Silver Filigree Earcuff

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About: I am a software enginer, who have a passion for all kind of craft. For last 5 years jewelry making was an obsession and real enjoyment for me.

This project is example of classic filigree technic. It's allow to create very complicated jewelry based only on wire and basic soldering process.

I've been obsessed by look and charm of "lace from silver" from day one as I saw it.

Project like this is consider, you already have to master basic jeweler solder technic by gas torch. This earcuff can be finished in 4-8 hours.

Required materials:

  • sterling silver wire 20 ga (thick wire, used for the frame)
  • sterling silver wire 24 ga (twisted thing wire for small details)
  • medium silver solder

Tools:

List of tools provided for reference only and can be substituted to any suitable alternative.

Step 1: Step 1: Design and Layout

First of all you need to draw 1:1 size design of future earcuff. It may require take some measurements. Easiast way to do it - wrap small piece of paper around edge of ear.

Step 2: Step 2: Create Outer Frame of Earcuff

Before you start cutting and bending wire, you have to "prepare" it.

We will use Sterling Silver wire of 20 ga to make a frame.

Using Rolling Mill, flatter it to the half of original diameter. After rolling wire will be hardened and will show some resistance when you attempt to bend it to the shape. To bring it back to soft and easy bendable condition you need to anneal it. Process is very simple - you have to heat it up to the red color and then let it cool down.

Annealing is very important to this technic - wire will release any internal tensions when heat applied. If you skip this process, wires will change a positions at next step.

Step 3: Step 3: Soldering Frame

After you cut to size and bend all fragments of your earcuff frame it is time to solder it together.

Important:

  1. Jewelry soldering doesn't fill up any "gaps"; You have to make sure solderable pieces touching each other;
  2. Flux is you best friend; As soon as you apply flame to the item oxidation will begins and solder will not flow;
  3. Apply heat evenly to whole item first and only at last moment move flame to the area of contact;

If you have limited experience with torch soldering I suggest to try first on sample pieces of wire and only then attempt to solder complicated design.

Here number of ways exist how to perform soldering. My preferable way:

  • lay out elements on soldering brick
  • add flux, one drop on each contact point where soldering will be performed;
  • apply a slight heat to dry out flux;
  • put a little chip of solder on top of each soldering point
  • heat up whole item from edges to center; continuously move the flame;
  • after whole item start show "slight glow" red, concentrate heat on soldering points and remove torch as soon solder melted and gets "sucked in" between solderable parts;

After soldering finished you will see item covered by different level of oxidation. To remove oxidation item has to be "pickled"; In list of tools Soldering kit contain pickling solution. Dipping oxidised item into solution will bring it back to bright white color.

Step 4: Step 4: Fill Up Filigree Into Frame

After frame finished it is time to fill it by small curls of twisted wire.

To prepare twisted wire you can use any electric or hand drill. Take a piece of 24ga silver wire about 3ft long, bend it in half and hook it up to the nail you fix into workbench. Other ends of wire fix in drill chuck and start twisting wire together on slow speed.

Important:

  • Same point as after rolling - you have to anneal wire after twisting;

Twisted and annealed wire now has to be rolled. Same rule applies here as for rolling frame wire - you have to flatter wire to half of diameter.

One more time: ANNEAL!!!!

Soldering small elements inside of frame follow same principle as soldering frame.

Step 5: Step 5: Form to the Shape

When soldering done, it is very important to pickle whole thing to remove any sign of oxidation or flux stuck between curls;

You can use 800 to 1000 grit sand paper to apply finish on complete item;

Forming earcuff to the shape done over small wooden dowel. Don't use pliers or still hummer to bend it. If piece too resistant to be bend by hand you can use wooden or rubber mallet to help.

If you design includes some decorative elements - now time to connect them.

CONGRATULATION! YOU ARE DONE.

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    14 Discussions

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    lapsmith

    27 days ago

    Very unique and beautiful! I may try to make this for my girlfriend.
    What do you use to pickle it?
    Any way to flatten the wire without a rolling mill?
    What kind of finish did you apply?

    4 replies
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    posox2000lapsmith

    Reply 26 days ago

    In tools section you can found link to soldering kit. This kit include pickling solution I using for all my projects. You can replace it with citric acid without compromising results. Depends on concentration it may need more time for solution to work.
    You can replace real Rolling mill with "Polymer Clay Press" like this one from Michaels.com (https://www.michaels.com/studio-71-polymer-clay-press/D071729S.html?productsource=SLOT%3ARecently%20Viewed#q=clay%20tools&pmpt=qualifying&sz=24&start=25)
    It is not so powerful, but will do the trick. You just need to anneal wire more often when you rolling it.
    Finish is up to you, but I prefer just polish it to high gloss.

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    lapsmithposox2000

    Reply 26 days ago

    I have a sheet metal roller which may be too big for delicate wire, but I'll give it a shot. BTW, what do you use to polish it, just silver polish? Thanks again!

    0
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    lapsmithposox2000

    Reply 25 days ago

    Good idea about the copper. And thanks for the links and for posting this!

    0
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    posox2000seamster

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    thank you, it is took a time to master soldering, but it is a really worth it!