Monday, March 21, 2016

Make your own earwires on the Now That's a Jig!

By: Cindy Goldrick

Earwires come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here's a quick overview of the most common earwires.

Kidney -- these can be short or long but, as the name says, they are shaped like a kidney bean.
Hook Earwires Silver Plated/Finished Silver  Earwire, gold-plated stainless steel, 47mm kidney. Sold per pkg of 6 pairs.
Shepherd's hook -- I often mix them up with fish hook earrings, and I think the main difference is that they look a little more rustic and don't have embellishments like fish hooks earwires do.
Hook Earwires Gold-Filled Gold
Fish hook -- often they have a hammered flat section and a hollow metal ball embellishment.
Hook Earwires Gold-Filled Gold
French hook -- circular fish hook style.
Earwire, sterling silver, 23mm French hook with 3mm ball and open loop, 21 gauge. Sold per pkg of 2 pairs.
Marquise -- basically a variation of a shepherd's hook that has a shape that resembles a marquise cut diamond shape. I love these earwires for long dangles.
Earwire, Hill Tribes, fine silver, 18mm marquise with open loop, 22 gauge. Sold per pair.
Leverbacks -- have a riveted lever that closes to secure your earring in place.
Earwire, stainless steel, 14mm leverback with open loop. Sold per pkg of 10 pairs.

With the price of silver settling back down (and despite the exchange rate on the US dollar) it's economical and easy to custom make your own earwires to suit your earring design, instead of buying packs of earwires to have on hand. You can also make them out of copper or coloured wires. Just be sure that you don't have any sensitivity to the metal content of the wire. I stick with sterling, argentium and natural copper.

Here's what you need:
Flush cutters
Cup bur
Pliers -- flat nose and round nose
Planishing hammer
Rawhide hammer
Now That's a Jig! and pegs
Wire -- 20 gauge is great, 22 gauge works too

Click here for a pdf from Brenda Schweder that shows you how to set up your Now That's a Jig! to make earwires. If you look around her site you'll also find free templates for other findings, charms and jewellery projects.

How to do it:
Set up the Jig pegs as suggested by Brenda or try different shapes. I tried the teardrop shape as an experiment. 

Wrap wire around the pegs, starting at the bottom left of the small peg, wrapping around it, then around the larger peg. See picture below.

Remove the wire and hammer it with a rawhide mallet lightly. Trim the tail near the loop.

I hammered these with a planishing hammer to work harden them and flatten the round wire at the curve on the front of the earwire. 

Now, take the sharp edge off your wire at the end that goes through the ear piercing by using a cup bur to smooth it down. 

Before you fully wrap and finish the ear wire, you can add beads. I added a vintage glass bead to the copper earring below: this way you can customize your earwire design to coordinate with your earring design.

Pretty and done in a couple of minutes. And much cheaper than pre-made. Have fun and experiment!

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