Have you ever run out of ear wires or wish you could hand forge your own for the ultimate artisan look? Here are several options to try using common tools you already have. You'll also need to stalk around the house and look for a few more.
1. First find something cylindrical - approximately 1/2 " in diameter. A dry erase marker pen works really well. Now coil 20G wire around the pen. The recess at the cap edge is a good place to start because it helps you secure the wire as you begin to wind it.
2. If you're going to make one, then you might as well make a whole bunch more at the same time. So coil around the form many times. Don't worry if you have more than you need - trust me, you'll use them!
3. Use a flush cutter and cut straight across so that you get large jump rings.
4. Now make a loop at one end - going either direction works so you choose which you prefer.
6. Put a kink at the other end using your broad nose pliers - the width of the pliers will set a consistent distance from ear wire to ear wire. Then gently squeeze the ear wire so the "tail" and the small loop are a little closer to together.
7. You must file smooth the wire end that has to go through the ear hole. You can use 400 grit sandpaper but be careful you don't create a sharp point. I prefer to use the bur cup (below right) because it smooths out the burs the easy way. Insert the wire all the way in and twirl in both directions several times.
8. What if you decide you don't like it so large and round? Easy, just reform it around a smaller mandrel. A marker pen, mascara applicator tube, 1/4" wooden dowel or a knitting needle (American size 13) will do the trick (Step 11 shows you how).
This pretty variation adds an additional loop in the front - this also takes up the excess wire which results when you are making the ear wire smaller. There is no need to trim as in Step 11. First place your round nose pliers just above the inward facing loop and coil upwards.
It looks oddly open (above right) so this is where that reforming comes in. Place the ear wire as you see below and coil around the dowel or whatever you are using.
9. Always hammer your ear wires. Lightly if you just want to work harden the wire. More forcefully over the main curve if you like the flattened look.
10. How about adding a small metal ball? Just slip one down to the loop and place your chain or round nose pliers above the ball and slightly bend the wire. Readjust the small loop so it is more balanced. Also make the main loop less open by gently squeezing it together or make the ear wire smaller (see next step). You must hammer flat the ear wire otherwise the ball is going to fall out the other end!
11. Use 28G wire to make tiny coils. Either wind in on some waste 20G wire and then transfer it or coil directly on the shank of the ear wire which has been pre-bent as with the ball variation. I made this coiled ear wire smaller by reforming it around the wooden dowel. As there is now excess wire, I re-kinked with the broad nose, trimmed and de-burred. Make sure you check and adjust so it is identical to the other ear wire in the pair.
So have a go if you've never done it before. Remember those extra jump rings? You can use them to make your earring dangles too like I did below.
Also check my post on how to use a large bail forming pliers - this wonderful tool can also be used to make ear wires easily.
For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips
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