Earring Art

Earring Materials

Distinctive and beautiful handmade earrings in aluminium, copper, silver and glass

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Copper has a beautiful, glowing, bohemian look and was first used to make jewellery around 7000 years ago. Wearing copper is said to have health benefits.


Aluminium is lighter than steel, copper and brass and is strong, durable and versatile. Aluminium doesn't tarnish, making it very practical for jewellery use.


Sterling silver looks very much like white gold and platinum but is less expensive. It is highly versatile and will look good with any outfit. Wearing a piece of sterling silver will actually help prevent tarnish build-up.


Niobium, named after the Greek goddess Niobe, is a hypoallergenic, lustrous, light grey, ductile, metallic chemical element. It is considered safe to wear for even those most sensitive to metal allergies and is particularly suitable for earring wires. It will not tarnish.


Titanium is an excellent choice for people with allergies and is therefore especially useful for making earring wires. This very inert metal was discovered in Cornwall in 1791 and named after the Titans of Greek mythology. It has a low density, high strength and is highly corrosion-resistant.


Lampwork beads are handmade glass beads, made by melting rods of colourful glass. This glass is then wound around a thin metal rod, forming a bead. The bead can then be embellished using a variety of techniques and materials, making each one unique. The beads are then annealed, a process which involves slowly cooling them in a kiln, thus making the beads strong and durable.


Crackle glass is produced by plunging molten glass into cold water. The thermal shock causes the surface of the glass to crack. A fresh layer of glass is then added and reheated until the cracks fuse together so that the glass maintains its stability.


Indian glass beads are made in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes and in a variety of ways. They may be moulded, wound or drawn. Indian glass beads add a vibrant and unique jewellery element.

Moulded glass beads are formed by pressing between to parts of a mould. This will often form a raised seam which can be polished away by tumbling in a cask with other materials. This process will also add polish.

Wound beads are formed by winding moulten glass around a rod called a mandrel, following an ancient technique. The beads are made individually. (See Lampwork glass, above)

In the manufacture of drawn beads, many identical beads can be made at once. The process was perfected many centuries before mechanisation. One person manipulated a hollow globe while another person took one end and moved away, drawing out a tube of glass. The tube was then laid down to cool before being cut into sections and then into bead lengths.


Daniel Swarovski, born in Bohemia in 1862, developed a machine to cut glass to meet growing market demands. He refined the crystal, which imitates rock crystal, to a state of perfect brilliance in his Austrian factory. Swarovski cut crystals and stones are considered to be the world's best.


When European tradespeople first went to West Africa they found a ready market for Italian glass beads. Ghana's beadmakers are keeping that tradition alive today using recycled glass, including bottle glass to create beautiful coloured glass beads. A variety of techniques are employed but the basic concept is simple. Layers of powdered recycled glass are poured into moulds and then fired in a kiln. The glass fuses at a low temperature. Some of the patterns come from layers of powdered glass mixed with dyes, while other beads may have designs painted onto the polished bead surface. Powder glass has a granular feel to it.


The beads EarringArt uses are made in Ghana. Lost wax dates back to the 9th Century and is the same technique that was used to cast the famous Benin Bronzes, now housed in the British Museum in London. The beads are first fashioned in bees' wax before encasing in a clay mould. When the mould is fired in a kiln the bees' wax melts and is displaced by molten brass. The brass used in African beads is often recycled from such items as old car parts or padlocks. Once cooled the mould is broken open to reveal the finshed bead. Because the mould is broken each bead is totally unique.


Polymer clay is a non-toxic synthetic clay. It is a polymer compound for artists made of fine particles of polyvinyl chloride plus pigments, suspended in a plasticizer to keep it soft until it is cured.


Metal clay consists of metal particles mixed with an organic binder. This creates a material with a consistency similar to modelling clay. When the clay is fired the binders are burnt away leaving only the fused metal particles.


Birch bark is very lightweight and durable. The birch bark beads used by EarringArt are not made from the bark of living trees. They are hand-rolled from single pieces of birch bark and are totally unique.


Paper beads are stylish, lightweight and eco-friendly. They can be made in many colours and shapes.


Resin is very strong, lightweight and impact resistant. With the use of heat it can be manipulated into beautiful glass-like organic forms.

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