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No-solder metal earrings

Give basic metalworking a try for striking geometric earrings

I love working with metals and using cold-connection techniques (no soldering). These earrings incorporate a variety of metalworking skills — cutting, piercing, texturing, folding, and riveting. Every time I teach a class, I learn something new from my students’ questions and the issues they raise. The most important thing I try to teach them is that a class is about learning the skills, not making a perfect piece of jewelry. But with a little practice, you’ll surprise yourself with the beautiful things you create.

SUPPLIES

  • 24-gauge copper sheet
  • 6 rivets
  • pair of earring post pads with earring backs
  • bench pin
  • flatnose pliers
  • ball peen hammer
  • texture hammers
  • bench block or anvil
  • jeweler’s saw with 3/0 blades
  • metal file
  • metal punch
  • metal shears
  • fine-point felt tip pen
  • liver of sulfur (optional)

Supplies from Studio StJean, kimstjean.com, or Rio Grande, riogrande.com. Texture hammer from Eclectica. Check your local bead store for supplies. 

INSTRUCTIONS

No solder metal earrings 1
Step 1
For each earring: Use shears to cut a 1 x 1 1⁄2-in. (2.5 x 3.8 cm) copper rectangle. At the top of the rectangle, mark 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) from each side. Cut from the bottom corners along the lines.
No solder metal earrings 2
Step 2
Draw a line 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) from the top. Mark 3⁄16 in. (5 mm) from each side. Mark 1 in. (2.5 cm) down from the center of the line. Draw a U connecting the points.
No solder metal earrings 3
Step 3
Use a metal punch to punch a hole at the bottom of the U.
No solder metal earrings 4
Step 4
Unfasten one side of the blade from a saw and insert it in the hole. Re-fasten the blade.
No solder metal earrings 5
Step 5
Attach the bench pin (a wooden extension made for sawing and filing) to the work surface and position the saw blade in the V (obscured by my thumb in the photo). Saw along the U, stopping at the top line.
No solder metal earrings 6
Step 6
With your flatnose pliers, fold the U-shaped flap up at a right angle. File and shape the edges as needed.
No solder metal earrings 7
Step 7
On a bench block or anvil, use a texture hammer to texture the outer part of the copper. Texture a different pattern on the flap that faces the outer textured surface.
No solder metal earrings 8
Step 8
Fold the flap back about 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) from the first fold. Punch a hole for the earring post about 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) from the fold.
No solder metal earrings 9
Step 9
Insert the earring post and use chainnose pliers to flatten the flap. Trim the flap if it overlaps the U-shaped hole.
No solder metal earrings 10
Step 10
Mark and punch three holes on one side of the U.
No solder metal earrings 11
Step 11
Insert a rivet in each hole. Use the flat end of a ball-peen hammer to strike the back of the rivet squarely to flatten the end. Add a patina with liver of sulfur if desired.
Tip!
Editor’s note: I experimented with a “no saw” option and used shears to pierce the U design. It’s possible, but it wasn’t pretty. This method was much more time consuming (tiny snips, much more filing) and still didn’t look quite right. I’d recommend trying a saw — just practice on scrap metal first.

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