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Foundations in Metalsmithing: Statement Earrings

Lesson 18 of 21

Assembling and Evaluating Your Statement Earrings

Megan Auman

Foundations in Metalsmithing: Statement Earrings

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

18. Assembling and Evaluating Your Statement Earrings

Lesson Info

Assembling and Evaluating Your Statement Earrings

So now that we've got our jump rings made and our ear wires made, now it's time to go ahead and assemble our statement earrings. I know, we're like sort of done! Isn't that crazy? Such a simple project. First thing first, if you're using the same design for both sides, but if they're not symmetrical within the pair, you know what I mean - the design is the same but they're not perfectly symmetrical, make sure you flip one of them over when you're putting the ear wires in so they're the same. These are a good example, one's flipped the other direction, so make sure you're doing that when you assemble. But from there, what you're gonna do is if you've got jump ring connections; Let's pretend that this little guy - Megan - Yes? Would you mind doing a little demo on what you just did? That was a little quick on the symmetrical. Oh yeah, so actually let me just take my earrings out so I can show you guys. So you can see how these two earrings, they match each other, but when I cut t...

hem out, I cut them out, oh they're actually like this, I did them that way. So when I cut them out, you can see like this, they're not symmetrical from this side to this side, but they're both the same. So if you wanted them to be symmetrical in your ears, when you put the ear wire in you would need to flip one of them, so that they would be symmetrical. Does that make sense? Perfect. Apparently these are not actually symmetrical. I didn't do that on these! (audience laughter) Who knew? It's fine, I have asymmetrical hair, it's okay. Alright, so make sure you flip one of them around if that is what you want. Alright, so now what we can do is - remember we've gone through all of our sanding, all of our finishing, and it's time to assemble our ear wires. So we're going to grab our jump rings here and I really recommend, if you have them, that you work with two pairs of pliers in your hands for jump rings. It's just going to make your life so much easier because we aren't soldering these jump rings it's really important that we get them closed nice and tight so that there's no gap in here. So what you'll do, is as I mentioned we're gonna take our jump ring and we're going to twist it open this way, we're not going to pull it apart. We're going to twist it open and then literally we are just going to assemble each little segment. This is where if you've got a lot of moving parts, go back to your sketch and make sure things are lined up the way they're supposed to. Then I'm just going to take both pliers and work this. You want it to be as tightly closed as possible. That's why we cut them with our saw frame instead of cutting them with wire cutters. That's a case too where you want to use a fairly thin when you're making those jump rings, you want to use a fairly thin saw blade. I had the one knot in there so that's what we used to cut those, one knot or a two knot is really good because it's going to make that line as thin as possible. So now just go ahead and keep assembling these, I think this is pretty straightforward. I will admit that I frequently assemble my earrings before I finish them just because I want to see what they look like. But keep in mind that when you do that, you then still have to take them back apart, do all of your finishing and then put them back together, so. I am not a person who likes delayed gratification so I like to put them together, put them on and see and then go back and do my finishing. But then know that you just have to take them apart and put them back together. So then lastly, we will just add our ear wire. The same thing with your ear wire as well, so you've go that hoop in there, instead of spreading it apart, twist it open. Then you've got your earring together. It really actually is kind of that simple. Can you demo putting it in gem frame one more time? Yep, absolutely! Thank you. Lots of jump rings and lots of parts. So as you can see, sometimes I forget to use jump rings, so I'm just going to twist this guy open. Great. I'm going to put this on here, and we'll just pretend that these two pieces go together. I'm going to slide my second piece on, grab them again with my pliers, and just tighten them so that you really shouldn't be able to see that seam. It should close really tightly. I don't know what this is, but now it's a thing. So you don't actually squeeze it? So I don't squeeze it, you twist it. Yeah that's what I wanted to show, thank you. Yes, you twist it back together. I will occasionally give it a tiny little press if it seems like it's not, but really you should be able to twist it back together with those two pliers to get it where you need to go. Other questions about the jump rings or the ear wires or assembly? Yeah. Do you tend to match the wire metal and the earring metal? I do, I tend to match my wire metal for the jump rings to the earring itself. So if I'm using brass, I use brass jump rings. If I'm using silver, I use silver jump rings. But there's no rule for that, so you could actually use it as a point of contrast, you could throw silver jump rings in brass, or you could even throw silver jump rings and oxidize them in brass and have little black jump rings instead. So it's really just kind of a personal aesthetic. We didn't really talk about this, but as you're using multiple pieces there's no reason that you have to use all one metal. So this could be bronze, silver and brass if I wanted it to be. I tend to match them, but you don't have to. Do you ever finish, as you're putting that together I was thinking oh, are both sides the same? Do you ever finish? You can do whatever you want! Clearly. I love that idea, yeah. You could actually do that, where say you finish one side more matte, one side more shiny. I actually have a bronze pair of these that are a little bit smaller and what I noticed is that they've started to tarnish and so I've just been cleaning the front off and letting the back tarnish, so the backs of them are actually darker than the fronts, which is a really nice effect. So the same thing, if these were silver you could oxidize them and then clean back one side, but leave the other side more sulphered, and you would have a nice two-tone effect. So there's really a lot you can do in terms of the finish and playing with the different pieces and I love that you guys are starting to think really creatively about this because it means that your wheels are turning. Other questions about putting that together? Yes, I don't know if I understand this but you might, for the jump ring pliers, was one wide and one narrower? One is wide and one is narrower, and that is simply because I own one wide pair of pliers and I own one narrow pair of pliers. These are parallel pliers, so these are slightly more expensive pliers but they are by far my favorite pliers in the world. I love them, so I'll just take a minute - we're gonna tool geek out for just a second, cause that's fun right? So they're called parallel pliers because you can see the jaws are parallel and as you close the jaws they stay parallel. So you can see here, the jaws are parallel and as I close them, they stay parallel. So what I like about them is that they're really great for straightening, they have a nice grip surface. The wide ones are a little wide for assembling jump rings, which is why you'll notice in my right hand I put the more narrow version. So you can see, one's wide and one's narrow. So I hold the more narrow version; In a perfect world, you would actually have two narrow versions for the jump rings. That's going to be your most, kind of dextrous option. But I mainly use the wide ones, so that's why I was using one wide and one narrow. So good catch, not really important to the process. Another question, we've been following, we've been doing this education today following the work flow that you would normally use - Yes. That said, @landlockedsailor is asking about whether you tumble before or after assembling? So I generally, personally would tumble before because what happens is when you've got these jump rings on here, it's most of your shot, either your steel shot or your plastic media. It's not going to be small enough to get in this little are under the jump ring, so you might end up with a little bit of unfinished-ness, so I would tumble before that to make sure my entire surface is really consistent. That said, if you want to tumble to work-harden your jump rings, what I would do is throw all the components in the tumbler, tumble it for a good four-six hours, get the surface nice and shiny, assemble it, and then throw it back in for a couple more hours, and that will work-harden your jump rings and your ear wires. I'm a big fan, as a designer of actually wearing your own work, and that's for a couple of reasons. One is of course if you're actually trying to sell, it's really good marketing, but I also think it's really important to wear your own work because you're designing and creating something new, so you don't actually know how it's going to wear. So as you guys are finishing your designs, my goal for you is to actually go out and show them off. Now if you don't have your ears pierced, find a friend who does and ask them to show them off on your behalf. But I want you guys to go ahead and show off those earrings, and I also want you to share them with us on social media. So as you guys are working, working through this class you can tag me, you can tag Creative Live, you can use the #CLStatementEarrings, we want to see what you guys are working on. My goal for you guys with this class, is I wanted you to see that getting started in metalsmithing is not so scary, you can get started with less than $ in tools, you don't even need a torch, and you can make really really cool stuff. In fact I've been seeing some of you guys posting on social media, please keep sharing, I want to see what you're working on, I love seeing people's projects and even sketches. I saw Tawny posting some of her sketches and I'm so excited to see what's going to come out of them. So as I said in our last segment, once you've finished your statement earrings, I really want you to take some time to wear them, or if you can't wear them for whatever reason, have a friend wear them for you, and take a few minutes to evaluate them. This is a really important skill to develop as a designer, it's not just that kind of creation process, the ideas in the making. Actually using your work, because as jewelry designers, we're making something that is intended to be worn, so actually taking the time to wear your work and use your work, and know how it exists in space and in the world, that's really important in developing as a designer. So take some time to wear your new earrings and think about a couple of things. Are they comfortable to wear? Are they too heavy? So one little caveat about this is if you don't wear earrings a lot, or you only wear tiny earrings, the first day that you wear your new statement earrings, they're gonna feel heavy. So let's just be honest about that one. But over time, are they heavy? Are they comfortable? You'll notice I've been wearing these earrings all day, and that says something about the weight of them and the feel of them, that I can actually stand up here on camera and wear them all day and not feel like my head is gonna fall off or my ears are gonna drag down. That's the first thing to assess. Then, do they twist or move in unexpected ways? Was there something that's happening that you're like oh, every time I look in the mirror this piece is twisted that way and I don't like that. So pay attention to things like that, or do they get stuck in unintended positions? Do they catch on your clothes? These look long, but clearly I've been wearing them all day and they haven't yet gotten stuck on anything, so we know they're working pretty okay, or do they get flipped or twisted? So just pay attention to some of those details. If you find that there are things that aren't working, you can ask yourself what could you change about the design? Maybe you should use a thinner gauge metal, if they're too heavy, just going a gauge thinner is always a really good solution. Same size, same design, but one gauge down is often going to solve that weight problem for you. Or maybe for whatever reason, a thinner gauge doesn't make sense, but you can add more piercing. You can cut more areas out to make it lighter. Maybe you need more or less segments connected by jump rings, so maybe you actually need three segments that have a little more movement or two segments so that it moves less. So think about can you change the way they're connected or maybe you simply need to change the size or shape of the ear wires. Sometimes just making a bigger hoop in the ear wire or a longer back on the ear wire is going to help balance the earring out. So as you're wearing your earrings, start to think about these things and kind of assess from there. Do you guys have any questions about that kind of analysis? It's so important, and it's one of those things that was really driven home for me. I remember getting yelled at by a visiting artist in grad school because I wasn't wearing my own work, and of course people tell you you should wear your own work from a marketing standpoint, but really I think as designers, it's really important to wear our own work from a user perspective, making sure that things really are comfortable and easy to wear.

Class Description

Learn the basics of metalsmithing to make stunning statement earrings (and more!) - no torch required!

Getting started in metalsmithing doesn’t have to be scary. In Foundations in Metalsmithing: Statement Earrings, you’ll learn the basic skills you need to start making metal jewelry, as well as the design principles to create your own unique pair of statement earrings, all with less than $100 in tools! (And, you’ll be able to apply those tools and new-found skills to expand your ideas into a full line of jewelry!)

In this class, jewelry designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will show anyone how to get started making one of a kind metal jewelry.

You will learn how to:

  • Choose the right tools and materials for your metal jewelry projects.
  • Design incredible (and comfortable to wear) statement earrings with balance and movement.
  • Saw and pierce to create any shape from sheet metal.
  • File and finish your metal pieces so they look professional.
  • Create your own ear wires to finish off your unique design.

Whether you’re looking to grow your existing jewelry making knowledge or for a new creative outlet that you can proudly wear (and show off!), you’ll leave this class with your own pair of stunning statement earrings - and the skills and design chops to expand your ideas into a complete line of jewelry!  


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One of the most special things about Megan, is that though she is a creative, she is extremely good at business. Her organized way of thinking and presenting material, and her genuine joy when empowering her students with the tools needed to be successful, is charming and so much fun. Somehow there is such seamlessness and flow to her class structure and explanations, that I can absorb what she says and easily retain it. I really can start a jewelry line just with this class. She is amazing and LOVE her style!!!


I really enjoyed this class! Megan provides a great foundation for using metal sheets to design/make jewelry and using wire to make unique findings. This was a great class for learning the fundamentals and sparking inspiration for new projects

Vernell Bevelander

I LOVED this class! Megan is such a detailed teacher. She leaves no stone unturned. So much fun! Can't wait for my next class!