Updated: Sep 18, 2021
You've seen the background patterns on our website and you're wondering how to use them? Here's a tutorial to give you a spark of inspiration for your next project!
To create your own heart earrings, you will need one of Metal Maven's pattern pressings. The one below is a good pattern to use for this project. We also have many other all-over background patterns to choose from on our website.
(Before starting this project I blackened my whole pressing using Gosiba and sanded it with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper. You can use your choice of blackening agent before cutting, or you can wait until you've cut your pieces out.)
MAKE A TEMPLATE
First you will need to plot where you want your earring cutouts on your pressing. You can freehand your designs or make a template.
TIP: An easy way to make a reusable see-through template is to find something plastic that you no longer need like a lid to plastic food container!
Cut the middle out of the lid.
I wanted to use a pancake die to cut my earring blanks out, so here I'm showing how I placed the piece of plastic into my pancake die and just traced around the inside of the heart shape with a fine point Sharpie.
Then I used an X-ACTO knife to cut along the lines.
It doesn't need to be perfect... : )
Then I used the see-through template to lay on top of my pressing to help plot where I wanted to cut my blanks out.
Use a fine tip Sharpie to draw lines along the inside edges of your template cutout.
Once you've plotted out your cut lines, use a pancake die in a hydraulic press to pop them out, or use a jeweler's saw to cut them out.
Align your piece in your pancake die. Cutting out a blank with very narrow margins of metal around the outside of your design might not be possible with some pancake dies. My pancake dies have really tight kerfs which allows me to do this. If your pancake dies require a wider margin, you might be better off using a jewelers saw.
I use a thin piece of urethane under my pancake dies to protect the pressed designs on my blanks.
After cutting out the shape with a pancake die, I removed the tab by clipping it off with my guillotine shear. If you don't have a shear, use your jewelers saw or metal cutting scissor type shears.
Remove the Sharpie line with finger nail polish remover.
Even though I had already used patina on my pressing, and sanded it, I sanded my blanks a second time to bring out the highlights. I used a small piece of 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper and used the tip of my fingernail to press it down into the low areas to highlight the fine lines while sanding.
Next, mark where you want your holes with a fine tip Sharpie. You can do this on the front of your pieces if you wish. I chose to mark the backs because it was easier to see my marks.
If you plan to use a drill bit in your flex shaft or drill press to drill your hole, use a sharp tipped awl or nail and a hammer to put a dimple in the center of your mark first.
The dimple will help keep your drill bit from dancing all around on your piece when you drill your hole.
Drill your hole.
Some drill bits leave a rough edge around your hole.
A round tipped bur or a setting bur works well to remove the rough edges on your holes.
The burs can be used with a flex shaft or simply hold them with your fingers. Place the edge into the hole and twist gently in a clockwise motion until the rough edge is removed.
Use a flat file to smooth the edges of your heart blank.
MAKING COPPER EARWIRES
For the copper earrings, make some copper earwires using a handy little tool called the "Easy Ear Wires" tool. Open the earwire loop to the side and attach to the piece through the drilled hole. Close the open loop.
Tip: If you have Sterling Silver wire you can also make silver earwires using the same tool or purchase earwires from a jewelry making supplier like Rio Grande.
Adding the Sterling Silver Earwires
Metal Maven recommends using Sterling Silver earwires from Rio Grande. They are relatively inexpensive and allow you to market your earrings as being good quality as opposed to base metal earwires. Here are the earwires used for these earrings.
Opening the earwires.
A good technique for attaching the ear wire loop to your piece involves opening the loop to the side instead of pulling it out from the ball. Grab a pair of chain nose pliers and hold the open end of the loop. See the photo below.
Now hold the earwire with your fingers and bend the loop towards you or away from you. The loop will look like the photo below if you have done it correctly. Next, put the open loop through the hole at the top of your piece. Using the pliers again, bend the open loop back into place. Be sure to face the front of the earring to front side of the earwire.
Since these are meant to be "rustic", I did not hand polish them with a Sunshine Polishing Cloth or put them into a rotary tumbler, but you can do that step if you wish!
They look great in sterling silver also!
1 Rustic Cowgirl Floral pressing in copper or sterling silver
Gosiba or your choice of blackening agent
Plastic food container lid for reusable template
Fine point Sharpie marker
Pancake die or jewelers saw
Fingernail polish remover or acetone
800 grit wet/dry sandpaper
Sharp tipped awl or nail
Round tipped bur or setting bur
Rotary tumbler or Sunshine Polishing Cloth if you wish to polish