…Made a graduation present

This past weekend my sister graduated from high school. It was a nice ceremony and everyone was happy and celebratory and stuff. Sis had a stack of cards and presents and was fielding attention from several directions when she opened the little box I had given her.

“Oh wow!” she said, looking at the earrings inside “These are so cool!”

“You like them?” I asked.

“I do! They’re really neat!”

“He made them.” said Bride.

Sis stopped and looked more closely at the little dangles. “You made these?” she asked.

I smiled. “Sure did. You really like them?”

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “This is like the coolest thing ever!” Then she immediately put them on and showed them off to everyone around.

I have to admit that that felt pretty good.

It’s great when a gift is well received. It’s something else altogether better when the gift started as an idea in your head and you made it happen. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to snap a few pictures to show you how to make some of your own. Unfortunately, my camera had a case of the ass that I didn’t realize and some of the pics came out blurry. I’ve included them anyway so you can sort of see step by step. 

Materials and tools:

12 gauge copper wireSilver-coated copper wire
Silver or silver-coated earring hooks
Wire cutters
Ball peen hammer
Locking or regular pliers (locking is easier)
Wire brush
Vise, anvil, or other hard surface for pounding metal

First, cut the copper wire into the desired length. These were one inch long. Note that the metal grows as you hammer it so think about that before you cut. My pliers had about ¼” grip that I cut off and the earrings ended up a little over an inch long.

Once you have your copper held firmly in the grip of the pliers, go all Thor on that shit. Use the round side of the hammer to smash the wire into magnificent baubles. Make sure you flip it over and get both sides. After a few strikes, the metal gets soft and it really doesn’t take very long to pound it flat. When you are finished with the first, load up the other one and hammer away. This is a great activity for listening to really heavy metal. Hammering kicks ass. Remember to compare the second one to the first one every now and then so that they’ll be about the same size. 

Use your wire cutters and snip off the excess wire that had been held in the pliers. Drill a small hole at the top of each copper piece. Use a file to take off any burrs or sharp edges. Use a wire brush to take off dirt and oil to shine the copper. (If you want a patina, just wait. Copper oxidizes rather quickly. If you want one faster than nature is willing to give you, Google is your friend.)

Now for the wire wrap. This can get a bit tricky so I’ll explain as best I can. Insert the wire through the hole about 1/8” and bend it 90 degrees. Hold it against the earring and wrap the wire from the bottom up. Try not to wrap too tightly. When you reach the top, make an upside-down “U” over the top of the earring and then thread the end of the wire back down behind the wire coils on the same side as your 1/8” leader. Now twist the “U” into a ring to attach the earring hook. As you twist the ring, the coil around the copper gets tighter. 

Blurry view of the front of the earring with a tight coil. The first picture shows the backs of the earrings where you can see some of the wiring detail. I was just completely off on my photography game that day.

And there you have it folks, homemade copper and silver earrings.

Hope you enjoyed it.

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