The truth about stud earrings

This is the thing about silversmithing: you think you've learnt everything you'd need to know to make a collection, thanks to the course you've just completed. And then you realise you really don't know anything, never mind everything (and you probably never will)! The same - actually - can be said for life in general I realise, as I get older and wiser with every passing day. 

So, I'd decided early on, that I wanted some stud earrings to be part of my collection. You know, something at a lower price point. An entry level piece, or an extra to go with a necklace or a bracelet.

Simple I thought. Oh hahahaaaa, how I now laugh at my sweet naivete!

The thing about earring studs is.. well, actually there are several things: 

  • They are small, ergo they are fiddly = awkward beyond belief to solder, file, sand, polish. I've lost count of the number of times small pieces of silver have ricocheted off my walls, when I've lost my tenuous grip on the edge of a small triangle. (This also means me getting on my hands and knees with my phone torch, searching for lost pieces of silver.. usually at least once a day. Currently I have one AWOL earring and no idea where it is or whether it will eventually turn up or not. Grrr!) 
  • If you're going to do them properly, you have to also handmake the earring posts. The posts (the straight piece of wire that goes through your ear) needs that little indentation at the end of the post where the butterfly back will sit. This is really quite tricky to do and involves careful use of a scribe, a saw, a file, emery paper and polishing mops. I mean, who would have thought such a tiny thing needed so many tools in order to be brought into being?? More news to me. 
  • You also need to make butterfly backs. Well you do if you're going to do it (and take this whole handmade jeweller thing) properly. This involves, in my case, searching far and wide for some kind of step-by-step instructions, because they are more complex than you might imagine: you need to use maths and angles; they need to be thin (0.3mm) and springy enough to bend around into curls without breaking; you've got to get them the right shape, equal on all sides with a hole exactly in the middle. Luckily Terry the lovely chap (and he is a chap - he has a cap!) at The Jeweller's Hub came to my rescue. 

Which brings me to my final revelation in this whole process....

  • Apparently the butterfly of the earring back (i.e. the curled around loop bit), rather than the hole, is the bit that grips onto the little notch of the earring post (yes that notch I've painstakingly created with a thousand tiny tools - see above). It's the precisely placed curl of the loop, which actually holds the earring fast to the notch in the post.

Photo of earring illustrating the positioning of the butterfly back in the notch of the earring post: one further away and the other closer up at a slightly different angle, to illustrate.

Who knew?! I certainly didn't! I always thought the hole was the bit that sat into the notch. And you know, once an earring is in, you don't get to see the back of it. 

So we all learnt something extra today. Well I did. Maybe you already knew? 

Ps. September 30th update: I've now finished the WIndblown Collection and you can see the stud earrings and their beautifully handcrafted silver butterfly backs here.

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  • Friday 19 July, 6pm-9pm at Ware Priory Artisan Craft Fair with Folk & Bespoke (free entry) as part of a curated showcase of 30 artists, crafters and makers
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