Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earwire Ecstasy!

An experienced jewelry artist recently told me that she sells more earrings than any other jewelry item because most women can never have too many earrings!  I am naturally very curious and willing to try new things, so her comment inspired me to try my hand at learning to make my own earwires and other earring designs with glass beads, gemstones and polymer clay.  Some of the designs were inspired by the book 101 Wire Earrings by Denise Peck.  Denise gives very good and easy to follow instructions for making french wires, rectangular ear hoops, circular hoops, and other enticing designs.  I bought the book because I could tell by looking through it that the designs were varied and the instructions were easy to follow and I believed that I could use a lot of the designs as a jumping off point to make designs that were uniquely mine. 

As you can see, once I overcame my inertia about learning new techniques--I had the wire, I had the book, I was afraid to cut the wire!--I jumped in with both feet!  Denise has made sure that her readers can have success with the techniques she teaches.  I was happy right away with the results I was getting and the more I experimented, the more fun I had.  The square earrings are her design--she used smaller beads.  The hoops are her design but again she used smaller beads.  The rotating hoops are my design and so are the quilt squares and the looped pearls.  The dancing moons are Denise's design but I changed it from having the two wires loop around each other to having them splayed out to perform a balancing act because this solved an artistic design problem that I had been thinking about for several months and now it is solved. 

The whirling rotating hoops are the answer to another design which I have been contemplating logistics wise for quite awhile.  I thought it would be possible to do rotating rings but wasn't quite sure how to make it happen.  I had learned how to make fairly even shaped polymer clay snakes from Nan Roche's chain maille tutorial and thought it might be possible to make hoops from them as long as they weren't too thin or delicate.  Interestingly enough, these hoops came out slightly flexible, which I didn't expect since I didn't add any translucent clay to the mix this time.  Once the first hoop was made (I rolled it on a soda can to get the size right), it was easy enough to make the inner concentric hoops, allowing some space in between each one.  I baked the hoops on the jump rings on parchment paper for 30 minutes.  The flexibility helped and I believe will add to the stability of the piece.  The looped pearls are made with more of the same clay but this time, I wound the snakes around a jump ring mandrel, ending with a loop at the top.  When they were baked, I separated the rings of the spirals and then the idea of stringing the pearls on wire and looping the clay around the pearls just presented itself to me so I strung the pearls on some sterling wire and very carefully wound the cured clay around the pearls.  Next it occurred to me that this would look even better as a hoop so I slowly brought the ends together and connected the two wire loops at the two ends to a french wire.  What a nice surprise!  Of course, the patchwork dangle earrings were my idea matched with the canes I made after my first go at Sandra McCaw's tutorial, mixed with a little chain maille in purple and turquoise to match the clay colors.

Now I need to make some more beads so that the journey may continue!  This wire work is so much fun and so compatible with the polymer clay, who knows where it will lead?  I am sure that it will be somewhere fun and fabulous!

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