Friday, April 12, 2013

Single earring project #2

This is week two in my month long series of making jewelry using vintage single earrings.  As promised, here is your second tutorial on how to incorporate vintage single earrings in your jewelry designs.  And this week's project is VERY EASY to do!!!  Perfect for beginnners!  I will admit, there are some potential frustrations that you can run into when doing this project.  But fortunately for you, I have done all the trial and error over the years and worked out all the kinks.  So all you have to do is carefully follow my tips to avoid running in to any problems.
Last week, I showed you how to make a necklace.  There will be more necklaces to come, but I thought I would change it up and do a bracelet this week.  Some people like to make these kinds of bracelets using vintage earrings that are all different colors and they usually turn out really cute.  If you don't have a large collection of vintage earrings, it may be difficult at first to get enough earrings that are all the same color, so feel free to use an assortment of colors.  I decided today that I was going to color coordinate and use only earrings that have black & clear colors. 
(Below) April's project #2, bracelet made from vintage single earrings
Here's your IMPORTANT TIP # 1 for avoiding headaches with this project - try to use only earrings that have very flat backs that will glue easily to another flat surface.  I use the strongest glue I can find, a two-part epoxy, but you still run the risk of loosing one or more of your earrings if you try to use earrings with curved or un-even backs.  Make sure there is a large enough flat surface on the back of your earring, and you will be in good shape.
And now, IMPORTANT TIP # 2!  Some people have a hard time finding the bracelet blanks like I use in this project.  My bracelet findings are made of six flat oval pads, linked together.  The bracelet findings I use are vintage and I was lucky to find a large quantity of them many years ago.  You can still find them for sale on Etsy.  The current going price per bracelet finding is about $3.50.  Below are a couple of links to sellers on Etsy who have the same kind of bracelet finding that I use.  They sell them in lots of 10.
And lastly, IMPORTANT TIP #3! Make sure you work in a well ventilated area (I open my window in my studio) and cover your work surface with something you don't mind throwing away. You can use a cheap piece of cardboard, some newspaper, or like I used, a brown paper grocery bag that I cut open. When working with epoxy, you are very likely to destroy whatever surface you work on, so cover it with something disposable.   Have plenty of paper towels handy, because this gets messy.  Also you might want to work with rubber gloves on if you don't like getting glue all over your fingers.  
The photo below shows you the materials and tools you will need.  The glue I use is 5 minute two-part epoxy that you can find at the hardware store or sometimes at Michael's arts and crafts stores.  There is a more detailed list of all the materials and tools at the end of today's post. 
(Below)  First step is to remove the mechanisms from the backs of your earrings.  As you can see I worked with both clip-on earrings and screw-back earrings.
(Below) Using a good pair of metal cutters, start clipping off the mechanisms from your earrings.  Do this very slowly and carefully.  You may want to wear safety goggles during this step in case any pieces of metal fly upward.  If there are any jagged surfaces after you cut off your metal, use a jeweler's file to smooth it down.
(Below) Your goal is to get the backs of your earrings as flat as possible.  These two worked out really well.  Continue working on the rest of your earrings.  You will need a total of 6 single earrings.
(Below) The next step requires you to work quickly!  5 minute epoxy starts to harden very quickly, so work as fast as you can.  Once you start to mix your epoxy, a chemical reaction takes place that causes it to harden.  Because you don't want to let too much go to waste (if it hardens before you get to use it all), mix just small batches of the epoxy.  I had to mix two separate batches of epoxy to finish my bracelet.  Find something disposable to mix your epoxy in.  I buy in bulk these paper food service trays (like what your food truck french fries are served in) at Smart & Final for mixing things like epoxy and paint.   But you could also use a regular paper plate/bowl.  You will also need something disposable, like a popsicle stick, for mixing and applying your epoxy.  Follow the directions on the package of your epoxy and mix equal parts together with your popsicle stick.   Once your epoxy is mixed well, use your popsicle stick to put a good blob of epoxy on to one of the flat ovals of your bracelet finding and then put on your first earring. 
(Below)  Work on gluing one earring on at a time, making sure you have it centered properly on to the oval blank.  If the epoxy in your tray starts to harden after you finish just a couple of earrings, don't worry.  Mix a new batch and keep working until all 6 are glued.  Even though I've used a "5 minute" epoxy, I always let my projects dry overnight before I attempt to wear them.

And that's it!! Easy, right? Because these bracelet findings come with clasps already attached, there's nothing left to do.   

To make a similar bracelet, here is a detailed list of the materials and tools you will need.
  • vintage single earrings with a nice flat surface on the back, well-suited for gluing (quantity of 6)
  • metal bracelet blank with 6 flat pads linked together (available on
  • 5 minute, two-part epoxy (available at hardware stores or Michael's arts & craft stores)
  • disposable paper tray, plate, or bowl
  • popsicle stick
  • newspaper, paper bag, or cardboard to cover your work surface
  • paper towels
  • disposable rubber gloves (optional)
  • metal cutters
  • jeweler's file
  • safety glasses (optional)

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