Intro to Stakes: Fold Forming Leaf Earrings

Copper and Brass Dangling Leaf Earrings

Our new metalsmithing stakes and TruStrike hammers are the perfect excuse to get into the jewelry making studio and experiment with forming and texture. Here’s a project you can make in an afternoon or evening!

Materials (for a 1×3″ leaf):

4″x6″ 24ga Copper Sheet (Item#: CBW24)
20″ length of 16ga Brass Wire (Item#: RBW16)
4″ length of 18ga Copper Wire (Item#: CBW18)
4″ 20ga Copper Wire (Item#: CBW20) for ear wires

Supplies

Designing:

  • Graph Paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Permanent Marker

Soldering

  • Solder – Medium (Item#: XS20M)
  • Flux (Item# X950 or X952)
  • Torch
  • Pickle (Item# X163 or X802) Mix according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pickle Pot (Item# X584)
  • Water
  • Soldering Pick (Item# X930)
  • Copper Tongs (Item# X958)
  • Third Hand (Item# X165 or XT119)
  • Solderite Board (Item# X420)

Hammers

  • Planishing (Item# X527 set)
  • Raising (Item# X527 set)
  • Rawhide (Item# X421 or X419)

Stakes

Miscellaneous

Note: This project will take approximately 2-3 hours. Gauges and sizes can be altered to suit your needs.

Step 1. Start with two 2″x3″ pieces of copper sheet.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 2

Step 2. Draw a leaf shape on graph paper, cut it out and use a permanent marker to trace around it on the copper sheets. Or, simply draw the shape straight onto the sheets.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 3

Step 3. Cut out the shapes using sheet shears or a saw.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 4

Step 4. The next step is to fold the two leaves in half. The point of this step is to make a very distinct midrib in your leaf. Working with one piece at a time, place the leaf halfway into the bench vise. Hammer it with the rawhide hammer to fold the top half down. Repeat with the other leaf. Each leaf should be in an “L” shape now.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 5

Step 5. Move a leaf to your bench block. Use a rawhide hammer to hammer it down the rest of the way so it’s completely folded in half. Repeat for the other leaf.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 6

Step 6. Your pieces are probably pretty work-hardened at this point, so anneal them with your torch and then quickly quench them in water. Note: you will repeat this step several times during this project.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 7

Step 7. Now that the pieces are annealed and flat, trim around the edges of the leaves with sheet shears so they are even on all sides.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 8

Step 8. Next, use a raising stake (or a bench block) and a forming hammer to add texture. Hammer stripes in the blades of the leaves perpendicular to the midrib. Flip over and repeat on the opposite side as well.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 9

Step 9. Anneal and quench the leaves.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 10

Step 10. Place a leaf on a bench block. Measure 1/4″ down from the top of the leaf, centered from side to side. Mark this spot with a permanent marker, then create an indentation over it by using a centerpunch. Move the leaf to a wooden block and drill a hole through the indentation using a Flex Shaft (or Dremel) and a 1mm drill bit.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 11

Step 11. Carefully use a thin blade and your fingers to gently pry your leaves open until they are just slightly “V” shaped.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 12

Step 12. Place the leaves one at a time on a double convex stake. Use a raising hammer to pound lightly at the middle on one side of the midrib, working your way down the leaf. The edges will start to curl up and look more like a natural leaf. Hammer lightly down the midrib to soften the angle.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 13

Step 13. Anneal and quench both leaves. Drop them into a pickle pot and let them sit until fairly clean, then rinse and dry.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 14

Step 14. This is what your pieces should look like at this stage.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 15

Step 15. (Optional) To get an oxidized finish, place your leaves in a pot of Liver of Sulphur for a few minutes. Pull them out and remove some of the LOS using Dawn soap and water while scrubbing with either steel wool (extra fine #0000) or a steel brush. This will leave a shiny, brushed look to your leaves.

Step 16. Set your leaves aside for now and let’s create the dangling brass accents.

Step 17. Take your 16ga brass wire and cut three different lengths of wire. I cut mine at 2″, 3″ and 4″ lengths. Make another set for the other earring.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 18

Step 18. Shape a basic loop on one end of each wire using round nose pliers. Make your loops large enough for an 18ga wire to slip through easily.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 19

Step 19. Working with one wire at a time, use a third hand to hold the wire high enough to heat the straight end from underneath with the torch. Keep the flame on it until the wire rolls up into a ball, then quickly remove the torch. (If you keep the heat on it for too long, the ball will fall right off of the wire. You may want to practice this first.) Drop the wire into the pickle. Repeat this step for all of the wires.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 20

Step 20. (Optional) To shine up the accents, I used a Flex Shaft with a diamond coated tip to give the wires a bright, sandblasted look. Just run the diamond tip lightly around the entire surface of the wire and ball.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 21

Step 21. Take the 18ga copper wire and cut it into two 2″ pieces. Starting with one wire, shape it into a u-shape and hang three brass accents of different lengths onto it. Turn the copper wire into a loop to lock the brass accents onto it. Repeat this step with the other copper wire.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 22

Step 22. Run the ends of the copper loops through the hole you drilled in the leaf. (My original holes weren’t quite large enough to maneuver the wires through, so I enlarged the holes with a Diamond Reamer to make it easier.) Repeat this step for the second leaf.

Halstead Jewelry Blog: Step 23

Step 23. Prep the loop for soldering. Sand the tips of the copper wire to remove oil and dirt and be sure the join is flush. Place a leaf dangle into the third hand with the loop up and away from the rest of the piece (you don’t want to heat the leaf if you can avoid it). Flux the loop and add a piece of medium solder to the join. Heat until it flows, then hold it upside down and place just the loop into the pickle pot to clean it. Rinse and dry. Repeat this step with the other leaf.

(Soldering takes practice. If you’re new to it, here’s a guide to help you get started: 5 Steps to Start Silver Soldering.)

Step 24. To make your own ear wire, use round-nose pliers to make a small loop on one end of a 2″ length of wire. Bend the other end of the wire around the widest part of your pliers to make the hook shape. Use a wire rounder to remove any abrasive burrs from the end of the wire. Repeat to make a second earring. (Brush the ear wires with Jewelry Shield if you are concerned about placing copper in the ears.)

Step 25. Connect your leaf dangles to the ear wire loops and you’re done!

Halstead is one of North America’s leading distributors of jewelry supplies. Halstead specializes in wholesale findings, chain, tools and metals for jewelry artists.


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  • I got a chill when I saw your Ad and even the minimum purchase, I thought “Pish Tosh”, I was getting so geeked, but then I saw the Wholesale only bit (sob) does that mean I must have a tax I.D. to (gulp) buy from Halstead ? I am into soldering, and metalwork, and oh well just give me the n-n-ews. I’m old I can take it. Thanks so much, Nancy Peters

    • Hi Nancy!

      We’re so excited that you are interested in buying from us! Where are you located? Based on the current laws, you only have to have a Tax ID Number to buy from us if you live in Arizona. For all other locations, the only requirement is our $100 Minimum Purchase.

      I hope that’s good news! Please call us at 800-528-0535 if you have any additional questions.

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