Jul 4, 2008

Finding Findings

I started making jewelry because I was drawn to the beads. It's hard not to be enamored with vintage glass. As I progressed, I began to pay more attention to the findings I used as well as the types of metal they were made from. I'm sure this is quite typical of many jewelry makers. I loved some of the handmade ear wires I found from e2SSupplies on Etsy. I liked their simplicity and the fact that they were not mass produced and widely used. For instance, I really dislike the coils that are on so many ear wires. I know that they must have some sort of purpose, but I don't like the way they look. I then, ran across a few how to articles on making ear wires and head pins. It seemed easy enough. One thing about me, is that when I see something I think I can make myself, I am determined to do it. So, I got a few tools that I needed, and some wire. I took a little bit from all of the articles I found and came up with a few of my own ways of making ear wires. I've only just made a few, so far, but am quite happy with the results. I love that I can have just the right ear wire to go with a particular design, rather than settling on what I have on hand from my purchased supplies. I can make the size and shape I need when I need it. Also, I love that this will save me some money. Below are my first attempts at different ear wires. I did mostly sterling silver, since it is what I use most. But, not before practicing on some brass and copper wire to get the hang of it.

Of course I am still learning and need to perfect my skills, but here are a few things I learned so far.

• practice on less expensive wire before using sterling silver. this is probably pretty obvious, but definitely a money saver.

• use the right gauge wire. I used 20 gauge half hard. Some people like to use 21 gauge also. The important thing is that the wire isn't to large to fit in your ear holes, and also that the wire is sturdy enough to hold up to bending and working with it.

• a wig jig is not necessary for shaping ear wires. I almost bought one until I came across an article that suggested using a sharpie. I ended up using my size 19 knitting needle, which worked out great. I would like to use something a bit larger, eventually, as an alternative. A knitting needle or sharpie is a lot less expensive than wig jigs are and just as effective.

• although it isn't essential, hammering the finished ear wire makes them much stronger and also gives them a more finished look. You'll need an anvil or bench block and hammer for this. I found both on eBay for less than $25.00. My hammer is metal. Plastic hammers are available also, but the results will not be as strong as with a metal hammer. You can find many varieties of anvils, bench blocks, and hammers here quite reasonably.

• using a cup burr is the easiest way to file the ends of the ear wires. I am using a basic file for now, which apparently takes more time. My next tool purchase is a cup burr. Filing the ends is important for comfort.

There are plenty of how to articles online to get you started on making your own ear wires and findings. I just purchased a torch which I plan to use for making my own ball headpins. This looks even easier than making ear wires. I just need to get over the fact that I am scared I could burn my house down if I don't learn to properly use a torch. I want to have a mask and goggles before I take this challenge on. Safety first, right? I'll post my results of that project next.

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