by Rena Klingenberg.
We’re going to make a rustic pair of earrings that combine art plus patina, in this two-part project.
Here in Part 1 of this two-part tutorial, we’ll create a pair of earring blanks from a piece of sheet metal.
Then, in Part 2, we’ll embellish the surface of our earring blanks with an easy, homemade patina resist process:
So let’s get started making our brass or copper earring blanks – and when they’re ready, we’ll hop over to Part 2 and have fun with the patina resist design!
- A small piece of copper or brass sheet, 22 or 24 gauge, large enough for the earrings you’ll be cutting out of this metal.
Most jewelry suppliers that carry metalworking stuff carry sheet metal. I got mine online from Monsterslayer.com.
(If you’ll be doing Part 2 of this tutorial to add the patina embellishment to your earrings, make sure your copper or brass has NOT been varnished. Many craft-store and hardware-store metals have been varnished).
- Sharpie marker for tracing your earring design on the metal.
- Jeweler’s saw, tin snips, or heavy-duty utility scissors (you can get the snips or scissors pretty inexpensively at a hardware or home improvement store).
I used utility scissors – here’s what mine look like:
- #0000 steel wool – a small piece.
- Plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer and jeweler’s steel block for flattening and work-hardening your metal after cutting.
- 2 jump rings, large enough to fit through the loop at the top of your earrings.
- A pair of earwires.
- Flat nose or chain nose pliers for opening and closing jump rings.
How to Make the
Sheet Metal Earring Blanks:
First, draw and cut out a paper pattern for your metal earring shapes.
Below are two examples of ones I’ve used.
The teardrop measures 37mm high x 20mm wide, plus a stem that’s 15mm high x 4mm wide. (The stem will be rolled up to form the top loop of the earring.)
The rectangle measures 38mm high x 15mm wide, plus a stem that’s 15mm high x 4mm wide:
Now get out your sheet metal – it can even be scrap metal.
CAUTION: Sheet metal has very sharp edges and corners. Handle it with extreme care, and keep it away from curious children and pets!
Then use a Sharpie marker to draw around your paper pattern twice on the metal:
I’ll be cutting out teardrop earrings from the copper and rectangles from the brass:
Use your jeweler’s saw, tin snips, or utility scissors to cut out your earrings.
Cut carefully, so you don’t accidentally snip off the long thin stem at the top of your earrings (it’s as tragic as snipping off the tabs on paper doll clothes!).
My scissors have a serrated edge that leaves a sort of notched pattern on one side the cut metal. Because I’m going for a rustic look with these earrings, I’m just leaving that rugged edge as is.
Here are the earring shapes I’ve just cut out:
Now we’ll use a piece of #0000 steel wool to smooth every edge and corner of our earrings, so there’s nothing sharp anywhere:
Use your plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer and jeweler’s steel block to flatten and work-harden each of your earrings:
Now it’s time to turn the stem on your earrings into the loop at the top.
So about midway down the jaws of your round nose pliers, grasp the very end of your earring stem:
Roll it up neatly into a loop:
Here’s a side view of the loop. (You can also see my rustic notched edges created by my funky scissors):
Here are the rectangles and teardrops with their loops finished:
Now we need to step over to Part 2 – Patina Resist with Ammonia and Sharpie Pen to add the patina resist design to our metal:
Then we’ll come back here to finish up the earrings.
So when our patina process is completed, we’ll twist our jump rings open:
. . . and thread them through the loops of our earrings:
. . . and then add our earwires, and twist the jump rings closed.
Here are the finished Patina Picture Earrings:
I’d love to see how yours turn out!
This creative earring project is especially fun if you’re part jewelry artist, part mad scientist!