Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make yourself an inexpensive and very lovely pair of earrings! These are made by sandwiching a headpin between two flat back gems (also called rhinestones, crystals or glue-on gems).
You’ll need: 4 flat black gems, 2 head pins, 2 hooks, jewellery pliers and a hot glue gun. For more information regarding jewellery hooks and pliers see myprevious post here. For information on creating basic earrings see this post.
1. Get the gems ready.
2. Lay headpins in centre of gems with end of headpin lined up with base of gem.
3. Bend the headpin to a 90 degree angle by pressing back over the top of the gem – you’ll need to hold the headpin in place while you do this.
4. Using the jewellery pliers, cut the headpin back to leave approximately 1cm of metal.
5. Make a loop at top of headpin.
6. Place gems on newspaper. Centre headpins on top.
7. Get glue gun ready.
8. Place a dab of hot glue in centre – you won’t that need much.
9. Place the other gem on top. You’ll have about 5-10 seconds to move the gem about before the glue sets. First check that the headpin is centred and the base of pin is sitting at exactly the base of gem. Next make sure the two gems are aligned perfectly on top of each other, then check the sides to see if the width of gap between them is even.
10. Here is what they should look like.
11. Add hooks and they are ready to wear!
These are super quick and easy earrings to make. It will probably take a few goes before you get good results though, so I would recommend practicing on the gems you like least first.
Gems are easily available from craft shops and online craft/jewellery stores in a variety of shapes and colours. See my links page for some potential suppliers. They do come is varying degrees of quality. The ones I have pictured were just basic ones from a local craft shop – I got a packet of about 20 for $4. I have bought some much cheaper ones in bulk and did notice quite a big drop in quality – their foils were scratched and their surfaces fairly dull. Swarovski make some extremely beautiful glass ones – they are $5 or so each though. In the coming months I’ll do a tutorial on making your own extra special unique ones!
The hot glue should hold the gems together well. I have had a pair fall apart while transporting them in a box of other earrings. They should be easy to fix with a tiny bit more glue, but if you want to make sure they are super strong I’d suggested filling the gap with some super glue. If the gap bothers you I have a few ideas. You could fill gap in with glue and paint the sides with paint or nail polish. There is also something which I think is called mapping tape. It is basically very thin tape. The one I have is black and just a tiny bit larger than the gap between gems. I have tried doing a pair with the tape, beginning it to on one side of the loop and finishing it at the other. It looked ok but didn’t stick too well on its on – I had to use glue and in the end it all became a bit awkward. I’m sure it’s doable. I think they look absolutely fine with a gap though.
One other issue I’ve noticed is that the hot glue can mark the silver foil on particular gems, which will then show through on the finished earrings. It usually won’t be that noticeable but if it really bugs you you could try painting a layer of mod podge or some other sealant on the foil before using the hot glue.
Here is another idea. The sew-on gems come with holes already drilled into them so you can put an earring hook in straight away. You will probably need to increase the size of the hook’s loop to be able to do this – see this previous postfor more information on how to do that (you’ll find it halfway done the post). You may also want to apply a layer of mod podge to back of gem foil so it doesn’t get scratched. I have tried drilling holes into some of the other gems – this didn’t work at all and nearly broke the drill bit! Try at own risk!
You could also attach an earring post finding to one of the flatback’s with jewellery glue. I’ll write more about making earring posts later. Post findings would be available at any of the supply sites in my links tab.
I’ll be writing more tutorials on making jewellery and accessories from flat back gems soon – I love them so much! Would love to hear about your experience with this.