Making, Metalsmithing

How it’s made

Some time back, I shared my excitement at creating these earrings, which have since become the inspiration for my Groovy Summer collection. There is a LOT that goes into making these, and I thought it might be fun to do a quick post with process photos.

To start, I took a sheet of silver that I patterned in my rolling mill, and then I used a disc cutter to cut a disc. I used two pieces of sterling silver strip to make the walls of the form – one around the outside, one around the center. I then used my saw to cut out the center.

The first time I made these, I tried to use the disc cutter for both inside and outside cuts. But the sterling silver strip is pretty stiff, and I learned that it was really hard for me to get the size of the wall lined up just right with the interior hole. At my current skill level and experience, I found it was easier to solder the inside wall down, and then saw out the center.

Once that was done, I drilled holes for air to pass through, and for the headpins. That’s important, because if you don’t have air holes before you close the hollow form, it can explode or collapse – which could be dangerous.

So, air holes (which will later be used for the head pins) are drilled, and then the top of the form is soldered in place. Here is a view of the piece after it’s been closed up, but before clean up:

Messy, but it gets better!

Here is the front and the back of the pieces that have been cleaned up. That includes making sure the inside is free of any chemicals that might cause the solder to deteriorate. These haven’t been patinaed or polished yet, but it’s important to get them close to final before assembling everything. That’s because it’s harder to polish the nooks and crannies well once everything has been assembled.

And now, on to the top hollow form, which will be suspended from the ear wires. Below, I am working on multiple pairs of earrings at once, which I generally find quicker than doing one piece at a time. Here we have the patterned metal, already cut into discs. And we also have the sterling silver strip that will be used for the hollow form walls. The strip has to be soldered together, and then soldered to the disc.

Below are the finished forms, with edges filed and sanded. These are awaiting a good scrub, patina, and then initial polish before assembly.

Below, I am attaching 1.5 mm jump rings to the smaller hollow forms so that they can be suspended from ear wires, and then connected to the bottom hollow form. The jump rings are resting on tiny titanium strips, which the silver solder doesn’t adhere to. Once you get the setup right, the soldering is quick and easy!

These little hollow forms now have their jump rings and some patina, and are ready to be polished:

And finally, once the pieces are cleaned up (scrubbed, filed and sanded), patinaed, and polished, they will be ready for assembly, something like this:

These are now all ready to go, just waiting for ear wires:

Here is one last shot, a close up so you can see the details, and get a sense of their size with my hand as reference.

These are the signature piece of the Groovy Summer collection, but there aren’t a lot of them. There will be only two pairs available when the collection releases, along with a couple of smaller pairs with only one hollow form:

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the making process, and that you’ll take a peek at the Groovy Summer collection when it launches!

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