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Wire Swirl and Pearl Earrings Tutorial

Cheryl St Pierre's lovely wire swirl and pearl earrings tutorial caught my eye.  At first glance, I wondered how she managed to get the pearls into what is a 20 G wire design! As you know, the holes in pearls are tiny!  A closer look revealed a clever integration of fine wire to hold the pearls in place!

I like how she worked both earrings together to ensure a mirror image and even designs.

One suggestion for beginners - try holding the wrap wire close to the work. This reduces unwanted wire kinks. This instructor is experienced in wire work so she is able to hold the wrap wire further away.

Cheryl doesn't show how to patina the copper wire .  If you wish to do so, I suspect dunking the earrings quickly into Gun Blue (see link below) will work. I've tried doing this successfully to other porous gemstones like turquoise but I have not actually tested it on pearls. (Makes note to self for a future post!)

Gun Blue is a lot easier and less smelly to use than liver of sulfur. The copper will turn dark in just a few seconds. Rinse well and then use #0000 steel wool to shine up the copper leaving the recesses darker.

Before You Go:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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  1. I have heard, although I have not tried this, that if you make a hard boiled egg and cut it into quarters immediately (while still warm) and put it in a small enclosed container with whatever you want to antique, that it will have the same effect as liver of sulfur but with no need to dip anything or dispose of chemicals later. I would think that would be gentle on the pearls as well.

    1. Thanks for reminding me that I have tested out the egg method but not on pearls. Worth checking sometime to see if the hydrogen sulfide gas emitted by the eggs will pearls. On balance, I favor a quick dunk to turn the metal (which is then rinsed) to a slow exposure to the gas.

  2. A no immersion patina process such as Sneaky Burrito suggests is A good idea. could patina your wire first and wear gloves if you worry about getting it on yourself or taking it off.

    This is such a lovely design. It might have more women wearing pearls for no particular reason instead of just for church or weddings.

    1. I like your idea about the patina and the tip to wear gloves!

  3. Dunking pearls in patina (atleast los) is not a good idea as it turns the pearl yellowish. But patina (diluted as required) can be applied using a thin brush only on the wire while you hold the piece at the pearl - use gloves if required. This will give a controlled finish but the colour will not be uniform as dunking the whole piece in patina.

    1. The change is extremely quick with gun blue which is why I suggested a quick dunk and then a rinse. A few seconds is not likely to affect the pearls but I can't be absolutely sure without the experiment. Your suggestion of painting on the patina solution is a good one. I think the non-controlled finish will only add to the piece.

  4. I just tried another of Cheryl's swirl tutes this morning! Swirls only look easy but they are treacherous :) Her guidance through the whole process is very helpful!


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