Big Twist Earrings

This is a design I wish I had come up with, but alas, it’s not mine. I learned it from watching the Orecchini Big Twist Tutorial video by MilkyBeads Bijoux. The video is in Italian, but since she showed every step, I was able to follow along. (Orecchini is Italian for “earring.”) I actually made written instructions and a photo tutorial for my personal use, so I wouldn’t have to rewatch the video every time I wasn’t sure what to do next. However, I am hesitant to share it here for copyright reasons: one being that it’s not my design, and I don’t want my photos to get made into a collage for a DIY site.

A few months ago my boyfriend commissioned me to make a birthday gift for his cousin. Her favorite color is blue, so I chose to use silver-lined dark aqua (Toho color code #23B) seed beads, as I like that color, too. The photos don’t really show the color correctly. The beads really are more aqua than blue.

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In this photo I’ve tried to correct the color of the beads.

One thing I like about this design is how flexible the completed pieces are. It’s kind of fun to bend them. 😛

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I actually ended up making two pairs. I hadn’t bothered tying the string after making the initial circle of beads, thinking that would give adequate space for sticking the second layer of beads in between the beads of the first layer. Instead, I figured I would just pull the tail tightly. It worked when I did the same design using size 11 Preciosa (Czech) seed beads, but those are smaller than size 11 Toho seed beads. The inner layers ended up getting loose, and pulling the tail only helped tighten the two centermost layers. The exposed string didn’t look good. It wasn’t that obvious from far away, but I didn’t feel comfortable giving those to someone, so I kept those for myself and was more careful when making the second pair.

comparison

Side by side comparison of the one with exposed threads (left) and the one that was made nice and tight (right). The threads/gaps are not as obvious in the photos than in person, but you can click for a larger image and look closely from the 3 o’clock position to 6 o’clock.

I hope I can take the general idea and come up with my own design, as I have thought of linking several of these motifs to make a necklace.

Wire wrapped pea pod charm

I first learned of these adorable pea pod pendants from a class offered by the Meetup group. I didn’t actually take the class, but during the herringbone bracelet class, the instructor mentioned it’s the same weave for the pea pod pendant. (I don’t know why the photos in the post are so blurry. They’re sharp when I am editing the draft. You can click on them to see a slightly larger image.)

Length (including the loop) is 2.2 cm, width is 0.5 cm.

Length (including the loop) is 2.2 cm, width is 0.5 cm.

I watched some video tutorials online. In the first one, the wire was bent in half and you wrapped both ends of the wire around the beads. I didn’t like it because it looked messy, but now I think it’s just the way those particular ones were made. In the second video that I watched, she wrapped one end of the wire, much like the herringbone weave. I thought I liked that version better, so that was the one I tried first, except I put it on a headpin. After making it, I decided to try the first version, and to my surprise, I liked it better. It also gives you two tendrils. Of course, my first attempt would be to make it tiny! I had some green 3mm round beads that were lying around unused. (I bought them because they were cheap and I thought I could do something with them, but when they arrived they didn’t look quite like how I imagined.) The only green 26 gauge wire that I have is sea green colored. I wonder if there isn’t enough contrast between the color of the beads and the wire, but since that’s what I have, that’s what I used.

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Arranged from left to right in the order that they were made.

As you can see in the photo above, the leftmost one was made by wrapping one wire. Hence, it only has one tendril. I wasn’t completely satisfied with it, so I gave the two-end wrapping a try. (Plus, I messed up when wrapping the loop, resulting in a gap.) The shape of the second one is my favorite, though I’m not sure what I did differently. I didn’t finish it because I had used a piece of previously used scrap wire, thinking it would just be a test. I might take it apart to reuse the beads and headpin, since the previous bends in the wire and parts where the color had come off are visible. After that, I made the rest using the two-ended method. My next best one was the fourth one. When shaping the fifth one, I accidentally nicked off the color with the pliers. I didn’t time how long it took me to make one, but they didn’t take long to make. P1100803eq Since my pendants are small and light—more like charms—I decided to make them into earrings. My major concern is that the tendrils might get caught in hair. I wore them for a couple hours and had no problems, but I was careful to keep my hair away from them. Another concern is that the 26 gauge wire might not be strong enough to withstand bending, so the pea pod could get deformed easily. More testing is necessary before I can make these for sale or give them as gifts.

Tiny Tree of Life Pendants

A couple of nights ago I was lying in bed when I thought I should attempt to make a tiny Tree of Life pendant (more like a charm). It actually wasn’t my idea; I had read about a challenge to make a wire wrapped Tree of Life that’s smaller than a nickel.

Yesterday evening I gave it a try, and here’s the result.

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The nickel is in there for scale. My use of purple seed beads would make these resemble flowering Jacaranda mimosifolia.

I struggled at first with making the frame, because I thought a wrapped loop would look disproportionately large on a small ring. That’s why I did the three loops, and secured the ends of the ring when wrapping the tree branch. Then I discovered the three loops are practically impossible to replicate exactly. (It’s possible that I just need a lot more practice, or maybe it can be done using a jig.) At first I thought I would use these charms for earrings, since they’re small and light, but then decided against it. When it comes to earrings, I prefer that the frames be close to identical. I don’t mind if the trees aren’t identical, because it’s even more difficult to make identical trees than it is to make identical frames. (But if people actually want mismatched earrings that don’t look deliberately mismatched—like the outer two in the photo above—then I’ll make them.)

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Although the trees aren’t identical, the size and style of the frames are similar enough for me to use them for earrings.

The tree part was actually fairly easy and enjoyable to make. I used 26 gauge wire for it, so it’s easy to bend. It takes me about half an hour to make one piece from start to finish, so I am seriously considering selling these. Because they are so small, there’s no room for complicated details, so the design remains simple, and I like that.

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The smallest one has a 1.4 cm diameter, and the larger one has a 1.6 cm diameter.

I made the ring by wrapping the 18 gauge wire around a ring mandrel. I started out at size 5. Making the tree was easier than I thought it would be. Then I decided to try size 2. Once again, no problem. To challenge myself more, I tried size 1. (After wrapping the loop, the ring got smaller so that it no longer fit on the mandrel.) That one actually was challenging, and it took the longest to make. I’m satisfied that the whole piece fits on a nickel. I don’t plan to make another one like that any time soon.

DSCF7437qThe next morning, I couldn’t wait to try to make more, with wrapped loops, so they could be used for earrings. My fingers were still sore from the night before, so I didn’t have as good control of the wire as I would have liked. It took three attempts before I had two frames that were close enough in size, but during the process I scraped the silver plating off the wire on one of them. However, it’s not noticeable after I wrapped the 26 gauge wire on.

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Clip-on earrings, because I don’t have pierced ears, but I have ear hooks for those who do. This one has a 1.6 cm diameter.

Purple shell and amethyst earrings

Update — I added a photo of a similar pair being worn.

My boyfriend commissioned me to make earrings for his niece’s birthday present. I decided to replicate the ones that I made for my sister for Christmas last year, except with ear wires instead of clips. I was concerned that it would look off balanced because the clips have a little ball at the top but the wires don’t, but I think it still turned out fine.

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Placing them against something flat doesn’t do them justice. They look much better when hanging freely, like when they’re worn, so I’ll need to find something better to hang earrings from if I were to try to sell them online. The dyed mother-of-pearl and semi-precious amethyst have natural variation, hence each piece is unique.

It took me about three and a half hours to complete this pair. It’s been a while since I have made coils and loops with wire, so I was a bit rusty and it took several attempts before I could get it right. The amethyst beads that I had recently bought were a bit larger than the glass beads that I had previously used, so I had to make a larger coil for it to look proportionate. Unlike most of my other jewelry ideas that just appear in my head, I scrambled to come up with this design the day before Christmas last year. Although I had taken some photos, they weren’t clear due to poor lighting, so it took some time for me to figure out what I did. I also had some issues with finding seed beads that fit the wire, so that was time consuming.

If I were to really start an Etsy shop, I hope that I will be able to make these in two hours or less, so that I can keep the price in the $30 to $35 range. The materials were silver coated copper wire, crystals, dyed mother-of-pearl, and semi-precious amethyst. I am thinking of trying other color combinations.

Edit: I made a similar pair, with blue beads instead. Things went more smoothly and it took a little over one hour to make. I still like the size and shape of the crystals in the one above, so if I can find crystal rounds in other colors, I might try those instead of the glass beads that I used. I would replace the seed beads with more subtle colored ones, so the blue isn’t overpowering. I also wish I can find shell beads in that shape that are dyed blue, so I can make a pair that are different shades of blue.

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Pardon the stray hairs. 🙂