Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A super easy how to

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
wire cutter
hole punch
chasing hammer
bench block

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.

Happy making!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ears To You

I don't do a lot of blog hops but when Amy at Copper Diem organized this one, I knew I wanted to do it. Had to do it. . Ears to You is a non-profit organisation that gifts earrings to women undergoing chemo as a way of helping to lift their spirits. If  you've been around this blog over the past few months, you probably  know that I finished chemo for breast cancer treatment not too long ago. So this blog hop seemed a natural for me and a way to give back just a little tiny bit of the love that sustained me through the months of treatment.

Amy asked us to make 3-5 pairs of earrings to donate to Ears to You. I started with what I knew best and that's my ceramic beads with some little bronze nuggets and garnets.

A lot of you out there were so kind and one of the things that meant so much to me were the earrings you all sent. All sorts of handmade ones that made me feel very special. Because lets just face it, when you have chemo you are probably going to loose your hair (and your eye brows and lashes). I did. Pretty much overnight I went to completely naked on my head. And a lot of the time that naked head of mine made me feel kind of naked all over.

Earrings were the answer for me. I hadn't actually worn earrings much in the past. But when it came to bald, even with my head covered in scarves, earrings were one of the things that made me feel good. It gave me something to focus on, rather than how strange I looked to myself.

I made this pair thinking how much I loved long dangly earrings. Something that went with the turban look. The turban look can be hard to pull off without looking like a chemo patient. But add some long dangly earrings and you've got an instant 'I am an artist, somewhat bohemian look.' You shout,  'I am not a victim of cancer, I am exotic.' Well even if you don't really look it, you can feel it and that is kinda important :-)

This last pair is a technique I learned from Staci Florer when I was at ArtBliss only I turned the copper hoops up side down. The ones I learned how to make, which I really wanted to do, required soldering. Ones like these. Well the soldering station has been over taken by the not anymore Secret Project which has made a momentous coup of my studio and my time. So in a stroke of something approaching a light bulb going off (dimly), I used sterling jump rings. And now that I think about a little more, I could actually turn these upside down again. A hint here, if you want to do something like this style of ring hoopy thing, wire together the top ends temporarily and then punch the hole. Much easier to get the hole lined up that way and the jump ring in. I know this from experience and one or two cuss words.

By the way, I do have hair again (and eye brows and lashes). It's almost an inch long and so very curly. I look a little like Richard Simmons but not as fit and perky. The earrings, especially long dangly ones, are what I am using to combat the post chemo, your hair is growing in look.

If you want to do something special, donations are always welcome at Ears to You. If you know a woman who's undergoing chemo, earrings are a very special way of saying I am thinking of you.

Just one last thing. My heart and soul, prayers, and thoughts are with all of you who have endured so much and lost so much in Hurricane Sandy. Blessings be with you.

Thanks, Amy, for organizing this blog hop! 

Have a look at what some sweet people have made:

Copper Diem
My Addictions
Beads, Tea and Sweets
Juls Beads
Fabric of my Life
Blogging Business Artisans
Jeannie's Blog
Lorelei's Blog
One Kiss Creations
Backstory Beads
According to Katie
Cherish Designs
Beads: Rolling Downhill
Falling Into The Sky
Garden Path Beads
Antiquity Travelers
Sissy and Jacks
Erin Siegel Jewelry/Art Bead Scene
Northwood Creative Studio
SilverRose Designs
Dreamin of Beads/SAS Jewelry Design
Cabe Woman
Summers Studio
Honey from the Bee
Shaiha's Ramblings
Mama's Got to Doodle
Beads for Busy Gals
Tanya McGuire
Creative Atelier