Handstamped metal earrings

Personalize metal earrings with handstamped phrases (half the phrase on one earring, half on the other) and a variety of beaded dangles

Handstamped She Sells Sea Shells Earrings
Handstamped metal earrings design alternative
Editor’s note: Make keepsake jewelry by stamping your children’s (or grandchildren’s) names on silver blanks. Use crystals in their birthstone colors to make dangles, and attach the dangles to the blanks.

Frame your face with a favorite phrase, quote, rhyme, or lyric. Let your chosen beads guide you, as these tiny shells did for this project’s designers. Or, choose your words first, and then have fun finding the perfect beads to enhance your theme. Sterling silver blanks are easy to find in many shapes and sizes – no saw or metal shears required. Most don’t have holes where you’d like them, but you can use an inexpensive metal hole punch to make consistent holes quickly and cleanly.

SUPPLIES

Earrings

  • 8–15 3–6mm crystals, in various shapes and colors
  • 4–8 small shell beads (Primitive Originals Too, primitiveoriginalstoo.com)
  • 2–6 4mm sew-on crystal sequins or flat spacers
  • 2 26-gauge sterling silver teardrop-shaped blanks (Rio Grande, riogrande.com)
  • 6 in. (15cm) 20-gauge sterling silver wire, half-hard
  • 12 2-in. (5cm) sterling silver decorative head pins
  • bench block
  • chainnose pliers
  • chasing hammer
  • cup bur or small files 
  • liver of sulfur or patination liquid (optional)
  • metal hole punch (Contenti, contenti.com)
  • metal decorative stamps (optional) (Beaducation, beaducation.com)
  • 1⁄16 –1⁄8-in. (2–3mm) metal letter stamps (Contenti)
  • paintbrush (optional)
  • polishing cloth (optional)
  • roundnose pliers
  • utility hammer
  • wire cutters

INSTRUCTIONS

Earring base
Handstamped metal earrings a
Photo a
Handstamped metal earrings b
Photo b
Handstamped metal earrings c
Photo c
Handstamped metal earrings d
Photo d
Handstamped metal earrings e
Photo e
Handstamped metal earrings f
Photo f
Handstamped metal earrings g
Photo f
Handstamped metal earrings h
Photo h
Handstamped metal earrings i
Photo i

1. Using a hole punch, make five holes at the bottom of a silver blank, at least 1⁄8 in. (3mm) from the edge and 1⁄8 in. (3mm) apart. Make a hole at the top for an earring finding and a hole near the center for a surface decoration (PHOTO A).

2. Tape the blank to a bench block. Assemble the letter stamps that spell out one half of your chosen phrase. Carefully place each stamp, checking that the letter is oriented correctly. Hold the stamp steady. With a utility hammer, give the stamp one solid and heavy tap, as if you’re hammering a nail (PHOTO B). More than one hit may cause the stamp to bounce, creating a blurry shadow image.

3. After you’ve spelled your word or phrase, use design stamps to decorate some of the background. Use the same singular, firm hammer hit as you did for the letter stamps.

4. If the blank is warped from stamping, flatten it by lightly hammering the back with the large, flat side of a chasing hammer.

5. Using the small rounded side of the chasing hammer, gently hammer around the entire front edge of the blank, creating a dimpled edge (PHOTO C). Flatten the blank again if necessary.

6. Repeat steps 1–5 to make another base, stamping it with the other half of your chosen phrase.

Dangles

1. On a decorative head pin, string a bicone crystal and the open end of a shell bead. Gently manipulate the wire until the crystal partially tucks inside the shell. Make the first half of a wrapped loop. (Some shells are delicate, so take care while wrapping.) Repeat to make five dangles for each base, combining shells, crystals, silver spacers, and sequins as desired (PHOTO D).

2. Attach a dangle to a base. Complete the wrapped loop, coiling the wraps over the top of the crystal or shell.

Or, to make a wrapped loop with a spiral embellishment, use roundnose pliers to make a tiny bend at the tip of the wire. With chainnose pliers, grip the bent end, and tightly curl it to create a small spiral (PHOTO E). Complete the wrapped loop, coiling the wraps over the top of the crystal or shell and carefully bending the wire to position the spiral in front (PHOTO F).

3. Attach the remaining nine dangles to the bases, coiling over the top beads and making spiral embellishments as desired.

Earring finding

1. Cut a 3-in. (7.6cm) piece of 20-gauge wire. Make a small spiral at the end of the wire. Using the large, flat side of your chasing hammer, lightly hammer the spiral (PHOTO G).

2. Using roundnose pliers, make a small right-angle bend below the spiral (PHOTO H). This initial, incomplete bend will keep the spiral out of the way so you can easily hammer the front of the earring finding.

3. Using the large end of your roundnose pliers, make a rounded bend in the opposite direction of the last bend (PHOTO I). Lightly hammer in front of the bend you just made, without flattening the rounded portion that will go through the ear.

4. Use roundnose pliers to slightly bend the tip of the wire up. Trim the wire to the desired length, and round off any sharp edges with a cup bur or small files.

5. Repeat steps 1–4 to make a second earring finding, forming the spiral in the opposite direction to mirror the first.

Finishing

1. To make the surface decoration, string a sequin or flat spacer on a decorative head pin. String the head pin through the central hole of a base. With roundnose pliers, bend the head pin at a right angle very close to the base.

Handstamped metal earrings j
Photo j
Handstamped metal earrings k
Photo k

2. Use roundnose pliers to grip the wire at the bend. Wrap the wire once around one tip of the pliers (PHOTO J). Keep gripping and wrapping the wire until you’ve created a spiral large enough to hold the sequin or spacer securely to the base. The sequin or spacer should be able to spin, but if the connection’s too loose, gently grip the ball of the head pin, and bend itslightly to tighten it.

3. Attach the earring to an earring finding. Grip the bottom of the earring finding’s spiral with roundnose pliers. Bend the spiral up (PHOTO K) until the earring is secured onto the wire and able to swing freely.

4. If you’re using pearls or any delicate stones, carefully brush liver of sulfur or another type of patination liquid on only the metal portion of the earring, if desired. If your dangles are all crystals or nonstainable beads, you can dip the entire earring into the liquid. Once the earring is darkened, rinse and dry it.

5. Use a polishing cloth to lightly rub off some of the patina, bringing out the details and texture.

6. Repeat steps 1–5 to finish the second earring.

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