Tuesday, November 5, 2013

and again, new DIY earrings

I fell in love with these iolite and brass earrings from Portland, Oregon vintage/artisan shop Demimonde. Of course, at $140, they're way out of my price range. (Note: they're labeled the "lolite" earrings; I assume that's a typo and that they're actually made of iolite. I've never heard of "lolite.")

Time to DIY! The construction is simple: two pieces of chain are joined at the top by a jump ring. At the bottom, twelve little flanges/drops/pendants of brass hang from a head or eye pin (or simple piece of brass wire) that has been threaded through the loops of this very fine chain and its ends bent over (once) and hammered slightly to flatten them (optional). The trick here is to get a very fine chain so that you can simply bend the head pin/eye pin/wire over to secure it. With a wider chain, the pin would slip through the loops and the whole thing would come apart in a second. The iolite is a tube bead, with a brass spacer bead on either side, also strung on a head pin/eye pin/bit of brass wire that is threaded through the loops of the chain and folded back on itself. You do have to be careful to count your loops so that the iolites don't hang in a lopsided fashion.

I was looking for perfectly neat little brass drops/flanges/pendants and couldn't find any, so I picked up some small square brass rod (hollow center) and hammered it flat to make my own. These earrings are about 1" wide, so those flanges/drops/pendants are only 1/12" each. I couldn't find anything so narrow, so I simply reduced the number of flanges in my earrings to seven. I couldn't find brass spacer beads that were quite the same dimension as my iolite tubes - oh well! And I chose to use a bright brass (instead of a tarnished/aged brass) chain for the sides of the earrings, as I wanted to have a slightly more unified look overall.

Cost to me? A $10 strand of iolite tubes (I have a couple dozen left; I only used six of the beads), $1.20 for the chain; $0.80 for the headpins, $1.30 for the brass spacers (I always buy a few extras, in case I lose one during the project), and $1.79 for the brass. The ear hooks and jump rings are gold plated and probably a bit more expensive, but I already had them on hand from previous projects. So all in all, about $15 for a pair of earrings (with lots of leftover iolite to make more).

I discovered that I really like working with the square brass rod. I can hammer it on my anvil to uneven thicknesses and it still has a fairly regular width/profile. I like the uneven, rough-hewn organic effect. I'll have to play with it more in the future. And while making these flanges does take some hours, I rather like the effect of shaping, trimming, and filing so many small pieces. Fiddly work like this is calming for me. Maybe some more earrings (or necklaces?) are in my future - certainly, the 1920s aesthetic at Demimonde is totally inspiring. I might finally have a good use for a string of green garnet stones I bought last year.

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