Saturday, August 27, 2016

DIY wire-wrapped pendant earrings

Since I cut my hair short, I've been making a push to acquire earrings that dangle beyond the edge of my hair, so that they can actually be seen! That process has forced me to learn a new art: making pendant earrings. What is a pendant earring? Well, to be honest, I just decided on that term, but in my book, it is a dangle earring in which the point of interest is a gem or charm that is hung from the ear by a wire or chain.

The very first pendant earrings I ever made were these asymmetrical wire-wrapped crystal earrings. Here's the story of how I made them!

The story begins last September, when I returned from a trip to the West with a crack-your-own geode in my bag. It took months before I was ready to break it, because I promised a travel buddy that I wouldn't break it open without him present. When the geode finally cracked (it was quite an effort, and I probably should have scored it first to create a more even break), it was a spectacular sight, and I was loath to throw away even the smallest pieces of beautiful sparkly quartz. 
The three largest pieces took up a place of honor on my crystal windowsill (it has been in 4 different houses now, but I always have one window in which I display my crystals), while the smaller ones took up residence with my jewelry-making supplies, while I pondered what to do with them.

Since none of the pieces were similar in size, I decided I'd have to play up their asymmetry, so I made a plan to use three of them: one big one for one ear, and two smaller ones for the other ear. And I decided the only suitable way to prepare them for making into jewelry was to wire-wrap them.

I adore wire-wrapped crystals, but my last effort at making one didn't turn out that beautiful (I ultimately un-wrapped it, and it remains in my jewelry supplies to this day!). This time, I had to do better, so I consulted a few tutorials before beginning my journey.

Of course I can't find most of the ones that I originally looked at, but here is one of them, and a tutorial I just found today which looks pretty helpful:
Though in the end, I pretty much winged it, I did learn a couple of valuable things from the tutorials. You know when you see those wire-wrapped crystals in the store, and they frequently have randomly-placed zigzags in some of the wires? I always thought that was just for visual effect (and kind of a cool one), but it turns out they actually serve a purpose—they serve to tighten the wire around the stone! 

The other thing I learned was that it can help to start with the bail (the loop that jewel actually hangs from) before beginning to wrap the wire.

Armed with my new knowledge of functional zigzags and where to start, I had another go at wire-wrapping my crystals. I wasn't intending to blog this process, so I took no photos (sometimes when you're learning a new skill, you don't want to be bothered with taking pictures, too!). Sorry!

To get the crystals to actually dangle, I had specifically chosen gold wire because I was going to suspend the pendants from chains, and I only had gold chain. I cut three differing lengths of gold chain (with my handy-dandy wire cutters) and meticulously threaded them onto earring hooks.

When all was said and done, I had some flashy yet earthy jewelry that nicely complements some of my more bohemian attire.
Sadly, the "gold" chain blackened after just one wear—that's what you get for using free chain that you cannibalized from a free promotional product!

I didn't intend for the two stones on the one earring to end up at the same length, but somehow they did (one of them also broke). So later on I might revise this piece with better chain and more asymmetry.

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