Make Hoop Earrings: Free Metal Hoop Earring Tutorial and Embellish With Colorful Beads

A girl can never have too many earrings, and hoops always seem to be in style. In this free tutorial to make hoop earrings, you can start with basic wire shapes and then dress them up a bit with some colorful beads. These earrings are a perfect way to show off special beads or when you only have a few of a kind left in your stash. Vintage or Czech glass beads, Swarovski crystal beads, lampwork glass beads, polymer clay beads, African trading beads, gemstone beads–they’ll all shine on these handcrafted hoop earrings. I have some tiny Roman glass beads leftover from the ends of a strand of larger ones that can get some attention in hoops like these. Thanks to Laurel Nathanson for another great tutorial!

Make Bead-Embellished Hoop Earrings
By Laurel Nathanson

I am a girl with a love of beads, as I suspect many of us are. I try to incorporate my massive and ever-growing bead collection into as many of my jewelry projects as I can. Here is my favorite hoop technique. It’s fun and easy, and you can make a variety of shapes and sizes. And, of course, you can embellish them with beads.

Materials

12-, 14-, or 16-gauge sterling silver wire
20- and 22-gauge sterling silver wire
various beads
wire cutters
torch
ball-peen or chasing hammer
center punch
drill or Dremel with #60 bit or other hole punch
metal file
pliers
rubber or plastic mallet
optional: mandrel/s
optional: soldering set up
optional: liver of sulfur and pumice or steel wool

Steps

1.       To make the hoops: Cut two pieces of 12-, 14-, or 16-gauge silver wire to the same length. I worked with wire measuring between 2 and 4-1/2 inches.
2.       Ball the ends in a torch flame.
3.       Hammer the balled ends into flat disks.
4.       Use a center punch to make a divot in the center of each disk and then drill a hole using a #60 drill bit (or punch with a metal punch).
5.       Anneal the wire. Then use a plastic or rawhide mallet to help form your hoops into any shapes you want. Play around with different forms and mandrels.Editor’s note: If you want to add texture to your hoops (see earrings in Step 10), this is a good time to do it.
6.       Optional: You can add soldered wire bars across the hoops as well. Play around with different ideas. Any soldered wires you add to the structure become more ways to incorporate beads!
These beads are stacked on rivets that were added to the soldered bars across the hoops.
7.       To make the earring hooks: Cut two pieces of 20-gauge wire. The length depends on the hoop shape and size. Most of my hook wires were around 1-1/2 inches.
8.       To make the curve, you can bend the wire over a mandrel or a marker. Make a small loop on one side of your wire with pliers and feed it into one of the holes you drilled in your hoop. Close the loop to secure it. Make a small bend in the other end of the wire, file the end, and feed it into the other hole in the hoop to close the earring.
9.       To embellish the hoops: Gather your beads and your 20- and 22-gauge wire and begin playing. Try wrapping, making dangles (see below, right), even riveting beads onto your hoops. I like to have some copper wire on hand to play around with and to refine my ideas before I use the silver wire.
10.    Once your earrings are done, the final (and to me, most important) step is to patina them. I make a batch of liver of sulfur, drop these cuties in, and pull them out when they are pretty dark. Then I use pumice to wipe off the patina, leaving a nice contrast of light and dark silver.

Now you have easy-peasy hoops with lots of impact! Your ears are going to thank you for adorning them in such darling jewels.

Laurel

You’ll find more of Laurel’s fun and colorful metalsmithing projects in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Her colored Plexiglas and metal rings were featured on the cover of the November issue, and more of her projects will appear in future issues in a new “Metal & More” feature. Subscribe now and you won’t miss anything from Laurel or the other experts in each issue, who provide metalsmithing and lapidary tutorials, features on tools and gemstones, and much more.

About the designer: Laurel Nathanson is an artist, metalsmith, and high school shop teacher. Her jewelry line, Sugarcoat, combines her roots as a jeweler with her passion for pattern and surface design. She lives in a purple house in Oakland, California, with her beloved Bichons, Bonnie and Bailey. Learn more about Laurel and see her work on her website and Facebook page. These earrings look great with Laurel’s bead rings!

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