Daily Tip July 2: Making Matching Freeform Earrings

By on July 1, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
July 2, 2010

Question:

I have been doing some freeform wired earrings lately. I have tons of fun with the first one and always agonize over getting the second one to match! Is that just the nature of the beast when doing freeform work, or is there a trick I’m not aware of? Also, is 20-gauge the best for earring wires?

-Val in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin

Answer:

Making your own ear wires is an important skill for wire artists to have–and if you’re having an “uninspired” day, you can just make a large batch of ear wires in the metals you work with, and definitely still count that as a work day! So, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Freeform means “an asymmetrical shape or design, not conforming to conventional rules of composition,” so by definition, a “freeform pair” is not going to match perfectly. If the two forms did, they would no longer be freeform, but symmetrical.

The best way I know to make earrings match, is to make them both at the same time, performing one or two steps on one and then on the other, progressing until they are finished. Yes, freeform earrings are more difficult to match; however that is the beauty of freeform style! It is a challenge to your skills, especially if you are making mirror images (one left and one right). If the earrings are labeled freeform, it should be a notice to the customer that they will not match. Besides, earrings are worn on different sides of one’s head, so they are not both fully seen at the same time.

As far as the gauge of wire used to make ear wires, it totally up to both you and your customer. Most traditional wire jewelry designers use 21-gauge. You could make pairs in both 20 and 21-gauge and give your customer the choice, as some may have larger ear piercings than others.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    July 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Val, fellow Wisconsinite! When working with ear rings I always follow Dale’s advise “do one or two steps on the first ear ring then repeat those on the second ear ring”. I tend to reverse things easily when I do not follow Dale’s simply rule. Good luck!

  2. avatar

    Alex

    July 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

    For a long time I bought cheap ear wires at local chain craft shops, but would get embarrassed when they invariably broke and my customer lost an earring. I would always replace it, which cost me way more than the earwire.
    Now, I use a cute little gadget called an EZ Earring Earwire Jig. It is not too expensive, and I can custom make earwires that match out of Sterling, Gold Filled or Copper. Hopefully, Wire Sculpture can carry them. There are many other jigs out there, but this one makes nice ones. I know it is not “free form”, but it is close enough for me, who does free form almost exclusively, mostly using jigs for only this, and making figure 8 loops.

  3. avatar

    Kathy

    July 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Thanks, Dale, for telling us to use 21ga for earwires, I was never sure & used both 20 & 21. Guess that’s why some customers complained.

  4. avatar

    Cynthia Callard

    July 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

    If you really need/want to have both earrings matching try using a jig with removable pins to bend/form your wire over. They are sold under various names in various sizes but wig jig seems to be popular. This is a worth while investment and you should be able to obtain one at your bead station or order it over the internet.
    It also helps with intricate shapes for base wire bending. Not free form unless you make it so.
    Good luck.

  5. avatar

    Cindy Sue Causey

    July 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

    While playing over at Etsy, I’ve looked at what people have bought along the way.. Even very simple earrings that could easily be symmetrical but definitely are not still sell.. Upon first noticing, immediately came to Mind that being visually asymmetrical lets people know they really are buying handmade.. :D

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