Feb 13, 2012

Silver Arrow Earrings

Around this time last year, I sculpted, cast and fabricated a pair of bow and arrow earrings (which you can see here).  They looked super cool, but were a bit heavy and had some mechanical issues such that I decided not to sell them.  These arrow earrings evolved from that design.  I got kinda confused while I was making them, because the natural curve of silver wire that's stored in large loops grew on me as I made the earrings.  I began to think the arrows might be better curved rather than strait - more dynamic, more feminine.  I put the two versions up for a vote on Facebook, and found that my friends' opinions were as split as my own.  I didn't make enough pairs to offer both strait and curved versions in my Etsy shop, so I decided to go with my original, strait-as-an-arrow, design.  They're more severe looking than the curved version, and probably closer to my own style.
Follow the link below to see exactly how I made these earrings.

I started with some commercial charms.

I sawed two of the points off them.

Gotta file that smooth.

After filing.

Lame star charms converted into arrow heads.

I'll use the smooth side of some patterned sheet brass to fabricate the feathered end of the arrow.  I cut some shapes with tin snips.

Then I sawed them.

The brass shapes will have to be filed smooth.

Before filing.


After filing.

I'm going to use this steel whatchamacallit to score the brass "feathers".

I lightly hammered the top of the scoring tool to make the marks in brass.

The brass feathers for one end of the arrows.  

I cut pieces of sterling silver wire for the body of the arrows.

Cutting chips of solder.

All the pieces I'll solder together in liquid flux.

Because of this incredibly mild winter, I was able to solder outside, minimizing my exposure to poisonous gasses.  

A chip of solder on the back of an arrow head.

Melting the solder.

Two chips of solder on the back of the feather.

Melt dat on dare as well.

I drop soldered pieces into an acid solution to minimize oxidation.  Even though I tend to oxidize finished pieces, I don't want oxidation any time before that because it makes it impossible for solder to flow.  I still have to solder these pieces again.  

There's a blob of solder where I want to attach the arrow head and body.  

I had to file it down so the wire that makes up the body can sit closer to the arrow head when I solder.

All the pieces in liquid flux ready for the second round of soldering.  

It feels like a game of Operation to align all these separate pieces with my tweezers.  They aren't attached to each other yet, but have to be perfectly snug before I make the solder flow with my torch.

I added another teensy chip here just to make extra sure these parts will attach.

The feathered end of the arrow before flowing solder.  

I was too stressed to take a photo while torching, but here's the end after the solder flowed.  

Phew.  That type of soldering is stressful.  Actually, working with noxious, potentially explosive, 1200 degree flaming materials is really stressful.  I need to go to yoga class after working in jewelry studio.  

The metal is very soft after soldering.  I need to work harden the arrows if I intend to sell them.

The solution:  I twisted the arrows five times from each end - ten full turns.  You can just barely see the striations that formed if you click this image.  

I gently hammered them strait.  Now the metal bounces back to strait rather than bending when a normal, earring-wearer amount of pressure is applied.  

And then I get to sand...

...and polish the pieces.  

Not done yet.  I cut pieces of sterling wire to wrap the feathered end.

Wrapping the feathered end.  

Brass wire is really hard when you buy it and has to be heated to soften it.

I wrapped the arrow head end with brass wire.

Still not done.  I cut wire to make hoops.

Wire wrapping one end of the earring hoops.

Wire wrapping continued.

Rounding the earring hoop.

Forming the earring hoop.

I hammered all the hoops for texture and to re-harden them.

I sanded the ends.

I polished the hoops.

I oxidized one set of hoops and arrows in sulphur.

I brushed the oxidized pair with a soft brass brush.

Finally ready to assemble some earrings.

Kewl.  To make a reasonable wage, I'd need to sell these for a hundred bucks.  Most jewelry makes do not earn a reasonable wage.  Oh well, we get to work at home and boss ourselves around!  You can see these in my Etsy shop here:  frankie's Etsy shop


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