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Simply Swirled Earrings- a new wirework tutorial!

Got some new pretties to make! And this time, we're going to make the earring findings for them, too.

You might remember that the last time we hammered out some earrings, we were left with an extra pair of these:

Today, we're going to use them. To review how they came into being, go here. To make the whole kit and caboodle, you're going to need: Wire: 4- 3" pieces 18 gauge silver or silver-colored wire, for both hoops and swirls 2- 2 1/4" pieces 18 or 20 gauge silver or silver-colored wire, for earring findings 28 gauge copper wire, as needed (use directly off the spool)- approximately 12 inches or less

And these tools: Nylon jawed pliers (for straightening wire, and adjusting your design without marring) Chain nosed pliers Round nose pliers Bent nosed pliers (optional, but mighty useful for tucking in fine wire ends) Flush cutters or wire cutters Fat highlighter marker or wide marker Bench block or anvil Chasing or other smooth-faced hammer Needle files or a cup burr, to finish the ends of your earwires First, you'll need to whip up some hoops. To make the hoop frames, see the instructions here. For these

earrings, you can hammer the hoops either with a ball peen hammer, for a dappled effect, or go with the smoother approach. I took the smoother road this time, but it's up to you! Next, we're going to make the swirls. Take one of your remaining 3" pieces of 18 gauge wire, and start a swirl-

Grab the very end with your chain-nose pliers, and crook it over HARD. Make a nice, tight little curl to start with, and then grab it with the side of your pliers, and start the scroll...

Shift your wire in your pliers frequently- this will give you a nice, even scroll. You're basically just rolling it up!

When you have about 1 3/4" of straight wire left, it's time to switch sides...

Start another scroll, opposing the first, but more roll it more loosely. One scroll should be about 3/8" across, and the other should be about 1/4". The entire swirly piece should be around 3/4", total length.

Make a second scroll to match the first, and hammer them both lightly. Check your layout on your hoops, and adjust the swirls as needed to fit. Try out different angles, too!

Bind your hoops closed with the copper wire, tucking in any snaggy ends, first with the nylon-jawed pliers, and then with the bent-nose pliers.

Next, start attaching one of your swirls:

Hold your swirl *just* overlapping the hoop, to the side of the hoop that you've chosen for the front of your piece- this ensures a tighter "grip" and stability for the hoop overall, and adds depth and dimension to the dangle.

Tidy up your wire ends, tuck them down, and check the layout for your second dangle. Wire it up, too. Et viola! We have dangles! You're more than halfway there!

One of the beautiful things about working with hoops is that you can move things, even once they're wrapped on and attached. Check your alignments, and adjust as necessary. Scoot stuff around, if needed. How're they looking?

Yep. That'll do.

Now let's make some of those fancy ear wires! Grab your round-nose pliers, the highlighter or marker, and those last two pieces of silver wire... Start by making a simple loop on one end of one of the 2 1/4" pieces of wire:

No need to center it- just roll it up! Next, shape it around the barrel of your marker, much as you did with the hoops.

If you wonk it up (like I did!), adjust the looped end, so that it's straight, and then grab your hammer. Gently hammer the entire piece, to harden it. If you like, hammer some parts to widen the wire, but avoid doing so at any spot that will be going through an ear piercing- thinly hammered wire can give you a bit of a cut, and no one likes an irritated ear!

Adjust the wires, if they get out of round, and tighten up the hanging loop (because inevitably, the hammering action will open it up a bit!) Wrap some pretty copper around the shaft of the earwire, near the loop. As before, tuck the ends close to the main wire, so they won't snag anything.

Using your needle files or cup burr, finish the business ends of the earwires by rounding them downdouble check 'em, too, because a sharp point or raw cut end can hurt like the dickens! And you have this:

The final step is to attach your earwires to your dangles. There's no picture for this, but hey, it's pretty easy- you can either attach them using a jump ring, or gently open the loops on your earwires, and hook 'em up that way- it all depends on how you want them to hang. And you. Are. DONE!

Pretty cool, eh? The earrings from this tutorial will be available as a one-time offering on our Indigogo fundraising site, Uniting a Family. We're trying to raise funds so that The Big Guy can meet his birth family- read more about how we found them here and here! Now, you may have noticed that my fingers looked kinda, well, grungy throughout this tutorial. They weren't actually dirty. No, really. Trust me, I'm a former cook- I wash my hands almost more frequently than I breathe! (Ask the Big Guy- I go around gasping all the time. It's awful! No, just kidding. I remember to breathe. Mostly.) But anyway- they look kinda stained, yes? How they got that way is really, really cool. You won't want to miss it- there's another tutorial, coming your way soon! And it's...transformational. (Yes, I did say that in my "mysterious" voice!) ~ Linking up to Craft-O-Maniac Monday and Make It Wear It Thursday at the Train to Crazy!

New wirework tutorial: Hammered & Bound Two-Tone Dangles
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a busy gal this weekend...

These diminutive pretties are part of the reason why! Wanna make some? This is a way-less-than-an-afternoon project, but the results...well, they speak for themselves! Plus, we're gonna play with hammers!

For each one, you will need: Silver or silver-colored wire in these sizes: 1- 3" piece 18 gauge 1- 2 1/2" piece 20 gauge 1- 1 3/4" piece 20 gauge And some: 28 gauge copper or gold-colored wire (use directly off of spool)- probably around 12" And these tools: Nylon-jaw pliers (to straighten and adjust wire) At least one pair chain-nose or flat-nose pliers Round-nose pliers Bent-nose or smooth-jawed needle-nose pliers Wire cutters / flush cutters Small ball-peen hammer Anvil or bench block A fat highlighter or marker, to use as a mandrel

Cut your pieces of wire, and create two loops on the ends of your 3" 18 gauge piece:

Bend the ends of the wire at a 90 degree (or slightly more!) angle, about 1/4" from the ends. This is how you'll start your perfect little loops...

Gripping the wire at the very end, roll the wire towards the center, changing position of your round-nose pliers frequently. Center your loop on the wire's axis- perfect!

This next step is optional, but I like to do this to help with the durability of the piece...when you "work" your wire, it gains tensile strength, and is less likely to bend out of shape. Gently hammer your loops with the flat face of your hammer.

And now we've messed up those perfect loops you just made. (Only a little bit, sheesh!) Tweak your loops with the round-nosed pliers, and make 'em pretty again.

Now we're going to shape your hoop from your double-eye pin. This is where the marker comes into play:

Start shaping the hoop around the pen.

Gently ease the looped ends up and out, just a bit- this will help with the next steps, aligning and binding them.

Using your nylon-jawed pliers, pull the looped ends together, like hands folded in prayer. Then CRUSH 'EM DOWN. (Well, this is about getting hammered and bound...*giggle*)

Now, you have a couple of choices. You're going to want to hammer your hoops, to give them strength- and you've got a ball-peen hammer to work with. This means that you can opt for a smooth look, using the flat face of your hammer, as shown at the top of the photo. Or, you can use the other end, and make a sparklier, rougher finish, as shown on the bottom. Both look good in their own right. I chose the rougher texture- I used a nontarnish sterling-plated wire, and wanted it to glitter- those tiny facets really catch the light. If I was making a tarnished-and-buffed piece, though, the flat-hammered hoops would look just as great. Either way, gently and evenly hammer your hoops, widening the lower portion of them as you work.

Now, start tying 'em up. Grab that spool of 28 gauge copper, and start wrapping one side of the hoop:

When your coiling reaches the length that you'd like, wind the wire a couple of times around the "neck" of the piece (where the two loops are) to bind it, and continue wrapping onto the other side. You'll now have this:

Check for the evenness of your wraps, snip your wire ends, and tuck them down tight, first with your nylonjawed pliers, and finally with your bent-nosed or needle-nosed pliers (so they won't snag on hair or clothing).....

But, oh no! The hoops have deformed! They're *GASP* wonky!

This is where that pen will come in handy again. Take the cap off of your highlighter, and pop the hoop onto it.

Slide the hoop UP the cap- you'll find that it's just a tiny bit wider than the barrel of the pen. Straighten the hoop, while rounding out the center- problem solved!

De-Wonked Hoops! Now the decorative fun begins! Take your 2 1/2" piece of 20 gauge wire, and make a little bend in the center.

Pull the ends inward, and cross 'em, creating a little teardrop-shaped loop in the center.

Using your chain-nose or needle-nose pliers, start a small, tight bend in one wire end, curling towards the teardrop:

Swap over to your round-nosers, and start a spiral on the end.

Now, swap over to your chain-nosed again, holding the curly bit flat in the jaws, and continue the spiral, gently rolling with your wrist.

Do this on both sides, until you have this:

Hammer your piece. It will turn the one pictured at the top, into the one at the bottom. Be careful not to nail the cross-over part too many times, but do bop it enough to flatten the piece out a bit! Now comes the fun part- lay your hoop and decorative piece together, to get a rough idea of how you want them to meld. This is also a good time to straighten and adjust them to the size that you want them to be- that central teardrop shape will still have some flex to it, so resizing the piece is pretty easy.

(I started out thinking that these would be hung upside down, with a dangle, but changed my mind!)

Once you've decided on your positioning, bind one edge of the swirly to the side of your hoop, and make sure that it overlaps the hoop just a tiny bit- this will be the front side of the dangle.

Repeat on the other side of the hoop, taking care to overlap your front piece on the same side of the hoop.

Again, trim your wire ends and tuck 'em down. Hmmm...Nice, but they need something.

So grab your last piece of 20 gauge wire- note that the shorter length will make it a little harder to work with. Bend it in the center, as before, but use your round-nose pliers.

Much easier! Now, repeat what you just did with the longer piece, but this time, you'll probably only need the round-nosed pliers to do it. Hammer, as before, then straighten and adjust. And just as you did before, wire your little goody to the hoop, tuck in the ends, adjust the heights of your decorations, and.... You're DONE!

The finished hoops are around 1 1/8" to 1 1/4" in height- perfect for earrings or a pendant- maybe both! Mother's Day is coming. (Yeah, I just said that like Ned Stark.) I toyed with adding some peacock pearls...

But the Big Guy talked me out of it. (He was right, by the way. Don't tell him that I said so, though!)

Hope that you enjoyed this tute. As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or feel free to email me- I'll reply promptly! And share any variations that you come up with- I'd be happy to feature them, here on the blog! Coming soon- what did I do to the flat hoops? And what do I plan to do with these? You'll see! There is much, much more to come. Until next timeBe good to yourselves.