Experiment: Pearl Nests from “101 Wire Earrings: Step-by-Step Projects & Techniques”
Author: Denise Peck
Price: $11.57 for book
I was excited about making these earrings because I have looked at them many, many times and thought, “I love that design!” But I just didn’t “get my butt in the chair” as Alison Lee always encourages us to do on Craftcast.
24g Fine silver wire (because I chose to make my headpins)
20g Fine silver wire (because I also chose to make my earwires)
Keishi Pearls 8-9mm (larger than recommended but what I had on hand)
Matched set of 2 Boro Glass Beads made by Kimberly Branch
4 Sterling Silver Daisy Spacer Beads – I only had “antiqued” in this style
Blazer Butane Micro-Torch (optional)
Solderite board (optional)
Heat Resistant Tweezers (optional)
Pickle in a small crockpot (optional)
Water in a small plastic bowl (for quenching) (optional)
Round nose pliers
Chain nose fliers
Nylon head pliers
Rawhide mallet (optional)
Nylon block (optional)
Lortone Tumbler (optional)
Stainless Steel Shot – mine is the mixed shape shot (optional)
Dawn dish washing liquid – Original scent blue (optional)
I’ll admit it. I made this experiment a lot more work that it needed to be. If you purchase headpins, earwires, and daisy spacer beads without a patina, you’ll save yourself a lot of time. I was in a mood to work with my hands though, so that’s what I did. I made 20 balled end headpins (18- 24g and 2- 20g) and two balled end earwires. The experiment did not include some details that I think were important. For instance, how long should the headpins be? It just said, “Headpins”. So I made mine about 1 3/4″ long.
I tried to harden the earwires by placing them on a nylon block and hitting the ear end with a rawhide mallet. That was a mistake. That top piece flattened right out. I don’t mind a little flattening but I was not happy with the degree of it on these. I should have just tumbled them and then tried flattening the ear end. Lesson learned.
I also had to remove the “antique” patina from my daisy spacers since the finished earring was not going to be oxidized. I did that by heating them with the torch and pickling them for about 10 minutes. The patina was magically erased.
I then put the headpins, earwires, and daisy spacers in the tumbler to harden them. I had some anxiety about this because I’ve read horror stories about headpins getting all twisted in the tumbler. I let it run for 15 minutes and opened it to see if that was happening. They looked perfect so I tumbled them for a total of 90 minutes. They came out straight and fairly hardened for fine silver. I’m not sure if they twist if you have other objects in the tumbler or mine not twisting was a fluke?
I did all the wire wraps and assembled the earrings. No matter what I did, the top layer of pearls didn’t want to sit right. There always seemed to be a hole or bare spot. In the photo above, you can see that the earring on the left appears to only have one layer of pearls because of this. I wonder if it’s because the first layer has an odd number and the second had an even number? Or maybe my slightly larger than recommended pearls were the cause? If I were to make these again, I’d add one more pearl to each earring to try to fill in that gap.
These earrings are a lovely design but I was not entirely happy with the results. They are really heavy. Comfort with earrings is relative so it may not be an issue for you. But I could not wear these all day without pain. A suggested option in the experiment is to use large pearls instead of the glass Boro beads. That seemed like it might be a solution to the weight issue. So I took mine apart and remade them with a Biwa pearl instead of the Boro bead. This second version was lighter weight and I like the organic look/feel of them. I packed the Boro beads back up to use on another day.
Overall this is a pretty design. I would have appreciated at least one photo showing how to stack or assemble the parts. Maybe there is a trick to laying in the Keishi Pearls to prevent that gap? Showing that would have been helpful, especially if you are a beginner or a visual learner.