Friday, April 29, 2016

Enchanted by enamel - an earring tutorial

Sometimes my Muse takes me on a scavenger hunt. Dropping little clues in front of me until I piece it all together. This happened recently at Bead Fest spring - let me take you through the process.

It started with these delicious enameled discs by Anne L. of Gardanne Beads. She had posted them in her FB sales group and I loved them - but what to do with them? So at Bead Fest I go to see them in person...

enamel discs by Anne of Gardanne beads

In my travel jewelry tote - because OF COURSE you pack really cool stuff to wear when vending (or attending) a bead show - I had these earrings by Melissa Manley. I met Melissa as I took her classes at Art Bliss a few years back. We have been friends and kindred spirits since that night! (Note to self - do not stay up too late drinking wine with your new friend when you have to be hammering in her class the next morning...) I adore her sense of color, and use of translucent enamels.You may have seen her book, Jewelry Lab?  
Inspiration earrings by Melissa Manley
Hey - Muse lights the light bulb! THIS style earring construction with THOSE enamel discs. OK! And it suits me - I like the inside of the discs where there are subtle color variations. You could use these discs facing either way... hang on. I will show you what I did. Its simple and ingenious!
(Thanks Melissa!)


20 gauge sterling wire
torch/green scrubby/polishing pad
miscellaneous beads: spacers and gems
size 8 seed beads (matte black)
size 2 crimps/pliers
bur cup tool thingee
chasing hammer/bench block

To engineer the earring.... 
1. Cut 6" lengths of wire. Ball the ends. Pickle and or polish as you normally do... 

2. Play with possible arrangements. I wanted to have a pop of interest inside the disc, but not take the attention away from the enamel. And not cover too much either...
Endless opportunities: (from top left) copper flower spacer, vintage Lucite flower, turquoise, hematite flat rondelle, sterling bead cap, copper and mother of pearl heist bead. 
I have a motley collection of leather bits and pieces - from Lindsay and other friends that work in leather. I love a little piece as a contrast, and a new texture. Now - using this amount at a time I have enough to last me a dozen life times...

Leather scraps
3. Decide on your combinations and thread them all together on your balled wire.
first batch ready to go
scraps of leather for a visual contrast
4. Slide on an 8 and a crimp, snug against the disc. Squeeze it flat with pliers. Hard. This secures your pieces against the head pin.

5. Shape your ear wire. Hammer/ work harden the ear wire at the bend with your chasing hammer. Now your ear wire will maintain its shape during wear. 
6. Trim wire to desired length - leaving a bit long as the counter balance to the earring. Smooth wire end with bur cup so it will be gentle on you ear.
Form the ear wire shape. Get a manicure!
Now - my local gallery had been asking me for more enameled earrings... so this is very timely. These pretties are off to The Palette and the Page this week! Its a pleasure to work with such gorgeous components and I hope you find this informative and/or inspirational. Until next time...
Ready to deliver to the gallery


  1. such a great idea of using leather - it would act as a buffer between the metal and the glass thereby reducing friction and noise produced as a result

  2. Love your earrings, very ingenious way to make everything tight with the crimp.

  3. Wow! What a brilliant idea to make use of some leather scraps I unearthed in my stash last winter! Thanks, Jenny, for the great tutorial!


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