Sunday, October 12, 2008

How to Make Your Own French Hook Earwire Findings

I make fine silver jewelry. Fine silver is .999% pure silver. Sterling is .925. In the stores, pretty much all you can find is Sterling Silver findings. Since I want the metal content of my jewelry to remain pure as much as possible, I taught myself how to make my own findings including S hook clasps, toggle clasps, bails, jumprings, headpins, and earring wires. Eventually I started making larger quantities and wholesaling them to a local bead store. I also sell fine silver findings via my online bead store when I have enough.

I think making findings is pretty fun so I would like to share one way to make french hook earring wires so you can have fun too. Now some of you might be thinking, "If you want to sell these, why would you tell people how to make them?" Well, I am banking on my theory that creative "do-ers" will always find a way to make something vs. buy it whether I tell 'em or not. And people who find this kind of thing tedious will continue to exercise the convenience of just buying what they need, and hopefully they will buy it from me sometimes. =o)

How to make "Q-end" French Hook Earring Wires

Materials and Supplies
20 Gauge Wire (copper, fine silver, sterling silver-dead soft or half hard)
Flush Cutters
Large & Small Round Nose Pliers (Looping pliers)
2 smooth surface pliers
Cup Bur (for rounding the end of the wire)
Steel Bench Block
Chasing Hammer
Hearing Protection
3/4" Wooden dowel or Foam Brush Handle (used as a mandrel to shape the hooks)
Candy that's yummy

1. Cut pair(s) of 2 1/4" pieces of wire with flush cutters.
2. Secure each end of a piece of wire in smooth surface pliers and pull to stretch until strait.
3. Hammer the one end (1/4" or so) of each wire flat on the steel block.
4. Use the smallest end of the small round nose pliers to curl the flattened end into a loop.

5. Now switch to large round nose pliers. Grip the wire with the small loop on top of the pliers, facing you. Curl the strait end of the wire back, and up until it touches the little curl.

6. Pound the hook you just formed flat at the point that is farthest from the little curl. Eat some candy to celebrate your progress! You are 1/2 way done.

7. Hold two wires together with the loops facing you, right next to each other. Use your thumb to press the wire to the dowel or wooden handle of the foam brush, holding them just above the curls.
Push the straight wires around the dowel/handle until they almost come around and touch the curls.

8. Use the flush cutters to even out the strait tails of the hooks. Ideally the back should be longer than the front curls. (I do 4 at a time)

9. Use the cup bur to round and smooth the end of the wires so they won't injure the wearer. Eat some candy to reward yourself for being a considerate jeweler!

10. Use the large round nose pliers to grasp the straight part of the wire about even with where the curl is on the other side. Curl the end to put in a gentle curve that will help the wearer put the earring on easily.

11. To give the wire more strength to hold it's shape, you will need to flatten the curve of the hook just before and after the part that will rest in the ear. Do NOT flatten the part that will be in the ear or it will become sharp which is dangerous and uncomfortable to wear.

You are done! Eat some candy! For extra shine you can tumble the ear wires, or for a vintage look, antique them with patina. There are many shapes, sizes and varieties of earring wires you can make. This is just a really fun and easy one that looks great!


threemoonbabies said...

Thanks for sharing! This is great! I have been wanting to learn how to make my own ear wires for a while!

A Beaded Affair said...

Nicely done, you should do more tutorials. I specially like the "candy" reward part.

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