I’ve really learned a lot when it comes to working with wire.  I remember when I first started working with it I had some trouble.  I think it occurred for two reasons – (1) I was too timid with the wire, you have to really handle it and (2) I didn’t really want to sit and practice wire-working, I wanted to make finished pieces.  Well, I got past both of those by purchasing some inexpensive copper wire and putting in the time to practice.  Truthfully, it didn’t take that long and I still turn to copper first when working out a design or trying a new technique.

These earrings were made by creating multiple circular components out of gold-filled wire and then linking them together.  I bought a pack containing several crochet hooks in various sizes and they are what I use to form wire to get consistent sizes.  So, if you look at my notes you see things like “use the pink crochet hook” and I’m really referring to  diameter.  The crochet hooks have the diameter stamped on them, it’s just easier to refer to them by color.  I’m happy with these earrings and have made some in silver and have used some of the copper ones too.

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Hoop Earrings with Crystals

Hoop earrings have always been fun and I love seeing women showing their flair through hoop earrings and other types of jewelry.  Some women keep it small with their hoop earrings and others take it big.  Still others go super-size with really big hoop earrings, ones that almost touch their shoulders.  All of them are just epressing their style – and I love it.

These hoop earrings are on the moderate side – about 1 1/2″ in diameter.  They are wire-wrapped in warm-toned Swarovski crystals and glass pearls.

Taking a different spin, these earrings feature hand formed and hammered sterling silver hoops, accented with touches of gold in a play of mixed metals.  Amethyst crystals and smaller glass circles in soft purple tones complete the design.

Sterling Hoop Earrings

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A style of jewelry I don’t make, but greatly respect and admire is chain maille jewelry.  Chain maille jewelry has its origins in chain maille armour created in medieval times.  It is a style of jewelry that is very labor intensive, requiring precision and I would think a lot of patience.  It can be expensive, but when one considers the amount of metal consumed as well as the countless hours complex designs require, it becomes easy to see how very worth it a well made piece can be.  There are chain maille artists who work to replicate and honor chain maille patterns from the past and those that put their own spin on it.

One chain maille artist who definitely puts her own twist on things is 88Links.  I love her Egyptian Glory Neck Chain.  It combines chain maille with Egyptian symbolism so beautifully.  88Links says its inspired by ancient Egypt and confident women everywhere and I see the sense of strength and confidence in the piece.  You can see more of 88Links work by clicking here.

88Links

Photo courtesy of 88Links

Astraea Designs, another chain maille artist, says she is inspired by ancient cultures, mythology, and medieval and Renaissance costumes.  That inspiration is evident in her Gold and Bronze chain maille necklace.  She has beautifully encased a brown mother of pearl disc in an artful chain maille arrangement and accented it with three smaller tiger’s eye beads.  More gorgeous designs can be seen here.

AstreaDesigns

Photo courtesy of Astraea Designs

Kani73 puts a modern twist on chain maille with these earrings that combine traditional techniques with a flair that is very much today.  Kani73 based these earrings on a European weave worked in a triangle pattern and then attached it to an open spiral that provides contrast to the tight mesh created by the chain maille.  These gorgeous earrings are called Midnight Garden Earrings; other designs are available here.

Kani73

Photo courtesy of Kani73

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Olivene and Blue Beads off Long EarwiresI use commercial earwires for many of my earrings but find that I am moving towards using handmade earwires more and more.  I especially love the long ones like those shown here.  They are relatively simple to make and add a beautiful touch to even the simplest earring design.  I made these by cutting lengths of sterling silver wire, using my torch to create a ball on the ends, forming the earwire shape with pliers, and then filing the end that is inserted into the ear so it is smooth.  I love the long, clean look and keep a little batch of them in the storage box with the commercial earwires.  Who knows, someday the handmade ones may take over…

pliersThese are my pliers – I use them for beadwork, wirework, and metal.  When I first starting beading, I only had two pair of pliers and one cutter.  Over the years, as I sought to learn new techniques or finish pieces in a different manner, I acquired more.  There are a few general purpose ones and some that are designed for a certain task.

The small pair in the front with the blue handles are the first pair I ever bought.  I got them from Accents Bead Store in Bethesda, MD and I think they cost $11.00.  I have used them for years and they feel like part of my hand when I pick them up.  Once in a while when my boyfriend is working on his honey-do list, he will ask for a pair of needle-nose pliers.  I tell him I have these he can use, and then say that they were the first ones I ever bought back when I started beading.  At this point, he usually finds something else to use.  I need to buy him a pair of his own.