Dec 16, 2011

Making Simple Sparkly Earrings (Not So Simple)

As I re-open my jewelry studio, I have to constantly check in with myself and make sure I'm creating things I feel excited about.  When I let those nagging questions (Is this hip?  Is it so five years ago?  Will anyone buy it?) pervert my vision, I end up with a bunch of jewelry stock that I would rather not look at, much less put my name on.  It’s not bad stuff, it’s just not really me.  I’m going to try in earnest to stay true to my own taste this time around, and have faith that it’ll all work out some how.  As in, I’ll at least make my money back. 

For my first project, I wanted to make some simple sparklies to wear on New Year’s.  To see exactly how I did it, follow the Read More link below...

I've got a bunch of these lame silver heart charms I'm not going to use for anything.  

So I'll melt each one down.

The heart charm is now a red hot bead of silver.

I made a bunch of 'em.  Sterling silver has copper in it, and you can see it on the surface of some of these.  

I hammered 'em all flat.  

I filed any rough edges off the discs.

In preparation for melting solder on each one, I sanded the oxidation off.

I cut teensy pieces of extra soft solder (which just means that it melts at a lower temp than, say, "hard" solder).

A teeny chip of solder on a silver disc.

The solder after "flowing".  That's what jewelers say.

This is an earring post that I want to solder to each disc.  It will melt before the solder flows unless I embed it in my soldering block.  That will protect most of it from the heat of my torch.  

Now just the part I want to solder the disc to is exposed.  Sorry I forgot to take a photo of soldering the disc to the earring post.  What I did was to position the disc (with solder already melted it) on top of this post and then hit the combo with my torch.  I could tell when the solder had flowed because the disc moved just a fraction of a millimeter.  

Then I drilled a hole in the post part of the earring.  I made ten of these in one day and then set them aside.  Next, I will set my stones.  

This is a 10 mm cubic zirconia embedded in a fancy piece of soap.  

I've pushed the stone into the soap such that the crown (the widest part of the stone) is still exposed.  You'll see why.  

"Precious Metal Clay", a brilliant product from Japan.  I got really into it a few years ago but have all but abandoned it except for this one particular use:  setting stones.  

I used the syringe and to run two lines of PMC around the stone - one line below the crown and one line above the crown.  

I used a paintbrush and distilled water to smooth out the end of the PMC.  

This is PMC mixed with enough distilled water to make it into a paste.  I dipped a silver jump ring in it.  

And then pushed the jump ring in between the two lines of syringe PMC.  

PMC is very much like porcelain clay.  I'm drying it out so I can work it with my carving tools.

I (very carefully) used a file and a carving tool to sculpt the PMC.  Looks cool now!

Just like pottery clay, PMC gets fired in a kiln.  So kewl.

The stone and setting out of the kiln.  You can't put most gemstones in a kiln - it will destroy them.  Cubic Zirconia in most colors can stand up to this kind of abuse.  Thank goodness they're cheap!

I hit the setting with a brass brush to bring out the shine.  
Now we're getting somewhere.

I attached the posts I made earlier with a beefy jump ring.

Almost done.
I like things oxidized and rustic looking, so I put the pieces into a solution of sulphur.  

That's better, but it's dull and needs some shine.

I rubbed 'em with polishing cloth.

I'm sure no one will notice the detail, but it means a lot to me.  
Two full days in studio, and I've got five pairs of these earrings.  Wanna buy a pair?  Check out my brand new Etsy shop:


  1. Hi love your detailed description and photos- really shows how much hard work and love goes in to each piece! Can I ask what type of jump ring you used in the metal clay? Does it have to be a certain type of silver to work with the clay? Thanks for sharing!

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