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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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About Kim St. Jean

Kim St. Jean is an award winning instructor, author, and jewelry designer. She has been teaching jewelry classes for over 15 years. Kim has been published in numerous magazines and books. She has appeared on several beading/craft television programs and has three books published: “Mixed Metal Mania: Solder, Rivet, Hammer, and Wire Exceptional Jewelry” in 2011, “Metal Magic: How to Etch, Pierce, Enamel, and Set Striking Jewelry” in 2012, and “Colorful Wirework Jewelry” in 2016. She will be teaching twelve classes at the Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee in June.

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