Want to know how to make these earrings? A few of you did when I posted them as part of my contribution to the Ears To You blog hop on Saturday. The hoops for these earrings are fairly simple to make and are an upside down, no solder variation of the hoops used in Stacie Florer's Ranch Hand Earrings that she taught in a class I took at ArtBliss last September.
Let's get started, OK? You don't need a lot of tools or supplies to make these hoops. I imagine you have most of these in your tool box already.
heavy gauge wire (14 or 16 gauge. I used 14 g copper)
scrap fine gauge wire
jump rings (I used 18 g sterling, 8 mm outside diameter)
Something to form your hoop on (sharpie, glue stick, top of nail polish remover, the world's your oyster here)
flat nose and round nose pliers
Cut two pieces of wire. Mine are 14 gauge copper a wee bit over two inches long. Length depends mostly on how big you want to make your hoops and a little on what you are forming them on.
Use your chasing hammer to make paddles at the end of the wires. Be sure to make your paddles plenty long enough. You'll be punching holes through them later and too short makes that a small nightmare. I like to do one wire and then do the other along side of the finished one so I can get approximately the same size paddle and overall length on the wire.
Mark the centers of the wires with your sharpie. I kinda judge by eye but it's important to be close or your hoops are going to end up a little skew-whiff when you go to close up the ends of the wires.
Center your wire on whatever you are using to form your hoop. Use your fingers to pull the wire around the form. I'm using the top of a nail polish remover bottle. The ends don't meet on the other side. This is just getting a nice curve set up for the bottom of the hoop.
And yes, my nails are often in a disgraceful state. I don't actually used the polish remover on my nails. I use it to remove sticky things like labels.
Use your fingers to squeeze the paddle ends of your wires together. You are going to have a kind of fat U shape when you take it off your former. I just put my fingers on each side about in the middle and gently squeeze the wire into something life a tear drop shape.
Next you need to get out your flat nose pliers. On the paddle ends of the wire bend them out just about 90 degrees. Try to keep your pliers square across the wire and make the bend on both sides the same distance from the end of the paddle. Like everything, there's a little fudge room but life will be easier if you get pretty close to spot on.
Pinch the paddle ends of the hoop together with your flat nose pliers and hold them closed while you wrap it up with fine gauge wire. I don't know what gauge wire I used because it was scrap floating about my drawer. But it's reasonably fine, maybe 24 gauge. Doesn't really matter as long as you can wrap it around the end to hold the paddles tightly together. Then use your hole punch to pierce both paddles at the same time. The paddles should be quite thin enough to get your punch through and doing both paddles together keeps the holes lined up nicely.
I use a plier-type punch that I got from Fusion Beads. You can replace the pin that punches the hole if they break. Really big bonus there, as I've had other punches in the past that once broken the whole tool was wasted.
I like to file the ends of the paddles at this time to get them more refined to the same shape, and get rid of burs and sharp bits.
I insert a jump ring through the holes at this point but that could be done later if you like. I do find it easier to do while the paddles are still wrapped with wire to hold them closed. Also the final shaping tends to make the holes in the paddles get a little misaligned. If the holes aren't quite aligned, or big enough, I stick a round nose file in there and give it a few twists.
Last lap here. Place that hoop on your bench block and start shaping and flattening the bottom of the loop with your chasing hammer. Doing this with the paddle ends wrapped up tends to keep the ends from creeping apart. Add what ever texture you like and you are done with hoop number one. One thing to consider while you are making these is that the hoops going to get gradually larger as you shape the wire. See how small it was before shaping the bottom?
Two hoops ready to punch the holes at the bottom to add whatever bead you'd like.
I really love these and am starting to think of so many ways to use these hoops. Pendant holders? Smaller, larger? It's a lovely form and I'm happy I learned something of it.