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Wire-wrapped glass bead earrings

Capture the sparkle and shine of colorful art glass beads with faceted gemstones and pearls

I created the focal beads with an eye toward classical glasswork, and then I designed the earrings to echo the colors and texture in the glass. Paired with a gemstone medley and coiled wire, they combine the charm and beauty of the old world with the sparkle and richness of the new.

SUPPLIES

Both pairs of earrings

  • paper clip
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers 
  • wire cutters

Pair of earrings (red)

  • 2 14 mm lampworked glass focal beads (Eclectica, eclecticabeads.com)
  • 2 13 mm CRYSTALLIZED™ polygon drop pendants (topaz)
  • 4 10 x 5 mm faceted crystal briolettes (siam)
  • 4 6 mm faceted CRYSTALLIZED™ rondelles (light Colorado topaz AB)
  • 2 6 mm faceted gemstone briolettes (garnet) 
  • 8 5 x 4 mm faceted gemstone briolettes (garnet)
  • 4 4 x 3 mm freshwater pearls (golden green)
  • 16 11/0 seed beads (ivory)
  • 20 in. (51 cm) 26-gauge wire (gold)
  • 4–5 1⁄2 ft. (1.2–1.7 m) 28-gauge wire (gold)
  • 30–36 2-in. (5 cm) 26-gauge ball head pins (gold)
  • pair of earring findings (gold)

Pair of earrings (blue)

  • 2 14 mm lampworked glass focal beads (Laura Holm, jewelsbyldesigns.etsy.com)
  • 2 13 x 8 mm faceted spiral-cut gemstone briolettes, citrine (Magpie Gemstones, magpiegemstones.com, or Bead Trust, beadtrust.com)
  • 4 10 x 5 mm faceted gemstone briolettes (London blue topaz)
  • 4 6 mm faceted gemstone rondelles (imperial topaz)
  • 2 6 mm faceted onion gemstone briolettes (citrine) 
  • 8 5 x 4 mm faceted gemstone briolettes (aquamarine)
  • 4 4 x 3 mm freshwater pearls (white)
  • 16 2 mm freshwater pearls (white)
  • 20 in. (51 cm) 26-gauge wire (sterling silver)
  • 4–5 1⁄2 ft. (1.2–1.7 m) 28-gauge wire (sterling silver)
  • 30–36 2-in. (5 cm) 26-gauge ball head pins (sterling silver)
  • pair of earring findings (sterling silver)

INSTRUCTIONS

Wire wrapped glass bead earrings a
Photo a
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings b
Photo b
1. On a head pin, string a 6 mm faceted rondelle, and make a wrapped loop. (PHOTO A) Repeat with a second rondelle and each of the following beads: a 6 mm faceted briolette (PHOTO B), four 5 x 4 mm faceted briolettes, and eight 2 mm freshwater pearls or 11/0 seed beads.
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings c
Photo c
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings d
Photo d

2. On a head pin with the ball cut off or a 3-in. (7.6 cm) piece of 28-gauge wire, string a 10 x 5 mm faceted briolette, and make the first half of a wrapped loop above the briolette. Attach the loops of two 5 x 4 mm faceted briolettes and the loops of four 2 mm freshwater pearls or 11/0 seed beads (PHOTO C). Repeat, and then repeat using a 13 x 8 mm briolette, attaching the loops of two 6 mm rondelles and the loop of the 6 mm briolette. Set these dangles aside.

3. Cut a 10-in. (25 cm) piece of 26-gauge wire. Make a large (4–5 mm) wrapped loop on one end (PHOTO D). String a focal bead, leave a slight gap, and make a smaller (2–3 mm) wrapped loop on the other end, which will be the bottom of the unit.

Wire wrapped glass bead earrings e
Photo e
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings f
Photo f

4. Using your fingers, curve the wire around the bead, leaving about 1 mm of space between the bead and the wire, and wrap the wire around the top loop (PHOTO E). Repeat the curve around the other side, and wrap the wire around the bottom loop. 

5. Repeat step 4, snugging the second curved wire close to the first. Wrap the wire around the bottom loop once more, cut the tail, and use your pliers to tuck the end.

6. Cut a 2-ft. (.6 m) piece of 28-gauge wire, and slide it between the focal bead and one pair of curved wires, snugging the working wire close to the top loop and leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail. Hold the tail, and feed the wire through the space between the focal bead and the pair of curved wires, wrapping it to form a coil. Keeping the coils straight and tight against each other (PHOTO F), complete 15–20 coils, cut the tail, and use your pliers to tuck the end. Continue coiling the working wire around the pair of curved wires until you are about 3 mm from the bottom loop.

Wire wrapped glass bead earrings g
Photo g
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings h
Photo h

7. Straighten the end of a paper clip, and hold it adjacent to the curved wires. Coil the working wire around the pair of curved wires and the end of the paper clip twice (PHOTO G). Holding the paper clip in place, coil the working wire around the pair of curved wires once, remove the paper clip, and continue coiling the working wire around the pair of curved wires until you reach the bottom loop. 

8. Feeding the wire through the space between the focal bead and the curved wires, wrap the working wire around the base of the wrapped loop once, and bring the wire around to the front of the earring. Pick up a 4 x 3 mm freshwater pearl, wrap the wire around the base of the wrapped loop, and bring the wire to the front of the pearl. Wrap the wire around the pearl a few times to form a frame, and tuck the wire through the space between the focal bead and the unwrapped pair of curved wires on the other side of the bottom loop (PHOTO H).

9. Count the coils from the base of the bottom loop to the loop formed around the paper clip. Starting from the base of the bottom loop, work the same number of coils around the unwrapped pair of curved wires. 

10. Using the straightened end of the paper clip, repeat step 7, coiling until you reach the top loop.

11. Repeat step 8, and bring the wire to the back of the earring and through the top loop. Make coils with the working wire around the loop, and then wrap the wire around the base of the loop a couple of times. Cut the wire, and use your pliers to tuck the end.

Wire wrapped glass bead earrings i
Photo i
Wire wrapped glass bead earrings alt
DESIGN ALTERNATIVE
Add an optional patina to the wire to offset the brilliant dazzle of these earrings.

12. Attach a 10 x 5 mm briolette dangle with clusters of 5 x 4 mm briolettes and 2 mm freshwater pearls or 11/0 seed beads to a loop formed by the paper clip (PHOTO I), and complete the wraps, extending them over the top of the briolette. Trim, and use your pliers to tuck the end.

13. Repeat step 12 with the other loop formed by the paper clip, and repeat again with the bottom loop of the earring using a 13 x 8 mm briolette dangle with clusters of 6 mm rondelles and a 6 mm briolette.  

14. Open the loop of an earring finding, attach the top loop of the earring, and close the loop.

15. Make a second earring. 

DESIGNER'S NOTES

  • If the curved wires are too close to the focal bead, use a needle to lift them, making enough space to feed the coiling wire through. 
  • To make your earrings match exactly, count the coils while wrapping the second half of the earring, and use that number of coils to start the second earring.
  • To oxidize the sterling silver, place half a hard-boiled egg in a sealed plastic container with the earrings. Leave the egg and earrings in the container for at least four hours or overnight. Remove the earrings and buff the silver to bring back some of the shine.
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