How To Make Jewelry: Make Handmade Wire Wrapped Spiral Earrings
Make Handcrafted Wire Earrings
Making handmade jewelry is fun, but takes a bit of practice. When first working with wire, it can feel a little odd; it took me a while before I was able to create decent shapes and nice-looking pieces.
One of the most basic shapes that you can make with wire is a simple spiral. Spirals are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are strong and can often be worked into other design. For instance, when making heart earrings, I first make the spiral, then build the heart around it. When making a bracelet, a link of spirals will look stunning. As you see from my photo gallery, there are about a million things that can be done with this shape!
Because this is a beginner project, I'm going to show you how to make a pair of spiral earrings. They're simple, but can be dressed up with beads or crystals -- and you'll be amazed how often people notice them. I think we're just programmed to appreciate circular shapes because it is so prevalent in our universe.
As always, I suggest practicing with inexpensive copper artistic wire. Don't waste money on higher-end wires like silver or gold -- at least not yet. Also, take safety precautions when working and keep the sharp tools away from kids and pets.
Tools Needed For Making Earrings
Wire Wrapped Earring Patterns: Spiral Earrings
For this jewelry making project, you will need:
1. 18-20 gauge copper artistic wire. 18 gauge is slightly tougher than 20 gauge; don't get wire that's softer or tougher because it will be more difficult to work with. Very soft wire is great for wrapping stones, but won't hold together as a design in itself. And tougher wire will be too heavy to wear as an earring.
2. Round nose pliers: You'll need these to create the loop for the spiral.
3. Flat nose pliers: You'll need these to hold the wire firm and to close the loops.
4.Beads or crystals: Choose 2-4 of your choice.
5. Wire cutters: This is pretty obvious; you'll need them to actually snip the lengths of wire.
6. A file: I like to file the wire ends to make them blunt. This way, you won't cut yourself on them.
7. A ruler. This is necessary to keep your earring lengths even -- which is essential when making a matching pair.
8. Optional: earring cards. You can order these online or use already-owned ones. I like to keep my earrings hooked onto the cards because it keeps them from breaking and it's a nice way to display them.
To make the spirals, follow the below steps:
1. Cut about three inches of wire and straighten it. To do so, hold one end of the wire with your flat nose pliers, then gently use your fingers to flatten it. Be gentle; you don't want to scratch the wire.
2. Take your round nose pliers and make a small loop at one end. Don't make it so small that it's difficult to work with; a few mm is usually good.
3. Using your round nose pliers, take the wire and carefully loop it around that first loop. Keep the loops as close as possible so you don't have gaps in your spiral.
4. Now take your flat nose wire and squeeze the loop a bit so that the wire is flattened out. Hold the loop halfway in the flat nose pliers; then take your finger and gently curl the wire around the started loop. It should be very easy to manipulate 18-20 gauge artistic wire. The main trick is to keep the loops even so that your spiral stays flat and maintains its shape. Turn the spiral and the pliers as you create the rings, carefully working around to finish the shape.
5. Loop around creating 4-5 rings in your spiral. If you go beyond that, the spiral begins to get too big and loses its integrity. You want to have a nice, tight spiral that will stay together as an earring. Smaller works better in this case.
6. Once you've created your spiral, use your flat nose pliers to bend the remaining wire at a 90 degree angle over the spiral. Your piece should look like an upside-down lollipop, with the stem and the round portion. String a bead or crystal -- or two, if you so desire -- onto that wire. I like to use blue and copper for these tutorials because the colors are striking and easy to see in photos, but you can use any kind of small bead that you'd like.
7. Use your wire cutters to snip off the excess wire in that stem, leaving about a half inch. Now use your round nose pliers to create a loop with the remaining stem and use your flat nose pliers to close and secure the loop. The bead should be between the loop and the spiral; this loop is going to be the place where you attach your ear wire.
8. Repeat the process, creating a second earring. Make sure that your spirals have the same number of rings and that the top loops are the same length. You want your earrings to be as identical as possible. You'll see in creating the spirals that they tend to face right or left. You'll want your earrings to be mirror images, so turn over one spiral so that they're facing in opposite directions.
To make the ear wires:
1. Cut about four inches of wire. Find the center of the wire using a wire and then bend it in half, using your round nose pliers. If the ends are not even, carefully trim with the wire cutters until they are.
2. Now cut the wire right down the center so that you have two even lengths. Again, use your ruler to find the center of each wire and then use your round nose pliers to bend in half. Make sure the two rounded wires are even because these will be your earring hooks. One end might be slightly curved after cutting; straighten it.
3. On each ear wire, slightly bend one end with the flat nose pliers so that it points outward; this is going to be the portion of the earring that goes through the hole in one ear. You don't want to bend it too much because it'll get stuck, but you do want to bend it slightly to keep the ear wire secure in your ear.
4. On the other end, create a loop with your round nose pliers, but don't yet close it. Make sure that the loops are even on both ear wires; you may need to do some adjusting.
5. Hang one earring on one ear wire and the second on the other. Use your flat nose pliers to close and secure the loops. Test the earrings to make sure that they hang even and in the same direction when worn in your ears.
6. And voila, you have your copper spiral earrings! These make a lovely gift for a relative or friend, or just for you!
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