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Ear wires- materials and temper


#1

I have been making my own ear wires and love the look. I have been
using 20g hh or hard sterling. Which is fine, sometimes, but since I
work with base metals a lot (particularly copper) I sometimes what
to match the metal color. Given that these components are basically
inserted, what metals are suitable for use as ear wires.

My next question is that I have been using 20g half hard, then
hammering to work harden (I don’t have a tumbler). I find this is
okay, but still not as sturdy as what I find available commercially.
I have also tried 22g hard, but even the hard when hammered isn’t
sturdy enough (even though I prefer the size). Further this is
sterling, since copper is all soft, I’m not sure it would even be
possible to get copper to be as sturdy as would be required in an ear
wire. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Heather


#2

I’d be chary of using anything other than non-reactive metals for ear
wires. Nobody likes green earlobes. That said, have a look at
phosphor bronze. It can be hardened to use for springs. It has a
lovely, warm bronze tone. You can get it from McMaster-Carr, but not
in sample quantities.


#3

Heather,

It’s possible that the commercially available ear wires are alloys
designed for hardness, but you can harden your own wire, anyway.

When I’m making ear wires, or anything that needs a nice hard piece
of wire, I just stretch the wire a little. Most of the wire I have on
hand is soft to start out with, by necessity, so when I need a piece
to be stiff and springy, I lock one end in a vise or clamp of some
sort, grab the other end with pliers, and carefully extend it.

It’s a good idea to do this along the edge of a bench, or with some
other reference, if you want consistent results, because you can
easily monitor the change in length that way. I do it by feel,
having done it so much, but it is possible to get carried away… you
can try setting a target length as some small percentage of the
over-all length and put marks along the bench, or even lay a
yardstick or tape measure next to it.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com/


#4

Hi Heather,

My next question is that I have been using 20g half hard, then
hammering to work harden (I don't have a tumbler). I find this is
okay, but still not as sturdy as what I find available
commercially. I have also tried 22g hard, but even the hard when
hammered isn't sturdy enough (even though I prefer the size).
Further this is sterling, since copper is all soft, I'm not sure it
would even be possible to get copper to be as sturdy as would be
required in an ear 

You can work harden wire by twisting it.

Make a small loop on one end of a piece of wire. Then clamp the
other end in a vise or twist it around a nail driven into a sturdy
support. Put a cup hook or a hook you fashion yourself in the chuck
of a drill. Place the loop in the wire over the hook. Draw the wire
taut & run the drill. Twisting the wire about it’s own axis will
harden the wire. You may see some lines on the wire, but they are
just in the dirt on the surface of the wire & can be rubbed off. The
length of time the wire is twisted will determine it’s hardness.

Just about any length of wire can be hardened this way from a few
inches to many feet. If you are just hardening a few inches, you may
want to use a pin vise instead of a drill.

Dave


#5

I use copper ear wires often. Usually I purchase them, but I have
also made my own. Copper wire does come in soft and half hard. Not
sure if it comes in full hard. But the half hard works fine for ear
wires - especially if you hammer them or tumble them a bit.

While it is true that some people are sensitive to copper, most
people are not and they do not mind wearing the copper ear wires.
Copper does tend to oxidize easily, but it is also easily cleaned.
Tell you customers to dip them in a lemon juice/salt solution, then
rinse to keep the shiny color.


#6

I would not use copper as earwires. It could infect the ears. I use
hh 20 gauge without problems.

Good luck. Vince


#7

Hello Orchidland,

I’ve been my own guinea pig for copper ear wires. So far (about a
month of almost daily wear) I have a bit of darkness right at the ear
holes, but that’s all. No infection or tenderness. I have let the
copper patina, but it really has not changed color as much as it has
lost a shiny finish and dulled a bit. The experiment continues…

Judy in Kansas, where I have seen 4 turtles rambling around, but
only 2 were interested in eating today.