Sketch out your design. What shape should the earrings be? Materials available will sometimes dictate design. The size of the leaf shape earrings was determined by the size of the rectangular mica pieces being used as well as the size of the textured brass sheet available. The round earrings were too large for the mica insulator sheets so larger mica tiles/flakes were used. The design of the earrings was also determined by available tools. With the leaf shape earrings, the design was drawn on the sheet metal, an appropriate size hole was punched to obtain the curve (bonus: brass discs for another project), then the rest of the interior shape was sawn away.
Prepare the brass sheet: If a rolling mill is not available, use pre-textured sheet metal for this step. Alternatively, a perfect texture for this design can be achieved using a combination of the texture side of the Mini TruStrike Designer/Texture Hammer and the smaller of the two heads of the Mini TruStrike Embossing Hammer. Skip Step A if not using a rolling mill.
A: Cut a brass sheet larger than needed for the design of both earrings. Here, even though a 1" finished diameter is needed, each square is 1¼" to account for centering problems that may occur with the smaller inner hole. Anneal the brass sheet. Use Super Pickle (a half and half mix of pickle and hydrogen peroxide) to remove the fire scale. Rinse and dry. Place a texture tile on the brass sheet, sandwich in a manila file rolling folder (see Step 2-E), and run through the rolling mill.
B: Anneal, super pickle, rinse and dry the brass sheet. This should be done for any type of textured sheet being used. Annealed metal cuts easier in the disc cutter which helps the cutting punches last longer.
C: Use a soft lead pencil to mark the squares on the back of the textured brass sheet. This brass sheet was 2 ½" wide, so two squares fit across the width. Draw intersecting lines from corner to corner inside each square.
D: Center the crossed line X from one square in the 9/16" disc cutter opening (no larger than 5/8" or the rivets may be too large), and clamp in place. Punch out the hole.
E: Turn the brass sheet right side up. Center the smaller hole inside the 1" opening. Punch out the disc.
F: Repeat C through E with the other brass square.
G: Sand and refine the inner and outer edges of the frames. Lightly sand the tops. To give the pieces a soft brushed appearance, finish by brushing the surface with a soft Bristol brass brush. This brush is different than the stiff brass brushes you may be used to seeing. It is very soft and imparts a very nice soft brushed metal look to metal surfaces after they have been cleaned and refined. It can be used dry on brass and copper, but on nickel silver, sterling silver, Argentium silver, or fine silver it is important to use soap and water during brushing. Otherwise, some of the brass is left on the metal, leaving a yellow tinge.
H: Use a rubber or plastic mallet to flatten the brass frames on a bench block.