People often think that metalworking is complicated, and involves torches and expensive equipment, but it's just not true! Today's hammered earring tutorial will show you that all you need are a few basic supplies (and yes, one of them is a hammer). This is a great project to start with if you're just getting into metal working and mixed media jewelry, because it only takes about 10 minutes to create your own textured metal accessories.
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- Stamping Hammer
- Steel Bench Block
- Dapping Block & Punch Set
- 2 - 25mm (1 inch) Round Vintaj Brass Blanks
- Reliefing Block
- Chain Nose Pliers
- Brass earring wires and optional jump rings
Hammered brass is exactly that: Vintaj brass discs that you add texture to, with your hammer. You will want a ball peen hammer for this project, or if you make the small investment in a 1 lb. stamping hammer, one side is rounded. That's what I'm using today.
There's no right or wrong way to get started - just place your disc on a steel bench block, and start striking! You will want to make sure your strikes end up close together (you can fill in any gaps as you go) for an all-over effect. The steel block will protect your work surface, and it also helps you to get deeper impressions. Just keep hammering on both blanks until you get the look you like.
Using a reliefing block (or very fine sandpaper), gently buff your disc until you remove as much patina as you like to suit your tastes. The more you polish it, the lighter and more shiny it will become, so start by buffing just a little at a time.
Below is what a fully hammered blank looks like. It will begin to curve on its own from the metal being displaced. You can use a nylon hammer to hammer it out flat on the backside (nylon won't mar the surface and will flatten it out more evenly), or, you can continue on to step 3, and I'll show you how to create even domes.
Doming the discs will ensure that they're both relatively uniform, and it's also another effect that can make your piece look more like a boutique accessory. Each dapping block will have bowls of various sizes and depths. Choose the look that appeals to you, and place your disc inside. I've made mine concave, but if you want a puffy look, you can easily flip the disc over and make it convex instead.
I'm using the large punch, because I've chosen a relatively shallow bowl, my disc is larger - about an inch - and Vitaj brass blanks are quite easy to manipulate. For thicker gauge metals, you will have the best luck if you begin with the large punch and then use the small punch to help with any flat spots.
Just place the punch over the disc, and tap the top of it with your hammer, and it will flatten itself into the bowl. Move the punch around, and rotate the disc within the dapping block. When you've gotten all the flat spots hammered out, then you can dome the other disc.
Now that most of the work is done, you just need to assemble your earrings! Using your jewelry pliers, you can either open up the hook at the bottom of the ear wire, or connect the disc to the wire using a small jump ring. Whenever you open rings, twist them open, don't pull - they'll close much more easily.
What I like best about hammering is that you get a really professional-looking effect in about ten minutes - and quick projects are my favorite way to get a little bit of creativity into each day!