Changeable Bead Earrings (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This earring design is an earwire and headpin all in one.

And you can change the beads every time you wear these earrings – using a removable clear plastic earring stopper at the bottom of your beads.

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Changeable Bead Earrings – tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

If you give or sell these earrings, be sure to include a collection of beads to mix and match for creating endless unique looks!

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

These changeable bead earrings are a great style for gals of all ages – and making them would be a fun birthday party or slumber party activity!

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Supplies:

  • 2 pieces of round 20- or 21-gauge wire; it can be either half-hard or hard wire.
    Each piece of wire should be 9cm (3.54″) long.
    Use a type of wire that’s appropriate for pierced ears (see my Earring Wire Guidelines).
    I used 20 gauge half-hard copper wire.
  • 2 earring stoppers.
    These are little plastic, rubber, or silicone tubes that fit snugly onto the end of an earwire:
    Earring Stoppers for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg
    They are usually worn to keep hook-style earwires from sliding out of ear piercings.
    But in this project we’ll be using these earring stoppers to hold our beads in place on the straight end of our earwires.
    Sources of earring stoppers:
    You can get these at most jewelry suppliers – they’re often called “earring stoppers” or “earring safety backs”.
    I’ve also heard of people finding these earring stoppers in Walmart’s jewelry department.
  • Wire cutter.
  • Flat nose pliers.
  • Nylon jawed pliers, or jewelry polishing cloth, or your fingers – for straightening your cut wires.
  • Cup bur, wire rounder, or jeweler’s file for rounding and smoothing both ends of each wire.
  • Small piece of #0000 steel wool for final smoothing of the tips of your earwires.
  • Ultra-fine point Sharpie marker.
  • Beads with holes that will fit onto your wire.
  • Optional: Jeweler’s steel block (or other smooth, sturdy surface); and a plastic, rubber, or nylon hammer for hardening your finished earwires.

How to Make
Changeable Bead Earrings

First cut your 2 wires; each should be 9cm (3.54″) long:

Wires for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’ll use your nylon jawed pliers, jewelry polishing cloth, or your fingers to straighten each wire.

Hold one end of the wire firmly with your flat nose pliers, and pull the entire length of wire through the nylon jawed pliers, pulling the wire straight and tight as you do so:

Straightening wire for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your cup bur, wire rounder, or jewelry file to make each end of both wires as smooth and round as possible:

Smoothing and rounding wire ends for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your ultra-fine point Sharpie marker to mark the centerpoint of each wire:
Marking Wires for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’ll work on one of your earrings at a time.

We’ll use your Sharpie marker as a mandrel for shaping the hook of this earring.

Place your wire across the Sharpie marker.

The mark you just drew on the wire should be centered on the Sharpie:

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Place your thumb firmly on top of the mark on your wire, and use the fingers of your other hand to bend the sides of the wire smoothly straight downward:

Shaping the Hook for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this:

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your flat nose pliers to grasp one end of your wire:

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Bend the wire slightly outward at an angle. This will be the end of the earring that is inserted into your ear piercing:

Bending wire for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your earwire should look like this:

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your #0000 steel wool to do the final smoothing and polishing on the bent end of your earwire.

Make sure there are no rough spots or sharp points:

Smoothing tips of earwires for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now make your second earwire just like the first one.

Then use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a scrap of paper towel to remove the Sharpie marks from your wires.

Your earrings should now look like this:

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Optional: I recommend hammer-hardening your finished earwires, because they’ll get a lot of action as beads are added to and removed from them repeatedly.

Place one of your earwires (without the beads) on your steel jeweler’s block (or other smooth, sturdy surface).

Then use a nylon, plastic, or rubber hammer to pound one side of the earwire all over; then turn it over and thoroughly pound the other side:

Hammer hardening for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to add some beads to the earring!

Choose some beads and thread them onto the straight end of the earwire:

Stringing beads onto the wire for Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

When you have the beads strung the way you want them, gently push the clear plastic earring stopper onto the straight end of the wire, just below your beads:

Add earring stopper below beads - Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now move over to your other earring, add beads and an earring stopper to it – and you’re done!

Of course you can remove the earring stoppers and keep changing out your beads as much as you like. 🙂

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Changeable Bead Earrings - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Want to Learn How to Design
Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.

By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.

You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.

 

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  • Sheila says:

    Very clever to use the earring stoppers for interchangeable bead earrings! Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

  • Maxine says:

    I can’t believe we haven’t come up with this idea before! It’s great! I’m going to work it into my Valentine sales.

  • Tamara says:

    This is such a clever idea, Rena! I love your creativity in coming up with ideas! I also love all the beautiful colour combinations of beads you’ve used in these fun earrings.

  • Sophia in S.FL. says:

    I love this idea!! Thank you!! And thank you for a great newsletter and website!

    Sophia in S.FL.

  • Sophia in S.FL. says:

    Another thought…At the annual Florida polymer clay event; Fandango, one of the artists covered her earring stoppers with polymer clay, to match the beads, etc. in her earrings, so that may be an nice idea as well. I do like the clear stops though!

    Sophia in S.FL.

  • Thank you for your kind comments, ladies! 🙂

    And Sophia, what a neat idea to cover the earring stoppers with polyclay! That would be nicer and more fun than the plain clear ones! Thanks for your great suggestion.

  • What a simple and fun idea!

  • Laura says:

    Perfect timing! I just ordered 200 pieces of stoppers! Love this.

  • Diane says:

    By making the earring wearer able to change up the beads and their order, the wearer has a bit more ownership, artistry, and joy!

  • Valerie says:

    Great idea, I can’t wait to present these earrings.

  • Willow says:

    Thanks for another great tutorial and a wonderful idea. Earrings like these should boost anyone’s sales and/or they would make awesome gifts for friends and family!!!

  • Sharon Hamilton says:

    Thank you, this is an awesome idea!

  • Bec says:

    Awesome.

  • Pauline says:

    That’s very cool!

  • MaElena Rodriguez says:

    How absolutely and totally cool!!! What an innovative idea! I too am surprised someone hadn’t thought of this simple and great idea. But leave it to you to come up with this new twist, you are so very talented. Thank you for sharing with us these beautiful and simple to make ideas. Kudos to you and keep up the great work!

  • Judith says:

    Thanks for another great idea. Rena, this site is wonderful.

  • Marie says:

    What a nice tutorial, thank you. I love your sense for (important) details!

  • Colleen says:

    Love this simple easy way of changing the beads and look. Why is it, something so clever takes so long to figure out?! ?

  • Mimi says:

    Rena, Thank you for being so generous Sharing your projects. I have to learn so much from you. You go girl

  • Rina says:

    Yes, this is very clever and for anyone who makes their own beads (lampwork, PMC, etc…)… wow. I also love the idea of some how covering the stoppers. And I also agree, thank you so much Rena for your generosity in sharing so much with us. It’s great to be apart of your community!

  • Like many a great idea, this is so simple I’m surprised no one thought of it before. I will definitely use the ear stopper as an easy way to try out different bead combinations before trying a new design. It’s so inobtrusive that it doesn’t interfere with the look at all.

  • Thank you, Maureen! 🙂

  • Julia says:

    !! Love this Rena, thank you for sharing!

  • Mary says:

    I was looking for something just like this to utilize my many beads and gemstones. Thanks!

  • Martha Aquino says:

    Thank u for shareing tips on making earing wire . Great step by step instructions.

  • Barbara says:

    Such a fantastic idea! Can’t wait to do this with a group!

  • Mary says:

    Hi Rena
    How do I keep the pendant with one design on front and no design on back from turning around to the back side?

  • Hi Mary, thanks for asking. I haven’t had that experience myself, so I’m sorry that I don’t know of a solution for that.

  • Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial.
    I have my Mom’s set of lovely colored, plastic tear drop beads. They were part of the chain dangle earrings she often wore in the ’60’s. I do not have the findings. I had done an exhaustive internet search to no avail.
    Then BOOM! I come across your tutorial.
    I made my earrings in no time. Excellent instructions and photos. I am so excited to be able to wear my Mom’s earrings. And bonus make loads of other fun earrings to boot.
    Lisa Germanowski

  • Lisa, I’m so happy to hear that this tutorial solved your problem. And I’m smiling at the thought of your Mom’s fab 60’s beads being worn by you now! 🙂 Thank you for letting me know.

  • ROSE says:

    I’ve used those rubber backs before on my hooks and posts and they never stay on. what makes these stay on?

  • Hi Rose, thanks for asking! Possibly your earposts or earwires are a thinner gauge of wire, so the rubber backs slide off of them. You might try a thicker gauge of earposts / earwires, or see if there’s a supplier who has the rubber backs with a smaller hole. I hope this helps!

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