Trying Something New : Making Earrings with Isabel

Back in the summer, my friend Isabel and I got talking about trying to make our own earrings. Then, we scheduled a date to do so … and then rescheduled … and then rescheduled again. I’m glad to say that we finally found a time that worked and we’ve done it! And now, I think I can speak for Issy when I say, we are both hooked!

A couple of Sundays ago, we met near the bead shops on Queen Street West (about which I wrote in this post) to get our supplies. I’d done a bit of research ahead of time to figure out what we needed, and had already purchased three different pairs of jewellery making pliers, and pulled a pair of regular wire-cutters out of Nick’s toolbox.

So, what we needed to buy for our very basic beginners session were earring hooks, things called headpins, which are lengths of wire with a flattened end that you string beads onto. And, of course, we also needed the fun part — the beads.

As for the earring hooks and headpins, while they’re available in different kinds of metals, we wanted to stick with sterling silver ones, especially for the hooks as they’d have direct contact with our skin, and we wanted to avoid any chance of allergic reactions or, more importantly, the frightening thought that the metal would contain cadmium. (Did you see this CBC segment about the unethical but regular use of poisonous cadmium in some costume jewellery making? Yikes!).

(Note: I’m not saying that all non-sterling silver jewellery-making metal parts contain cadmium, just that there’s a chance that some might, especially if they are sold at a really low price. I assume that silver-plated items are fine, as I’m told that the base metal is usually nickle-free brass — nickle being an element that many people are allergic to. Also, I’ve since discovered a nice range of findings at Michaels that are made from stainless steel — that’s what medical tools are made from so they’ll surely be safe to use.)

When we arrived at the shops we found that the one we particularly wanted to go to, Arton Beads, was closed on Sundays.

But that didn’t stop us, as we are spoiled for choice in the “bead district”, so crossed the street to a couple of shops that were open. First, we checked out a shop that I’d not been to before, The Beadery.

This store is quite different from the others in the area, in that the proprietor is an experienced jeweler and the place is decidedly more upscale. In addition to offering all kinds of beads, many of which were handmade, they also had cases full of gorgeous, already-made, rings. And, to top it off, at the back of the shop there was a large cage housing a charming family of parakeets!

When we asked the jeweler if he had sterling hooks he surprised us by saying he didn’t stock them but he could make some for us, then and there, out of the purest silver wire to be found. He encouraged us to watch so we could learn to make our own in the future. We left his shop with two pairs each, of beautiful hooks that were works of art in themselves. Price-wise, at $8 a pair they were more expensive than the factory made sterling silver hooks found elsewhere, but they were so lovely, and we’d been taught how to make them as well, so we were happy.

From there, we went next door to a shop called “Bling Bling”, that contained so many stunning beads and a wall full of tiny bags containing things like the headpins we needed, and some silver-plated balls we also liked.

One minor shortcoming was that most of the beads came in strings containing many more pieces than we needed to make our earrings, however, they also had an area that contained several choices of single beads. It was there that I found the genuine Hematite beads that would become a pair of earrings to match a necklace I have, an often-worn gift from my beloved in-laws, purchased during this trip to Salt Spring Island, on Canada’s west coast.

That area of the shop was also where Isabel found a couple of stunning freshwater pearls. (To give you an idea of price, each set cost us only $1.67, so about $.85 per piece.)

While we loved what we found in that section of the shop, the choices were limited, so we ended up getting one string of purple beads. Made of dyed jade, they looked very much like Amethyst, so in lieu of the real thing, they’d do just fine for our purposes. The string was $10 and after using 12 of them we still have quite a few left over for a future project.

With our shopping done, we picked up a bottle of wine and headed over to our place to get creating.

^ Our wine choice, photographed by Isabel with her phone : Les Jamelles Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very nice, and Nick and I have since had it again. ^

^ The handmade sterling hooks from The Beadery. ^

We discovered that making earrings is so much fun!

Knowing that we’d be seeing our mutual friend Andrea for her birthday party the following weekend (written about here), we decided to make her a pair of the purple ones too. Well, we made the dangling part and Issy went back to the shop during the week to pick up more hooks.

A quick search told us that Amethyst is the birthstone for February, making them an even more perfect gift for Andrea. As Isabel put it, we are now “the sisterhood of the purple earrings”.

^ I ended up removing the silver balls from my Hematite pair, as I was finding them a bit too swingy. ^

While neither of us will boast about this first-time attempt ending with perfect results, we were quite thrilled with our new earrings. We’ve both been back to the shops, including Arton, to get more supplies. Undoubtedly, we will be practicing the art of jewellery making, here on out!

Thank you very much for checking out my site. I hope you have a great weekend.
xo loulou

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13 Responses to Trying Something New : Making Earrings with Isabel

  1. Enjoy your blog, which I only just found a month ago. Just got back from three days in Tronna and bead shopping for myself and my business.

    You guys really need to come to The Gem Expo in two weeks, March 17, 18 & 19 at the Hyatt Regency, tons of beads, tons of dealers and jewellery makers and a whole lot of classes. Free admission all three days if you sign up for a class. I’m teaching two classes, Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker/Mala Bracelets and a Tools, Tips & Tricks course where you’ll learn about tools and rules (and where and when to break them) and different wires and how to bash the snot out of them to make all kinds of findings, including earwires, head pins, dangles, etc. Bashing the snot out of things is my favourite thing in the whole world. http://www.thegemexpo.com

  2. Loulou says:

    Hi Barbara :) I’m happy to virtually meet you.

    For a few seconds there, I was wondering where Tronna was! lol.

    The Gem Expo certainly sounds interesting and it’s just down the street from me, so I might very well go.

    • It’s a total hoot — you will love it. All kinds of crystals and low to high end beads, finished jewellery of all styles and price ranges, and people who import from all over the world. I started out just like you — didn’t even know what a jump ring was, and now I’m a vendor. This show is well worth coming to. I’ve been a vendor there for… I think this will be my fourth year? I sell weird stuff, skulls, etc, and am set up to do a little bit of custom work while people wait or they can come back the next day and/or a friend will do the delivery in the next few days if a customer can’t return to the show.

      It would be great to meet you! Bring friends! We like friends of friends of friends.

  3. oh HOW FUN! i want to come over!! wine and making jewlery– genius. why cant you be my neighbor?!
    xO!
    http://www.thehautecookie.com

  4. Norma says:

    Fun to make your own jewellery. Your results are lovely. X

  5. Vix says:

    One of my birthday presents from a friend is a day with a local silversmith making jewellery, so this post has got me all fired up!
    That bead shop looks great, there’s one local to us but everything all feeble and tiny. That looks far more up my alley.
    Love what you made! xxx

  6. Julie says:

    What a super fun idea, and so many gorgeous beads!! I would have been totally sucked at those stores, and want to make everything! Love how your earrings turned out.

  7. Hena Tayeb says:

    you both did a wonderful jobs.. i loved visiting all the bead and jewelry supply shops with you.

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