Copper jewelry is relatively inexpensive to make; it's also popular for the health-giving qualities it supposedly imparts when it contacts the skin, and for its earthy and warm in appearance. A soft metal that comes in wire, sheet and beads for jewelry-making, copper is easy to hammer and bend. If untreated, it will tarnish over time to a green patina. Beginners can learn how to make copper jewelry using copper-wire jewelry components and beads. This project features copper earrings made with copper findings.
Look for copper-wire head pins, copper chandelier earring components, copper beads, and copper ear wires at jewelry supply stores. Choose 4- to 8-mm stone or glass beads--or even natural beads in bone and shell--in neutral, earthy colors to offset copper's warm reddish color (or the green color it will become). Make sure the drill holes on the wood and shell beads you choose are not too large: They should just fit over 20-gauge wire, the standard thickness for ear wires.
On each 3-inch copper head pin, place an assortment of copper beads and your decorative beads in stone, glass, wood or shell. Mix up the arrangements so no two are alike. When you make copper jewelry, you should remember that copper is a very organic-looking metal and is complemented by a less organized, more eclectic design, like the mix of beads you're using in these earrings.
Using your jeweler's round-nose pliers, make a loop on the top of each head pin, but don't finish it. With your bent-nose or chain-nose pliers, set each open loop inside each hole of the two copper chandelier components--10 in all. One by one, using the same pliers, finish wrapping the loops so each dangle is securely fastened to its chandelier component. You should now have two chandelier components with an eclectic mix of copper and other earth-tone beads.
With your bent-nose pliers or chain-nose pliers, open the loop on an ear wire and slide on the top loop of the chandelier component. If your chandelier component is one-sided, make sure the correct side is facing out (on the convex side of the ear wire) before you close the loop. Close the loop so the chandelier earring is secure. Repeat this step with the other chandelier component.
Run a treated polishing cloth over the metal components. When you make copper jewelry, store it in non-tarnish tissue paper if you want to minimize its tarnishing and let it keep its shiny, fiery copper shade. If you want to let it tarnish, it will acquire an attractive antiqued look.
More advanced jewelry makers can cut 18-gauge copper wire with flush cutters, hammer one end and file it to make a paddle shape, and attach the other end (by forming a loop with round-nose pliers) to alternate holes in the chandelier components.
When copper touches your skin, your skin may become discolored, but this should not harm you. If you do think you are having an allergic reaction, call your doctor.