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Favourite earrings: lost and found and lost and…

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my favourite earrings
My favourite earrings

I’ve got a favourite pair of sterling silver earrings that I keep losing. Over and over again. They’re my favourite earrings because they go with most of my casual wardrobe, can be seen from behind my thick dark hair, and they’re comfortable. I didn’t actually make these earrings – they were my favourites from long before I ever started making jewelry. And truth be told, I don’t think I’ve quite got the skill-set to make these myself. The hinged wires would be tricky to solder without melting. And the set of 5 itty bitty rings to attach the paddles to would really test my patience. They’d also be another soldering melting risk.

Lost and found and lost again

The first time I majorly lost one of them was about 5 or 6 years ago. It  had been missing for something like 2 years. I found it in the soil when I was pulling weeds in the garden. It must have fallen out of my ear when I was gardening.

When I found it, I was so excited. I probably posted about my glee on social media. But that glee was short lived – only a few months later, I lost it again. All I can remember was, at the time, I had put them in my purse for some reason. And it shouldn’t have been hard to figure out which purse since I’m a basic no-frills woman:  90% of the time I use one of two black purses. But it was not in those purses.  I think it was about a year or two ago that I lost it this time.

So guess what happened today? That’s right, I found the earring. It magically appeared on my bedroom floor, beside a purse I had used recently – a mega huge one I only use when I’m travelling.

But, was it actually the lost earring? Or was it the mate, just making an appearance in a look-what-the-cat-dragged-in sort of way? It took me 2 hours of searching to find the mate to prove that I now had a complete set. (Does that 2 hours count as another occurrence of an earring being lost?)

It’s a tarnished mess (actually, so is the other one) but that’s no problem – I’ve got lots of silver cleaning tips. And funny thing, until I took the photo, I never noticed that the one on the left actually has 6 paddles instead of 5.

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Forged sterling flower earrings

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discs1These earrings are one of my best selling items. Dainty sterling silver flowers, completely hand made by me. I’m not sure many people are actually aware of how much work goes into making these. There are a lot of steps involved, and the first step, the shaping of the flower petals, is by far the most time consuming step. It is possible to purchase “blanks” that are already machine cut into flower shapes. But that would give me less options as far as size and number of petals. It also takes some of the fun out of it, and reduces the handmade value I hold dear.

I start with sterling silver discs (or, from sheet, which I cut into discs) and, using a small file, I notch them and shape each petal. Some petals come out a little bigger than others… that’s the nature of handmade work… and it’s also the nature of “nature”.

The flowers, domed, beside a doming punch

The discs have to be domed. Fortunately, there’s an easy tool for that! I go through various sized doming punches to get the shape that I want. There’s a hammering step before this one, where I put a bit of a texture on the petals.

 

oxidized
This is what they look like a few steps later… they’ve been cleaned up, pickled, cleaned up some more, and dipped in liver of sulfur to blacken them. The next step is to remove most of the patina, leaving a darkened look in the recesses, and an overall slightly time-worn appearance. I’ve skipped over showing you a few steps – I didn’t show you the itty bitty silver balls that I make, and solder into the centre of the flower, nor did I show you the attaching of the loop on the back to hang the flowers from earwires.

Flower earrings, in both shiny and antiqued finishesI also make these in a shiny finish, where I skip the patina, and do some extra polishing.

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My husband’s wedding ring

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My husband lost his wedding band many years ago, and had been tanning his ring finger ever since. He was never much of a ring wearer, and wasn’t particularly fond of his wedding ring because it had a flat section that was supposed to sit front and centre – but it always shifted on him. He loved the idea of a new ring made by me – as long as it wasn’t too wide, and as long as it was the same all the way around, so it wouldn’t matter if it moved around on his finger.

Badly sawn strip of metal to become the middle band

We settled on a banded ring design with a hammered, antiqued finish – something that would look best when it wasn’t all shiny and polished, because he works a lot with his hands.

I made this ring quite a while ago, when my sawing skills weren’t well practiced. Bit of a crooked line there, but I fixed that up no problem with a lot of filing and sanding.

one-done-compositeThe second photo is a composite of photos that shows the 3 components of the ring… a flat, textured band for the middle component, with 2 narrow round bands for the outer edges, along with some pictures of the process of getting one of the outer bands soldered to the middle band.

I’d never done anything like this before, so it was a challenge to get the outer bands just the right size to fit with the middle component. But a bit of textured hammering on the outer bands saved the day – metal stretches a bit when you hammer it. Plus, the texture was going to work well with the purposeful aged look of the ring.

bill-wearing-composite-desatThe other tricky part about soldering on the 2 outer bands was getting them totally centered on the middle band. Things tend to shift a bit when you’re soldering.

When the soldering steps were complete, there was a big clean-up step. Lots of polishing. It looked rather nice shiny. But of course, that wasn’t the look I was going for. The next step was to apply a liver of sulfur patina, which darkens it. Darkens the whole ring to a near black, which I then had to polish off, leaving the patina in just the nooks and crannies.

Here’s the finished ring. He loves it. And I love that he loves it.

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