Wire people earrings

Basic wire forming and simple soldering are all you need to know to make a pair of earrings that’s loaded with personality.

Like the most effective line drawings, these earrings have a presence and personality that far outweighs their technical complexity. You could easily whip these little guys up in an afternoon and have them dancing from your earlobes by evening. 

SUPPLIES

  • Sterling silver round wire: 
    • 14-gauge (1.6 mm), 8 in. (20.3 cm)
    • 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 6 in. (15.2 cm)
    • 20-gauge (0.8 mm), 4 in. (10.2 cm)
  • Sterling silver jump rings: 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 6
  • Toolboxes 
  • Forming pliers
  • Riveting block (optional)

Supplies from Rio Grande, www.riogrande.com

INSTRUCTIONS

Wire people earrings_step 1
1. Using flush cutters, cut a 3-in. (76 mm) piece of 18-gauge (1.0 mm) wire. Using roundnose pliers, grip one end of the wire, and use your thumb to push the wire around the pliers’ jaw to form a curve. Open the pliers and regrip the wire as necessary to form an open spiral with two complete rotations. This spiral will be the “head” of one of your earrings.
Wire people earrings_step 2
2. Using forming pliers, grip the spiral’s tail and gently bend it opposite the spiral. This tail will be the neck of one of your earrings. If you don’t have forming pliers, you can use a wooden dowel or thick marker.
Wire people earrings_step 3
3. Place the spiral on a bench block, and use a chasing hammer to flatten the spiral. Hammer with firm but light strokes; your aim is to flatten the wire without distorting the spiral. This will strengthen the spiral and give the wire a square profile.
Wire people earrings_step 4
4. Trim the tail if necessary to make it the correct length for your earrings. Place the end of the tail on the bench block, and use the chasing hammer to taper and flatten the tail; a flattened, wider base will allow you to solder the neck to the arms more easily. Lay the head/neck wire aside.
Wire people earrings_step 5
5. Cut a 1 1⁄4-in. (32 mm) piece of 14-gauge (1.6 mm) wire. Using forming pliers, grip the wire at its midpoint, and use your fingers to bend the wire around the larger jaw to form an even curve. This wire will be the shoulders, arms, and hands for one of your earrings.
Wire people earrings_step 6
6. Place the curved wire on the bench block, and use the hammer to lightly flatten the entire wire and then taper each end into a paddle shape for the hands. You don’t want the wire ends to become too thin, but you’ll need enough width to saw the finger details.
Wire people earrings_step 7
7. Use a flat needle file to clean up the edges of the flattened ends.
Wire people earrings_step 8
8. Using a jeweler’s saw with a 4/0 blade, saw three vertical slits in each flattened end of the wire to make fingers.
Wire people earrings_step 9

9. Cut a 2 1⁄2-in. (64 mm) piece of 14-gauge (1.6 mm) wire. Using forming pliers, grip the wire at its midpoint, and bend it around the larger jaw to form an even curve. This wire will be the hips, legs, and feet of one of your earrings. 

 

Use roundnose pliers to bend the feet out 45°. Place the wire on the bench block, and lightly flatten the entire wire, then taper the feet into paddle shapes. File the edges of the feet, then saw three vertical slits in each foot to form toes.

Wire people earrings_step 10

10. Place the head/neck wire on a soldering block, then center the shoulder wire on the flat portion at the end of the neck. If necessary, file the end of the neck flat so there aren’t any gaps between it and the shoulder wire. Position a jump ring so its seam abuts the shoulder wire opposite the neck.

 

Apply flux to the assembly, then use hard solder to solder the three pieces together and solder the jump ring closed. Quench the assembly in water, then pickle and rinse it.

Wire people earrings_step 11
11. Place the hips/legs wire on the soldering block. Using hard solder, solder a jump ring to the center of the U bend. Make sure the jump ring’s seam is directly against the hips/legs so that it’s soldered shut. Quench the assembly in water, pickle it, and rinse it.
Wire people earrings_step 12
12. Use a jump ring to connect the two sections of the body. Grip the connecting jump ring in a third hand, flux its seam, and then use medium solder to solder it closed. Be careful to avoid melting the adjacent wires. Quench the assembly in water.
Wire people earrings_step 13

13. Cut a 2-in. (51 mm) piece of 20-gauge (0.8 mm) wire, and file one end flat. Position the body so that the head lies flat on top of the soldering block. Sweat solder a small bit of solder onto the flat end of the wire, then place the wire in a third hand, and position it where you want to attach it to the spiral. Heat the join until the solder flows, then quench, pickle, and rinse the earring. 

 

Using flush cutters, trim the earring post to about 1⁄4 in. (6.5 mm). Use a flat needle file to clean up and taper the end of the post. Repeat the process to make a second earring. 

Sitting guy
Alice Sprintzen used square wire to make the arms and legs of her earrings, and she used round wire for the posts. When we re-created the earrings, we used round wire for the whole project and used a chasing hammer to form the hands and feet. The earrings measure 2 in. (51 mm) from head to toe.
FIND MORE: wire , earrings , soldering

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