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Scrollwork earrings

Make delicate Victorian-style earrings using simple wirework

Click through the step-by-step instructions for making these earrings in the gallery below. For the free project PDF, click here.

Materials

Earrings 1 1⁄2 in. (38 mm)

  • Fine-silver wire, round, dead soft

    13 in. (33 cm) 20-gauge (0.8 mm)
    6 ft. (1.8 m) 26-gauge (0.4 mm)

  • 11 in. (27.9 cm) 20-gauge (0.8 mm) sterling silver wire, round, dead soft
  • 6 2.5 mm sterling silver seamless round beads 

Tools & supplies

  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • 1⁄2-in. (13 mm) mandrel
  • Tweezers
  • Butane torch
  • Liver of sulfur (optional)
  • Tumbler with steel shot and burnishing compound (optional)
Scrollwork earrings a
Step a
Scrollwork earrings b
Step b

1. Cut a 4-in. (10.2 cm) piece of 20-gauge sterling silver (core) wire. Using a fine-tip permanent marker, mark 1 in. (25.5 mm) from the end of the wire.

2. Cut a 20-in. (50.8 cm) piece of 26-gauge (wrapping) wire. Starting at the 1-in. (25.5 mm) mark, coil the wrapping wire around the core wire until you have a 1 1⁄2-in. (38 mm) coil. You should have 1 in. (25.5 mm) of bare core wire on one end and 1 1⁄2 in. (38 mm) on the other. Trim and tuck the ends of the wrapping wire (a).

3. Form the coiled section of the core wire around a 1⁄2-in. (13 mm) mandrel so that both ends of the coil meet. Cross the shorter end of bare wire behind the longer end (b). Carefully remove the wire from the mandrel.
Scrollwork earrings c
Step c
Scrollwork earrings d
Step d

4. With the tip of your chainnose pliers, grasp the longer end of the bare wire next to the coil, and bend it up at a 90˚ angle (c).

5. With the shorter end of the bare wire, make a full wrap around the longer end, close to the 90˚ bend. Trim and tuck the shorter end of the bare wire (d). If necessary, place the wire back on the mandrel to adjust the shape.

Scrollwork earrings e
Step e
Scrollwork earrings f
Step f

6. Make a wrapped loop above the wrap from step 5, and trim the wire to 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) (e).

Form an open spiral with the wire, and center the spiral under the wrapped loop (f).

7. Repeat steps 1–6 to make a second coiled frame, and set the frames aside.

Scrollwork earrings g
Step g
Scrollwork earrings h
Step h

8. Cut a 6 1⁄2-in. (16.5 cm) piece of 20-gauge fine-silver wire. Grasp the wire with tweezers, and use a butane torch to ball up each end of the wire (g). After balling, the wire should measure approximately 6 in. (15.2 cm).

9. With the largest part of your roundnose pliers, grasp the midpoint of the wire, and cross the ends to form a loop (h). This will be the center loop of the scrollwork.

Scrollwork earrings i
Step i
Scrollwork earrings j
Step j

10. About 1 mm from the largest part of your roundnose pliers, lightly grasp the wire to the left of the center loop. Form the wire around the pliers counterclockwise, creating a slightly smaller second loop (i).

11. With your roundnose pliers, grasp the end of the wire, and curve it loosely in the same direction as the previous loop. Work slowly to form a large third loop, curving small sections at a time and threading theend of the wire through the second loop. Reposition your pliers inside the third loop, and keep curving and pushing the wire through the second loop until the third loop is about the same size as the second loop. The wire end should be approximately 3⁄4 in. (19 mm) long (j).

Scrollwork earrings k
Step k
Scrollwork earrings l
Step l

12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 on the right side of the center loop (k).

13. On each end of the wire below the balled up tip, use roundnose pliers to make a loop toward the center of the scrollwork. Adjust any of the loops as necessary to compress the scrollwork and make it symmetrical (l).

14. Repeat steps 8–13 to make a second scrollwork piece.

Scrollwork earrings m
Step m
Scrollwork earrings n
Step n

15. Using a fine-tip permanent marker, mark the bottom center of one of the coiled frames. Cut a 6-in. (15.2 cm) piece of 26-gauge (wrapping) wire. Leaving a 1⁄2-in. (13 mm) tail, make three wraps around the frame at the mark (m).

16. Position one of the scrollwork pieces above the coiled frame, with the top of the center loop directly above the wrapped mark on the frame. Make three wraps around the frame and through the center loop to connect the two pieces (n). Trim and tuck the ends of the wrapping wire at the back of the scrollwork.

Scrollwork earrings o
Step o
Scrollwork earrings p
Step p

17. Cut a 4-in. (10.2 cm) piece of wrapping wire. Locate the point where the wire of the third loop on the left side of the scrollwork crosses itself, and make three wraps around both wires (o). Wrap from left to right so that the working wire is on top when you are done with your wraps.

String a 2.5 mm bead on the wire, and wrap around both wires where the third loop on the right crosses itself (p). Trim and tuck the ends of the wrapping wire at the back of the scrollwork.

Scrollwork earrings q
Step q
Scrollwork earrings r
Step r

18. Cut a 3-in. (76 mm) piece of wrapping wire. Make three wraps around the last loop on the top left side of the scrollwork and the coiled frame. String a 2.5 mm bead on the wire, and make three wraps around the frame only. The bead should be positioned on the coiled frame directly above the last loop (q). Repeat this step on the other side of the scrollwork. Trim and tuck the ends of the wrapping wire.

19. Repeat steps 15–18 to assemble the other coiled frame and scrollwork.

20. Cut a 1 1⁄2-in. (38 mm) piece of 20-gauge sterling silver wire. Use a flat needle file to flatten and smooth one end. With the tip of your roundnose pliers, make a loop at this end. Mark the wire 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) from the base of the loop, and grasp the mark with the largest part of your roundnose pliers. Form the wire into a hook around the jaw of the pliers, bending the wire away from the loop (r).

21. Flush-cut the tip of the ear wire at a 45˚ angle, and then use a needle file or sandpaper to smooth any sharpness or rough edges. With the largest part of your roundnose pliers, grasp the tip of the ear wire, and bend it slightly outward.

22. Repeat steps 20 and 21 to make a second ear wire. 

23. Open the loop of each ear wire. For each earring, attach the wrapped loop at the top of a coiled frame, and close the loop. If desired, use liver of sulfur to patinate the earrings, and then tumble-polish them.

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