Today guest tutor, Mareike shows you the step by step process of making your own hoop earrings as well as 4 simple ways to make metal charms to complete the look!
These projects cover a range of techniques including wire work, texturing and forming metal without the need for any soldering, making it perfect for a jewellery making beginner.
Included on this page are video tutorials and photos to make it easy for you to follow along at home. You can make these hoops and charms with any metal you like, we personally love this mixed metal look but it's down to you to get creative and make something unique!
Scroll down for part 2 where Mareike shows you 4 ways to make metal charms!
Let’s start with the round wire. 0.8mm is the ideal diameter for earrings as that fits earholes perfectly. To work out the length, you can either go by eye or find something like a rolling pin that has the diameter you want your hoops to be in the end. If you know you’d like 5cm diameter earrings, you can also work out the circumference of a 5cm circle. Alternatively, you can wrap the wire around the object you have chosen.
Cut the wire with a slight overlap of roughly 0.5cm. This is also a good time to using sanding sheets to smooth the ends of the wire so that they don’t have any sharp edges – we want the earrings to be comfortable!
I find it easiest to work harden the wire first before continuing with the next steps. Work hardening means that the metal is worked – hammered, rolled, bent, so that it becomes denser and as a result springy rather than bendable.
Although be mindful that overworked wire can snap! So work harden it enough so that is has a nice springiness to it. For this, use the steel block and roll the wire with the flat piece of wood back and forth until it straightens and becomes harder. Wood won’t mark the metal, so it’s best to use this rather than steel. Alternatively, you can tap it with a rawhide mallet.
Now it’s time to shape the hoop. Through work hardening, the metal will not wrap easily around your object without jumping back a little. However, this also means that once it is shaped, it will be beautifully round. A trick is to use another object with a slightly smaller diameter and wrap the wire around that. When it springs open, it will ideally have the diameter we want it to be. To make it even, we can now tap the wire with the rawhide mallet. It’s best if you have a mandrel or other steel object for this, but another hard object will also do (beware of marks in your favourite rolling pin, though! Metal is stronger than wood!).
To work harden the wire even more and to make sure the hoop stays in shape, I recommend flattening (most of) it. This step is not necessary, though I find that it gives extra stability to the piece. To achieve this, use the flat side of a ball pein hammer to hammer about 4/5 of the hoop flat, leaving the top bit where the eye and hook will be. You will notice how sturdy it becomes.
For the eye, use the tip of round nose pliers and wrap the wire around it. Once you’ve formed a circle, grab by the point where the end of the wire meets the rest and push back a little. This makes the eye sit central at the end of your hoop.
For the hook, use flat nose pliers to grab the other end of the wire with about 1-2mm overlap and bend upwards. Eye and hook should meet with a little but not too much tension.
I like to use Brasso to rub and polish the hoops gently, and then a cloth to bring out the shine. Alternatively, you can use Kernowcraft's popular polishing papers to make your hoops shine! Another great tip is to use renaissance wax on your finished piece of jewellery to protect it and prevent it from tarnishing too quickly.
And that’s your hoop! Now you can get as creative as you want with the charms you put on. I like geometric forms cut from brass, but you can add whatever you like whether that's clay charms, ready-made charms or gemstones. There’s no end to the possibilities.
Watch part 2 of the tutorial below where I show you how to make charms with various techniques.
Keep scrolling for step by step instructions and recommended links to project tools and supplies
Recommended Tools & Supplies
Recommended Tools & Supplies
Mareike uses a metal hole punch in this tutorial, however this isn't something we stock at Kernowcraft! We do have this brilliant hand drillstock, also known as an archimedes drill which has a simple spring system to easily create a hole in your metal designs. Simply use a fingertip from one hand to apply gentle downward pressure to the top of the drill (the top is indented to ensure your finger will not slip) and then use the other hand to grip the collar and slide it up and down the shaft rotating the drill bit. We recommend using it with our 1mm twist drill bit for charms like these.
Mareike founded byMaraca as a little lockdown success story. Having moved from Germany to Bristol in 2016, she’s always been creative and even had a printmaking business, but just before the first UK lockdown, after having had several courses with Kim from MakeItWithKim and watching the 12 Months Of Metal tutorials, she set up her little silversmithing studio. Perfect timing really, as making her unusual jewellery was the ideal distraction.
ByMaraca jewellery is mostly made from brass and silver, and due to Mareike’s creativity and want to experiment, new lines are constantly added to her shop. She loves a good market, though, so hopes to meet lots of her lovely customers there in the future.