My earring making Saturday

Sterling silver artisan earwires and amethyst nugget earrings

Everyone else was doing their own thing today and the weather forecast was dire. True to form it rained most of the morning. It did clear up for a while in the afternoon but soon the showers were back and now, in the evening, its torrential again.

I had been thinking all week about having a lovely day in, not doing anything else but making jewellery. That was even before the weather but the rain made it extra nice – I wasn’t in and missing nice weather.

OK, well I had to do a few other things first, quick tidy, dishwasher, put some washing in, feed cats etc. But after these necessary chores, I was in my craft room by 8.30am (keen!) and starting to go through my bead stash. Since I started making jewellery four years ago I’ve collected oodles of beads. They have been twiddling their thumbs for the past year in the two Bisley mutlidrawer cabinets I bought second-hand to store them in as I’ve not had chance to do much. Today they were jiggling in their pots with anticipation.

I’ve bought beads from ebay, craft fairs, gem and bead shows, Etsy sellers, and other internet sites. I like colourful beads but I like stone beads that have more muted colours too. They don’t have to be precious gems, I just love the cold feel of stones that have been polished and get side tracked just sorting, feeling and looking at them. The patterns and inclusions are gorgeous, I think. I can’t understand the fascination in jewellery circles for ‘perfect’ ‘flawless’ stones. OK, maybe diamonds, but the amethysts I used in the earrings in this main photo are more beautiful because of the flashes of white and dark gold and because they aren’t that deep purple. Much more delicate.

The fact that the stones have inclusions and do look pale is also a good indication that they haven’t been treated to give them an artificial colour. Some stones that you buy have – like the turquoise howlite in the heart earrings lower down. I know they aren’t real turquoise, but they are still pretty and look striking as they are quite big. The treatment doesn’t harm the wearer, it just means that if you leave the stones in sunlight, they tend to fade over time. Keep them in a jewellery box or drawer and they will be fine for years.

Pairing up

My first job was to pair up my choices. Gemstones are unique and so are glass beads that are handmade, but they can be similar enough to match up to make a pair of earrings. Once they are in your ears, no-one notices tiny differences in size, colour or marking. I’ve also got some fun charms, like the roses, cameras and anchors, just for some variety.

Making earrings: matching the pairs
Making earrings: matching the pairs

I think I was a bit adventurous as I chose so many, but they are all so beautiful and the colours really cheered up the grey, overcast and rainy morning.

I was a bit rusty so had to do some practicing on craft wire to start with but I was soon away and the little pairs of new earrings popped into the world one after the other.

I started with my silver plated findings, some glass beads, silver plated charms and then some of the less expensive stones. I am going to a craft retreat in three weeks and there will be a table to sell things and it would be a good opportunity to raise some money for Marie Curie nurses. These first pairs are going to be priced at just £2 and then I plan to have some sterling silver ones priced at about £6. I may even put some of the nicer stones with antiqued brass settings and set their price at £3.50.

Half of the money raised will go to the Marie Curie fund and half will go towards the materials. I ought to try to break even although I am happy to put all of the time and some of the materials in as my own donation.

Sterling silver earrings

When I went on a residential course in France last August, Karen of La Vidalerie showed us how to make all sorts of different earwires in silver. She has a fantastic selection on her website but I love making the ones she demonstrated as I think they really set off some of the nicer stones I have. Earrings have to be light and I like them to dangle, but they also have to be comfortable to wear and reasonably safe. I hate losing an earring!

Sterling silver artisan earwires and green jade
Sterling silver artisan earwires and green jade
Sterling silver artisan earwires and single chalcedony stones in aqua
Sterling silver artisan earwires and single chalcedony stones in aqua