmade 20 gauge Argentium silver earwires with a small ball on the front end:

Spinner Disk Earrings #4

For this next pair, given the design on the disks (especially the smaller ones) I didn’t think they needed a spiral in front. So these just have two fine silver disks threaded onto similar earwires.

Spinner Disk Earrings #5

Since I do seem able to get the wires bent at angles that let the weight of the discs direct them into a reasonable position, let me take that another step with these, where the focus is on lovely round orange jasper beads nestled into domed disks with a citrus-like texture:

Spinner Disk Earrings #6

Ooh, these seem to get yummier with each iteration. (Sorry: it’s the end of the blood orange season for this year—one of my favorite fruits—and I guess I’m thinking about when I should eat the last two of those I managed to buy.)

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Another experiment in design (Month of Earrings 10-11-12)

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/21

On the plus side, regarding my earring experiments with a spinner / movement design, I am finding that I can bend and twist the wire in such a way that the pieces do seem to hang in a nice position. But what else can I do to improve the construction process, to reduce the risk to the beads while still getting the practical effect I want from them?

For one thing, I can return to using silver disks with a bit of a hollow-dome shape, into which the beads can safely nestle. And I can try using smooth glass beads, such as these with a lovely rose-colored lining:

Movement Earrings #4

The look seems nice, but those particular beads have a rather large hole. Even though I hammered the wires flat, which widened them a bit, the beads do still want to ride up, and off the earwire, when you put the piece down for storage. Now, I usually sell my earrings with a small rubber or plastic “ear nut” that some people like because they feel it reduces the risk of losing an earring. Carefully replacing that will, of course, help to hold the rose-colored bead in place when not being worn. But I prefer construction methods that don’t rely on such trickery later on.

So the next experiment topped a glass bead with a tiny bugle bead, and then a small seed bead. (Those have been in my stash since I lived in Minnesota, where the temptations of Bobby Bead were oh so near my office in Minneapolis.)

Spinner Disk Earrings #2

That approach appears to have a future although, in subsequent designs, I can plan ahead and make silver pieces that are a better fit with it. For an experiment though (using disks made at random during the February clay play day with my local metal clay guild), I’m happy with those.

Digging through the stash, looking for the Japanese bugle beads for that, I came across a handful of small silver-lined glass beads. (Clearly, I’ve been interested in silver since long before I ever started working with silver clays…) They are smaller than the rose-colored ones, above, with smaller holes. They serve their purpose of helping to hold the various bits together while almost disappearing into the design.

Spinner Disk Earrings #3

So, I’m still learning as I go, but seem to be moving in a reasonable direction. Or, at least I hope I am…

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Crystal bicone beads: both pretty and practical (Month of Earrings #7-8-9)

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/18

The domed earrings I entered as my first items for the Month of Earrings challenge are a variation on a project described in Art Jewelry magazine last summer.

In that article, both disks were cut out of a sheet of sterling silver, then hammered, filed, and assembled with a small bead onto hand-shaped sterling silver earwires. Since I’m one of those people who rarely follows a recipe exactly, not even the first time any more, the first ones I made based on that article used one disk of fine silver and one of copper (no sterling for either). I chose to dome both of those, and then used a little flattened spiral of sterling in place of the bead. I did follow the instructions for how to make the earwires … almost! I made a small modification to the back, however, to help hold all the pieces upright at the ear. Problem is, while these pieces do hold together wonderfully while being worn, the components want to slide around on the wire when you take them off and put them into your jewelry box between wearings.

Having made those, it’s (now) clearer to me why the instructions were written the way they were, and which variations affect which aspects of both look and practicality. Ah, let’s hear it for variations! I can use the Month of Earrings challenge to explore some more of those, and see which ones do and do not work reasonably well, which ones may be even more of an improvement on the original!

For now, two tweaks:

  • The bead in front, and the wire that bends around it, help to hold the disks in place when you store the earrings. Though I like the look of my little flat wire spiral, that didn’t have quite enough bulk to serve the same purpose. Let me try some little Swarovski crystal beads instead.
  • The latchback earwires offer one kind of look, and the weight of wire towards the back helps to nudge the earrings into a nice hanging position. Can I get a good position if I turn the earwires into a slightly simpler “french” style? (I consider this in part because several regular customers who saw the first ones asked if I could make some this way instead.)

Here goes…. First, several experiments with crystals. One set in an indigo color (plus, instead of two round disks, one round disk that can spin and one oval one that swings back and forth for a bit of sassy movement):

Movement Earrings #1

And another set in a peridot color (plus, one round disk that can spin if you want, and a little square in front that can swing):

Movement Earrings #2

I discovered a small problem there, probably due to my wire-working skills, but it was very easy to chip a bit of the crystal in the process of trying to neatly bend the wire into position. So, for now, one more trial, this time with small silver-lined clear glass beads surrounding each crystal, to offer a smidgeon of protection:

Movement Earrings #3

That did make the assembly a lot easier, but I do slightly prefer the look of the single crystal bead on each piece. What do you think? (Thanks for any comments … hint, hint!)

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