Thursday, March 4, 2021

Blue Blossom Soldered Beaded Earrings Free Workshop!


As promised, here is the photo support tutorial that goes along with my YouTube workshop, Blue Blossom Soldered Beaded Earrings

The video workshop is pretty much all you need to learn this project, but I believe that still photos are always a great accompaniment for video tutorials. This way, you don't have to keep pausing the video and rewinding to go over a technique, and the photos also give you a closer look at some of the steps. So be sure to watch the video in its entirety for all of the details!

This video workshop was previously published on another site that required a paid subscription, but I have decided to now offer it for free for all of my YouTube subscribers. Post any questions you may have to the video on YouTube, and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all of my videos. I hope you enjoy it!

Blue Blossom Soldered Beaded Earrings Workshop

Learn how to make these beautiful beaded & soldered earrings using soft solder and a soldering iron! 

This step by step photo tutorial was created for the solderer who has a bit of experience under his or her belt and a knowledge of basic soft soldering tools, terms, and techniques, though all levels of expertise are invited. 

This is the perfect project for those who have read my book, Soldered Alchemy, or for anyone who is interested in taking their soft soldering skills in a fun, new direction. 

Skill level: Intermediate Beginner

In this lesson, we will create these beautiful earrings using only a few simple materials. This tutorial is designed for the Beginner-Intermediate to Advanced skill set. If you are brand new to soldering and have never soldered before, you may want to first read my books Boho Chic Jewelry and Soldered Alchemy for the most basic of soldering lessons and information, as this tutorial was created for folks with a bit of soldering experience. All skills sets are welcome to take this course, but a basic knowledge of soldering tools and techniques is helpful.

You will need the following basic supplies: 

Soldering iron - I recommend using a soldering iron that has a higher wattage. That means, instead of using a very low standard craft 25 watt iron, instead look for one that is around 80 or 100 watts. You will need an iron that gets hot enough to melt lead-free solder, which melts at a higher temperature than lead solder. We only use lead-free solder for jewelry making. Though it is not essential, a rheostat which is used to control the electrical current to your iron, allowing you to adjust your iron's temperature, is great to have. Some irons have rheostats built in, others do not, so in that case you will need an external one. Having a rheostat and the ability to adjust your iron's temperature will make decorative soldering much easier to accomplish. Any brand iron is fine. I use multiple ones and have no preference for one brand above another. A soldering iron tip of 1/4" or smaller works best for decorative soldering but you can use a wider tip if that is all you have - I taught myself all of my decorative soldering with an old fashioned wide tip, so if I can do it, you can too! 

Safety Glasses & adequate ventilation for soldering or soldering exhaust fan

Liquid or gel flux & disposable craft brush to apply flux 

Optional: old pliers for using when soldering

Lead-free solder 

Black patina & disposable craft brush to apply patina  

Silver or copper wire, 20 gauge is recommended but you can use a similar gauge if you don't have 20. You will need:
One 8-inch section of wire for the oval frames
Two 6-inch sections of wire to string the beads on
Two 2 & 1/4 inch sections of wire for the ear wires

An assortment of beads - make sure the beads you choose fit your wire. For this project I used: 

Bead Treasures Czech Glass Beads 8/0 seed beads: 
8 -Opaque Royal 
8 - Opaque Turq
8 - OP Turq Blue 
2 - 14mm pressed glass flower beads

Jewelry pliers: chain nose & round nose

Wire straightening pliers (optional)

Wire cutters

Steel block and ball peen hammer

Green Scotch-Brite pad

Scotch tape (any brand)

Choose Your Bead Colors & Styles

You do not have to use blue beads, you can use any color combination that you like! I chose the beads for this project based around the large focal bead. We use seed beads around the focal bead. These are seed beads size 8/0.

Create The Oval Frames

Before starting any project, remember to wear safety glasses when hammering and cutting wire and also when soldering or working with any chemicals.

The first thing we are going to do is to create our oval wire frames. We will shape the wire, harden it, and tin it with a thin coating of solder. Refer to the video workshop for complete instructions on how to do this.

Once you have your oval frames shaped and hammered, next you will tin them with a thin coating of lead-free solder and then permanently close the open ends of each oval with a drop of solder.

Add Some Beads & Wire To Your Ovals

Once your ovals are soldered, washed, and dried, it's now time to add some beads and wire! Watch this short video to see how we'll do this, and then follow the photos afterward for a bit of a closer-up look.

Straighten and cut two lengths of wire making each at least 6 inches in length. Estimate a measurement of about one quarter up from one end of the wire and place a small piece of tape at that spot. This is just to help hold our beads on the wire and it's placement does not have to be exact. 

Now thread your beads onto the wire with the tape below the beads.

Once you are pleased with the placement of your beads, place your beaded wire across your oval to see how the beaded portion fits inside of your oval. You can add or remove beads as needed, but for this project we are keeping the beads inside of the oval. 

Now we will attach the top portion of the wire to the oval by wrapping the wire around the oval. To do this, hold your beaded wire in place so that the beaded portion is centered in the oval, gripping the wire with the beads against the oval. Use your other hand to wrap the tail end of wire around the oval, traveling through the oval and up and around the top of the oval once again until the wire is secured to your oval.

Now turn your project around and wrap the other end of the wire around the opposite end of the oval, but remove the piece of tape before you do this.

You can use your jewelry pliers to help thread the wire through the oval if you need to. 

Once the wire is wrapped on both ends of the oval, you may want to pinch it down with your pliers to help secure it in place if it is a little bit too loose. 

Repeat these steps for your second oval to create two matching ovals with beads.

Create A Loop Bail On The Top Of One Of Your Ovals

Using one of the long tail ends of wire we will next create a loop bail at the top of each of our ovals. This will be the loop that our earwire will attach to. Decide which end of your ovals you would like to have as the tops of your earrings. Use the tail of wire that extends from the top of your earring to create your loop bails. For this, we will make a simple wrapped loop.

To make the loop, grip the wire right where it extends from the top end of the oval and using your other hand make a bend in the wire. Next, position your round nose pliers gripping inside the bend of the wire and with your free hand bend the tail end of the wire around the top jaw of your round nose pliers, creating a loop in the wire. 

Next, use your round nose pliers to grip the loop that you just made, and with your free hand, bring the tail end of the wire around the "neck" of the wire beneath the loop and wrap it around a few times until it is secure.

Then clip off any excess wire. 

Once you are finished with the loop end, turn your oval over and use your wire cutters to snip off any excess wire from the bottom of your oval. Repeat this process with both of your ovals.

Your pieces are now ready to solder! 

Soldering Your Earrings

New to soldering? Be sure to watch the entire workshop video for detailed instruction! Apply some flux to the wire-wrapped ends of your oval. Picking up a drop of solder, apply it to the wire-wrapped end, creating a droplet of solder over the wire.

Do the same thing at the top of each earring - coat the wire wrapped area with flux and then coat with solder. Add a droplet of solder to the wire-wrapped area where it meets the oval, creating a rounded droplet. Do not solder inside of the loop that we created, as that is where we will attach our ear wires.

Add Some Decorative Drops Of Solder

Next, apply a coating of flux to the oval wire, avoiding the beads. Pick up a droplet of solder and apply it to the wire, adjusting your iron's temperature with your rheostat as needed if your iron is too cold or too hot. Build up the droplets so that they are relatively the same size. Repeat this process on both ends of each earring, and then flip them over and add droplets to the reverse side so that your earrings look the same on the front and back sides. 

Once you are finished soldering, wash your project in some warm soapy water, rinse, and then dry thoroughly.

Apply Patina

Now it is time to apply a patina to the metalwork to give it a dark, vintage finish. Place your project on a glass or ceramic plate not used for eating and add a few drops of patina to the plate. Using your patina brush, apply the patina to all of the silver metal areas of your project, avoiding the beads. Be sure to flip your earrings over and make sure you cover every silver area with patina. Once your entire project is blackened from the patina, blot dry with a paper towel and allow to air dry completely. 

Once completely dry, gently wash with warm soapy water and a soft cloth or soft nail brush. Some of the patina may come off when you do this. That is okay, we are looking for a vintage finish, not a perfect black finish. Rinse and dry your project. Optional: polish gently with a soft cloth and some carnauba wax or stained glass finishing compound to bring out a glossy finish to your patina. 

Add Ear Wires To Finish Your Earrings

You can use premade ear wires or make a pair yourself. You can learn how to make your own earwires in my YouTube tutorial.

To do this, cut two pieces of 21 gauge wire approximately 2 & 1/4 inches long. Holding the wires together and right next to each other, grip the very ends of the pair of wires with your round nose pliers and turn the wires to make a small loop in each of the wires on one end. That will be the loop where you will attach your earring. 

Now once again hold the wires together and right next to each other with the loops you just made facing up. Using a pen or pencil as a dowel, press the wire against the dowel, curving the opposite side of the wire (the side without the loops) around the dowel to create a U shape in the wire. 

Next, use your ball peen hammer and bench block to gently tap the ear wires to harden them. Use your fingers to further gently bend the ear wires so that they are the same size. If you like, you can also patina the ear wires, or leave them silver colored. 

Attach your earrings to the small loops on your ear wires. 

Thank you for joining me for this tutorial. If you find that you have any further questions, leave a note on the YouTube video and I'll do my best to answer. 

I hope you had fun and learned something new! New tutorials coming soon!

Learn how to make your own earwires

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Article copyright Laura Beth Love 2021 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area.