Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The theme for April

The month of April will be single earring month here on my blog!  Huh?  What?  Let me explain.  Each week in April I will show you a new technique for incorporating vintage single earrings into your jewelry designs.  I will provide you with five different tutorials for five fabulous designs involving the upcycling of single earrings!
Back before I was a jewelry designer, I was an antiques & collectibles dealer.  I would hit all the local flea markets, estate sales and garage sales, looking for old things to buy & resell.  One of the things I loved to buy and resell was antique costume jewelry.  I remember how I excited I became when I spied a box of old costume jewelry to dig through.  Very often I would see a gorgeous sparkly earring missing it's mate.  I would dig and dig and keep my fingers crossed that somewhere in that box was the matching earring.  If I didn't find the matching piece, it was so disappointing!!  In my early days as an antiques dealer I would never buy just a single earring without it's mate. 
Then, I began learning how to repair old costume jewelry.  I got smart and started buying up "as is" jewelry for parts.  Having a bin of miscellaneous vintage parts and pieces from old costume jewelry became a great thing!  I always referred to it as my "bone yard".  I would fix brooches that had missing rhinestones, or bracelets with broken clasps, and I would dig through my bone yard and hope to find the exact rhinestone, clasp, or other part that I needed.  I no longer passed on beautiful single earrings.  If they were cheap, I'd buy them.  Then I noticed that a few of my customers started asking me if I had any single earrings for sale.  I learned that some of my customers were crafting with them and always kept that in the back of my mind.
Years later when I decided I would give jewelry-making a try, I was so glad that I had a large "bone yard" filled with rare vintage parts & pieces.  As I began to incorporate vintage components into my jewelry designs, I would always look at my box of beautiful old single earrings and think that I must someday find a great way to repurpose them. 
Below is a necklace I created using a vintage lavendar floral clip-on earring from the 1950's.  You can easily turn a pretty single earring into a focal piece in a necklace design.  Read on for the full instructions on how I made this necklace.
(Note:  Detailed list of materials and tools needed is at the bottom of today's post)
 (Above) The first thing I did was gather materials that complemented my vintage flower earring.   I chose some fun vintage beaded trim with clear glass beads, a faceted aurora borealis crystal drop, some cord ends, a lobster clasp, extender chain, and jump rings. 
 (Above) I flipped over my vintage flower earring and snipped off the clip mechanism with my metal cutters.  I used my jeweler's file to smooth the rough edges of the metal.
 (Above) I took my 18" piece of beaded trim and used a ruler to determine the halfway point.  I made a small mark on the trim with a pen.
 (Above) I threaded some white nylon beading thread on to a needle.  I triple knotted the ends of the thread and added G-S Hypo Cement glue over the knot.  I ran the thread through the beaded trim where I had marked it.  I began sewing my earring to the trim by weaving in and out of the holes in the metal on the back of the earring.  
 (Above)  When I finished sewing my earring to the trim, I made a triple knot and applied glue over the knot.  I trimmed the excess thread.
 (Above) Now it was time to attach the faceted crystal drop.  I carefully opened the pinch bail at the  top of the crystal and removed it.
 (Above) I slipped the pinch bail through one of the metal petals on the back of the flower earring. 
 (Above) I reattached the bail to the crystal drop using my pliers.
 (Above) Now to work on the ends of my beaded trim.  I put a dab of 527 glue on the inside of a cord end finding. 
 (Above) I inserted one of the ends of my beaded trim and pressed it down.  Using my chain nose pliers I pinched closed both sides of the cord end finding.  Using scissors, I cut off the excess trim.
 (Above) I repeated the process on the other end of my beaded trim.
 (Above) I attached a lobster clasp to the loop in one of the cord ends with a jump ring.  I then attached some extender chain to the other cord end with a jump ring. 
(Above) And that's it!!  It's finished!! 
If you would like to make a similar necklace, here's a list of the materials and tools you will need.
  • 18" of vintage beaded trim
  • Vintage single earring that has a place for you to hang a pinch bail (the earring I chose was about 1-1/2"). 
  • Faceted crystal drop with pinch bail (the crystal I chose was about 32mm long with an 8mm pinch bail)
  • Fold-over cord ends (2)
  • 5mm jump rings (2)
  • Lobster clasp
  • Piece of chain to use as an extender (my piece was about 3" long)
  • White nylon beading thread
  • G-S Hypo Cement glue
  • Beacon 527 glue
  • Pen
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Metal cutters
  • Jeweler's file
  • Needle
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Scissors

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