Think You Can't Make Your Own Ear Wires?

Dec 16, 2013

A few days ago, a friend of mine was telling me that she just could not figure out how to make wire jewelry. She said that the wire just would not behave for her, and she didn't know what to do about it. Now, this friend also happens to be a very talented bead-weaver. She has an uncanny knack for putting together color palettes to match a focal bead, and her technique is pretty much flawless. She's such a gifted bead artist, I didn't want her to feel like wire jewelry designs would beat her, so I suggested she try to make something simple: ear wires!

Ear wires really are fool proof if you're just learning how to make wire jewelry. Before I learned how to make my own ear wires, I always thought that I'd never advance past making simple loops and wrapped loops with wire. But you can make your own ear wires with whatever you happen to have handy, even if all you have are a few 2-3" head pins!

The basic wire jewelry skills you master when creating your own ear wires can easily be translated into other wire jewelry patterns. And because you'll feel more confident with your jewelry making tools, you'll want to start working on more advanced wire jewelry projects. Sure, there are machines and tools out there that can make perfect ear wires for you every time, but if you're a beginner to wire jewelry designs, I would recommend learning how to make your ear wires by hand so that you get more practice in the manipulation of wire and the use of wire tools.

Want to make your own ear wires by hand in just four simple steps?

Making Ear Wires Step 1 1. Cut your wire. Using your flush cutters (you should already have a good pair of flush cutters in your collection of beading tools), cut a piece of wire about 2-3" long. Make sure you use the flat end of the flush cutters so that you have two flat ends on your wire. You can use a head pin to make an ear wire by nipping off the flat pad on the bottom.
Making Ear Wires Step 2 2. Make a simple loop. (Or a wrapped loop.) Depending on what you want to do with your ear wire, you can make either a simple loop or a wrapped loop at the bottom. If you want consistent loops for a pair of ear wires, you can either mark the jaws of your pliers with a permanent marker, or you can use a looping pliers, like my favorite pair from Wubbers.
Making Ear Wires Step 3 3. Bend the wire into a hook. For this step, I recommend you use something as a mandrel to get a perfectly round shape. My favorite tool for making ear wires? A thick permanent marker. They're inexpensive, I always have about a dozen of them sitting in my desk drawer, and they're portable. I really couldn't ask for a better wire jewelry tool!
Making Ear Wires Step 4 4. Trim the wire and file the end. After you've bent the wire over the marker to make your loop, trim the end to shorten it a bit, and just give it a gentle bend with your fingers to make that classic ear wire shape. Because you'll be inserting these into an ear lobe, I always recommend filing that newly trimmed end with a cup file or even with a piece of regular sandpaper. I found my cup file at my local big box craft store for around $10, and it's proven itself to be a worthwhile investment.

A few finishing tips for your ear wires:

  • For making ear wires, 20 gauge wire is usually your best bet. If you can, try using half-hard wire instead of dead soft.
  • Feeling motivated? Try using the flat side of your chasing hammer (if you have one) to flatten the hook shape of your ear wire for a more professional-looking finish.

Like anything worth learning, your ear wires will get more uniform and prettier with practice. Experiment with colored wire or with adding beads and embellishments to your handmade ear wires, and you might find yourself wanting to learn new wire jewelry making ideas!

Wire Jewelry Necklace
Now, do you want to see just how easy it is to make wire jewelry using the same skills that you've been practicing when making your own ear wires? Check out Easy Wire 2012, from the editors of Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. You'll find dozens of easy (really, easy!) wire jewelry patterns that you can make right now! Best of all, Easy Wire 2012 is on sale for $3.99 for a limited time, and it makes a perfect holiday gift for the wire jewelry lover in your life. Check out this and all the great savings going on right now in the Beading Daily Shop!

Do you remember if there was one particular wire jewelry project that got you hooked on wire? Was it ear wires? Chain maille? Something else? Do you have a recommendation for someone who is just starting with wire jewelry? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your favorite easy wire jewelry projects with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

Ann T2 wrote
on Dec 16, 2013 1:23 PM

One tip is to make two ear wires at the same time, holding the two pieces of wire together, so they come out identical. This may work less well when using the marker for the large curve. since it's tapered and slightly slippery. Using a constant-diameter cylinder, such as a small dowel, may give a better result when doing two at a time.

Tanglefoot wrote
on Dec 21, 2013 1:34 PM

If using a headpin, leave the ball/pad end on and curl that end up and out, tightly but not quite closed. Make the hook end as above. Then you can thread a jump ring/bead etc on, as far as the headpin ball/pad end. If you have a selection of beads on jump rings, you can swap them as often as you wish!

Tami K. wrote
on Dec 21, 2013 5:25 PM

I always get excited to find new tips for making my own ear wires.  But the tutorials don't really discuss the types of wires that can be used.  I would make more of my own ear wires for my "for sale" items if I was confident that I could use some of the silver plated craft wires that are available.  It would be nice to have some type of review of copper wire, filled and plated wires as well as the sterling types (dead soft, half hard, etc.).

wvsuzanne wrote
on Jan 1, 2014 6:32 PM

I have metal allergies and I know others do, also. I wonder if there is a type of wire like surgical steel that can be used.