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JADE EARRINGS, WITH STERLING EARWIRES, often made of cutoffs from other jade carvings. Other than annealing, all of these earwires are made without a torch. Photographs by Stephen L. Myhre.

Master Class


Making Earwires

 


 

 

I owe a debt of gratitude to Robert K. Liu of Ornament, who led me through the first steps to making earwires in 1984 (Liu 1986). They have gone through quite a few changes over the years and now I make them a lot more simply. The first generation of wires had a melt back on the end of the wire so that when the wire was bent around the shaft of the wire, there was a bright silver ball above the closed loop. However, given my primary direction of making things as simple as possible, the melt back had to go. It is always a bit difficult to control the melt back so that it is shiny and easily polished, and many of my early attempts got burnt out and became rough textured on the surface.

The start is the wire. I only use sterling silver. It would be good to use low karat gold but I like to keep the cost down, so sterling silver is my choice, though it has become much more expensive in recent times. I use two different thicknesses, 1 millimeter and 0.8 millimeter for the smaller earrings. I have had some feedback that the 1 millimeter wires are a bit thick for some people but thinner wires tend to deform too easily, and as I am hanging a lot of jade as earrings I like the notion that the wire is strong enough to last a while. In order for the wire to be as robust as possible I always buy hard wire, as opposed to annealed, which saves time hardening the wire by working it before the wires are made, or forging after the bends are put in.

 

 


 

 

 

Stephen L. Myhre
Stephen L. Myhre started woodcarving in 1974 as a balance for university study. Gradually the carving became more important and today Myhre is a celebrated jeweler and carver, working in materials like wood, bone, ivory, shell, and stones such as the rich jades abundant in his native New Zealand. Myhre has lived in and carved in places ranging from the South Pacific to Russia. He is the author of Bone Carving, A Skillbase of Techniques and Concepts, an invaluable resource on carving. His last article for Ornament was on handstoning jade in 2011. His jewelry is available in the United Sates at Freehand Gallery in Los Angeles, where he has shown for many decades.

 

 

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