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Fold-Formed Earrings Tutorial
Created by: Polly Nobbs-LaRue
Jewelry Lab: 52 Experiments, Investigations and Explorations in Metal has a great tutorial on fold forming.
To make a matching pair of earrings, cut 2 squares or rectangles of silver sheet, and fold each in half as precisely as possible. Use a nylon hammer to flatten the fold. Then cut a design (half an oval, half a teardrop, etc.) out of paper, and use the template to trace and cut out matching shapes on the folded edge of each piece of metal.
Using the chisel end of a riveting hammer, hammer along either the folded side OR the non-folded side of both earrings until you decide you're done, BEFORE you unfold EITHER one. This helps your pair be a close match.
This pair was half a teardrop, and hammered along the NON-folded side. Always keep the chisel tip perpendicular to the edge of the piece.
As you hammer (remember you picked ONE: either the folded side OR the non-folded side, and your chisel tip is always perpendicular to your metal edge), watch with joy as your piece beings to fan out.
Anneal and quench as necessary whenever the metal becomes too hard to move. If you don't, progress slows down, and even worse, the piece may shatter!
You can solder your own custom-made fine-silver ear wires into the crevice of the fold, or (before unfolding the design) punch a hole 1-2mm from the top, on the fold line, and dangle these from pre-made ear wires.
When you decide you're done, anneal and quench again, and unfold each piece to an amount that is pleasing to your eye. (An oyster knife is ideal to help you unfold the pieces. A butter knife, letter opener, or an old dull non-serrated knife can also work.)
When soldering the ear wire onto the form, you might want to carve a groove into the fire brick to help hold the fold-formed piece.
Use the tweezers for quenching the piece, and also for propping the ear wire when soldering. A "3rd Hand" tool can help properly position the tweezers when soldering.
Other forms of solder are also fine for this, but paste solder is the easiest to get down into the crevice.
When done, tumble for a bright finish, or antique with liver of sulfur for a vintage finish.