Changeable Spiral Earwires (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
Changeable earwires are a popular style because of their versatility.
You can wear them as-is, with no dangles:
Or with dangles such as wire wrapped briolettes or these vintage chandelier crystals:
Or with metal dangles:
Or small charms:
There’s no limit to how you can style these earrings.
You can build an earring wardrobe around changeable earwires like these, with a collection of dangle elements to wear on them!
For Metal-Sensitivity People:
This is a great design for a person who can wear pierced earrings only with expensive wire types (such as niobium or 14k gf).
You can make a single pair of these spiral earwires for this person, and they can create a variety of different earring looks – by investing in just one pair of pricey earwires.
- 2 pieces of soft round 20 or 21 gauge wire, each 110mm (4.33″) long.
I used 20 gauge soft copper wire.
- Sharpie pen – for marking your wire.
- Ruler – for measuring where to mark your wire.
- Wire cutter.
- Wire rounder or cup bur – for rounding and smoothing wire ends.
- Round nose pliers.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Chain nose pliers.
- (Optional): A pair of beads, charms, briolettes, etc. to dangle from the bottom of the spiral earwires.
- (Optional): Jump rings for attaching any beads, charms, briolettes, etc. to the earwires.
- (Optional): Jeweler’s steel block and nylon, rubber, or plastic hammer – for flattening and hardening your earwires.
- (Optional): Small piece of #0000 steel wool – for final smoothing of the earwire end that will be inserted in the ear piercing.
How to Make Changeable Spiral Earwires
Start by cutting two pieces of wire, each 110mm (4.33″) long.
Then use your ruler and Sharpie pen to make two marks on your wire, dividing the wire into 3 segments – 65mm (2.56″), 20mm (0.79″), and 25mm (1″).
Here’s how to mark each of your wires; the blue lines show where to make your marks:
The 65mm segment of each wire is for making the wire spiral.
The 20mm and 25mm segments of each wire are for making the earwire hook.
Your wires should look like this:
Now use a cup bur / wire rounder to smooth and round the ends of your wire.
It’s particularly important to smooth and round the 25mm wire end, because that’s the end that will be inserted through the ear piercing when the earwire is finished:
Now we’ll make one earring at a time.
So set out one of your wires and your round nose pliers.
The first step is to make an open wire spiral with the 65mm segment of the wire.
New to Making Wire Spirals?
If you’re new to making open spirals, or have had trouble with them in the past, see my easy 3-minute video, How to Make an Open Wire Spiral.
You may want to practice making a few spirals before creating your Changeable Spiral Earwires.
Near the tips of your round nose pliers, grasp the 65mm end of your wire:
Wrap the wire end halfway around one jaw of your pliers, making a small hook in the wire.
This hook will become the center of the spiral.
Now your wire should look like this:
Keep growing the spiral by moving your pliers along the wire, making a small curve each time you move the pliers:
. . . and keep on going until your pliers reach the Sharpie mark at the end of the 65mm wire segment:
So your wire should look something like this:
Optional: use a jeweler’s steel block and nylon, rubber, or plastic hammer to flatten and harden your earwires:
Now it’s time to create the earwire end of the earring.
Use the tips of your chain nose pliers to grasp your wire, right next to the Sharpie mark that signals the end of the 65mm wire segment:
Bend the straight wire end at a 90-degree angle, so that it points sharply away from the wire spiral:
Your wire should look like this:
Now we’ll shape the hook.
Using the widest part of your round nose pliers, grasp the straight wire end, right on the Sharpie mark that divides the 20mm wire segment from the 25mm wire segment:
Use your fingers to press both wire ends straight downward, creating a smooth curve at the top of the earwire:
Using the tips of your flat nose pliers, grasp the tip of the straight wire end.
Then bend the wire tip at a slight angle, like this:
Your first earwire is finished, and it should look something like this:
Now make the second earwire the same way you made the first one.
You can use a small piece of #0000 steel wool for final smoothing of the earwire ends that will be inserted in the wearer’s ear piercings.
Also you can remove the Sharpie marks from your wires by using a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a scrap of paper towel.
To add a dangle to the earwire, slide the dangle’s loop or jump ring onto the end of the earwire.
Keep sliding the dangle – up over the top of the earwire hook:
. . . and down the outermost side of the spiral, and finally to the bottom of the earwire:
Your finished Changeable Spiral Earwires may look something like this: