Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder. Don't you just love little gemstone drops?!  They are so versatile.

Dangling Drop Earrings

by Judy Larson
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Don't you just love little gemstone drops?! They are so versatile. Of course, they work for earrings-I just had to keep the sparkly gold druzy ones for earrings for myself. But they make sweet little pendant. Used as little charms, they can add a nice pop of color to a necklace or bracelet.

And surprise! All of these little drops were made with beads, not a cabochon in the bunch! What a cost saver using beads can be.

Materials

28 Gauge 3/16" Fine Silver Bezel Wire
H9-28BZL
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $9.77
  • Gold Club Price: $7.33
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24 Gauge Dead Soft Argentium Silver Sheet - 6 Inches
H19-24SM6
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1 Inch
  • Price: $37.29
  • Gold Club Price: $27.97
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20 or 22 gauge 2mm ID Argentium jump rings
  • Lesson Quantity: 2.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 2.00 each
18 Gauge Half Round Half Hard Argentium .940 Silver Wire
H19-18HRH
  • Lesson Quantity: 2.00 inches
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $2.74
  • Gold Club Price: $2.06
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18 gauge 2.5mm ID jump rings
  • Lesson Quantity: 4.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
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Tools

Steel Hoop Mandrel
MAN-214.00
  • MAN-214.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $28.97
  • Gold Club Price: $21.73
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Blazer MT 3000 Hot Shot Butane Torch, Red
TRCH-3004
  • TRCH-3004
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $34.95
  • Gold Club Price: $26.21
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Silver Solder Paste Medium SS70 - 1/4 T.O.
SOL-822.15
  • SOL-822.15
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $18.95
  • Gold Club Price: $14.21
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WireJewelry 9 Inch Rotating Turntable with Fire Brick
G32-9910
  • G32-9910
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $39.95
  • Gold Club Price: $29.96
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Xuron Sheer - Non Serrated
SHR-691.81
  • SHR-691.81
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $24.95
  • Gold Club Price: $18.71
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6 Step Barrel Plier - Pack of 1
G2-503
  • G2-503
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $14.95
  • Gold Club Price: $11.21
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Steel and Rubber Bench Block 4x4 Inches
G17-44
  • G17-44
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $29.95
  • Gold Club Price: $22.46
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WET/DRY PAPER 9 X 11 ASST- 20PC- 2EA GRIT 180-3000
ABR-500.90
  • ABR-500.90
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $24.95
  • Gold Club Price: $18.71
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Euro Tool Metal Hole Punch Pliers, 1.8 Millimeters
PLR-133.50
  • PLR-133.50
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $11.98
  • Gold Club Price: $8.98
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Pickle Pot, 16 Ounces
CLN-584.00
  • CLN-584.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $31.95
  • Gold Club Price: $23.96
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NATURE'S TOUCH CITRIC PICKLE, 2LB PLASTIC JAR
CLN-163.00
  • CLN-163.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $17.95
  • Gold Club Price: $13.46
Out of Stock
Thumlers Tumbler Model MP-1 Rock Tumbler Kit
G34-101
  • G34-101
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $119.11
  • Gold Club Price: $89.33
Out of Stock
Stainless Steel Shot--Premium Jewelers Mix - 2 Pounds
TUM-125.02
  • TUM-125.02
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $67.95
  • Gold Club Price: $50.96
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Instructions
Step 1
Read through the tutorial before starting the project. Follow all safety precautions pertaining to the tools and supplies being used and the space you are working in.

Choose the stones you wish to use. Stone sizes used here: 12mm eye of shiva; 12mm round and square druzy; 11mm flat puffed round crazy lace agate; 12mm-13mm puffed square crazy lace agate. When choosing the beads, they should not be too thick for the bezel material.

The holes should also be able to be covered with the bezel. An eight-inch strand will yield several sets of beads that match very well which can be used for earrings. The others will make fabulous pendants and charms.

Pro Tip: Beads are not really calibrated and can each be slightly different in size. To avoid putting a bead/cabochon in the wrong bezel, put a small piece of painter's tape on the back of each bead. Number each bead. It is also helpful to draw an arrow toward the bezel seam, especially when using non-circular stones.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 2
Measure the stones and cut the backing material. The backing material can be 22, 24, or 26 gauge sheet metal. Which gauge is chosen depends upon the bead or cabochon chosen.

If the back of the bead is not flat and/or will not sit flush on the backing, or is larger than those used here, a heavier gauge may be preferable. Since earrings do not get a lot of heavy use, such as bracelets, and even pendants, a safe bet is to use 24 gauge sheet.

To gauge the size to be cut, lay out all the parts and then measure the full length and width of what the finished piece will be. Add ¼" to the length and width.
Pro Tip: Thinking ahead can save time and work later. The squares used here are larger than needed because the triangle corners were needed to make leaves for another project.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 3
Cut two pieces of 18 gauge round Argentium wire ½" long and eight pieces 3/16" long.

Place the wires on a soldering surface and heat until each forms a ball.

When they are cool, remove from the soldering surface and clean the solder board residue from their backs.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 4
Make a bezel for each bead. Never assume that a bezel made for one bead will fit the other bead chosen to make up the pair.

The druzy beads have bezel edges, meaning the sides are straight up and down, making it relatively easy to form bezel wire around. The round puffed beads are more difficult to wrap a bezel wire around. A solution to that problem is to wrap the bezel wire around a mandrel of the same size.

See "Basic Bezel Wire How To" for directions to make bezels, how to form them to the sides and top of the stone, and how to set the stones. The bezels for the druzy stones must fit perfectly and be cut to height because the top bezel edge is not pressed over the top of the stone.

Making the ends of the bezels meet perfectly usually means that the bezels will be misshapen and will need reshaping after they after they are cool.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 5
Mark the bottom edge of each bezel with a RED Sharpie Marker-black is much harder to see at the end of the sanding process.

Sand the bezel bottoms in a figure 8 motion on 320 grit sandpaper on a bench block. When the red marker is gone, the bezels will sit flush on the sheet metal backing.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 6
Sometimes when pairing up beads, they will not be the same thickness. In that case, the thinner bead can be raised in the bezel to match the thicker one.

Add a scrap of silver to the bottom of the bezel until the bead has been raised enough and solder in place along with the bezel and embellishments. An alternative would be to cut pieces of various thicknesses of plastic from disposable food containers.

Stack them inside the bezel until the desired height is reached. These can then be put in place after the bezel is made and before the bead is set.
Pro Tip: Before the parts for each earring component are soldered together, scratch the bead number inside the backplate.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 7
Put the backplate on a soldering surface.

Place medium paste solder along the inside bottom edge of each bezel.

Press the bezel into place on the backplate. The bezel seam will be less noticeable if placed facing what will be the bottom of the earring when it hangs on the ear.
Pro Tip: The squares were oriented as diamonds to disguise the fact that they were not perfectly square.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 8
Place a dot of medium paste solder on the backplate at the top of each bezel.

Press a closed 2mm 20 or 22 gauge 2mm ID jump ring into the paste solder.

Push the jump ring towards the bezel so the two touch each other.

Place a dot of medium paste solder on the opposite side of the bezel, directly across from the jump ring.

Press a ½" ball into the paste solder. Push the ball towards the bezel so the two touch each other.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 9
Place a dot of medium paste solder on either side of the jump ring.

Press a 3/16" ball into the solder on each side of the jump ring.

The balls should touch the bezel as well as the jump ring.

Place a dot of medium paste solder on either side of the ½" ball.

Press a 3/16" ball into the solder on each side of the ½" ball. The balls should touch the ½" ball as well as the bezel.

Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 10
Heat around each unit until the solder flows.

The two pieces on the right side of the solder brick have been soldered.

Notice how messy the solder flow is. I was not worried about that because the backing on these earrings was to be cut and filed completely away. The remaining background will be made into roller printed and/or chisel stamped leaves for other projects. The solder flow will not interfere with the shape and size of the leaves made.

Allow the pieces to cool naturally on the soldering surface.
Pro Tip: Speed cooling by transferring the earrings to a bench block, which will quickly pull the remaining heat out of each piece.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 11
Pickle, rinse, and dry each piece.
Step 12
Cut away excess sheet metal using a saw or Lindstrom shears.

A saw will cut away excess metal more accurately than with shears, meaning less edge cleanup.

You may want to leave a frame of sheet metal around the pieces, so be mindful of that when cutting. Here, a clean edge was desired. Just a small bit of metal was left to be filed away.

Yes, it is a bit of extra work. However, cutting too close to the bezel risks cutting some of the bezel away, thinning an already thin piece of metal and thereby weakening it.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 13
Mark, file/sand the bezel top even in the same manner as Step 5.
Step 14
File and sand each unit to refine the shape.

When the first rough filing and cleanup of the edges is done, use a 1.8mm hole punch to make holes inside the jump rings at the top of each bezel.

Save those little punched out pieces for embellishments.

The recently made Eye of Shiva bracelet links did not feel finished. The little dots added just the right touch. It is funny how something so little can make such a big difference.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 15
Finish the cleanup and refining of each bezel to your liking.

How the finished pieces will be used will determine how much work is put into refining and polishing the surface of each bezel. Normal wear and tear puts dings and scratches on all my jewelry so mirror polishing is left to be done to really special/important pieces.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 16
Tumble the bezels for several hours to bring up a shine.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 17
Patina the bezels if desired. Patina will help highlight the design elements of the bezels.
Step 18
Using 0000 steel wool or very fine sanding pads, remove excess patina from the raised areas and backs of the bezels. Do not worry about the bezel interiors.

Note: The bezels with the gold druzy stones were not patinated for two reasons: A-the polished brightness looks nice with the druzy sparkle which does not show up well in photos, and B-the druzy beads are slightly translucent so if the inside of the bezel is dark, some of that darkness will show through the druzy beads.
Step 19
Steel wool or very fine sanding pads leaves a beautiful satin finish on the metal. If more of a shine is desired, tumble the pieces again for 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 20
Bezel set the beads in their corresponding bezels.
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Step 21
It can be difficult to decide how to use these fabulous little drops!
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels
Judy Larson's Dangling Drop Earrings - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, assembly line bezels