One of my jobs today was to make some new earrings for Between Dreams in Botley. One of the new designs I wanted to try out uses earwires soldered onto the main part of the earrings, so I thought I make that this week's tutorial. Earwires that are one piece with the rest of the earring aren't exactly new, and I expect that lots of people have their own method of soldering them in place, but I thought I'd show you my way anyway!
These are the earrings waiting for their earwires - long thin ovals of silver textured with my favourite hammer (of course!)
And these are the earwires. I've cut two lengths of 6cm 0.8mm wire and used a chasing hammer to flatten approximately Xmm at one end. This increases the surface area of the section to be soldered onto the back of the earring, making the soldered join stronger.
I tend to use solder paste for this job. As there's only one soldered join on these earrings I've used easy solder paste. I've put a little bit of solder on the hammered section of the earwire.....
and then I heat the wire so that the solder melts onto the silver. I stop before the solder melts completely and flows across the whole of the wire - I just want to make sure that it stays in one place and doesn't smear across the back of the earring during the next stage.
And the next stage is soldering the two pieces together. Remember that the main part of the earring needs more heating than the wire, so direct the heat onto that first, and then include the wire. I hold the wire in place using insulated reverse action tweezers, and have to remember to heat the tip of the tweezers too as they draw heat away from the silver. Once the solder has flowed between the two pieces remove the heat, but keep the earring itself still until the liquid appearance has gone. If you move the earring too quickly you could pull the two pieces apart. You do need a steady hand for this part of the job, and you will probably find it easier if you rest the hand holding the tweezers on the table beside your soldering area. Practise makes this stage a lot easier, promise!
Once the earrings have been pickled and rinsed,
the next job is to bend the earwires over a mandrel to shape them....
and then flick out the end of the earwires - this gives them a more professional 'finished' look, and also makes them easier to put on.
Remember to use a needle file or burr cup to round the ends of the wires so that they are comfortable to push through your ears.
And finally give them a polish! I decided to use nylon jaw pliers to curve the ovals slightly. Now I just need to think of a name for my new design!