I'm fortunate enough to live within 2 miles of SF's Ocean Beach so morning runs to the beach (and racing the L-train back home afterward) are part of my daily relaxing routine when I'm not away at college. However, a friend of mine in Colorado doesn't have that option. I do send her pictures, but this time I wanted to send her something extra special: some sea glass from this side of the U.S. Because she has multiple piercings (plus she enjoys my wirework tutorials), I decided to whip up a batch of custom sea glass earrings for her.
Side note: If you like this tutorial, votes in the Jewelry and Glass Contests would be appreciated!
Step 1: Materials
- sea glass (preferably, you should use triangular shaped shards, or at least very angular ones so that the wire can catch onto corners)
- thin wire (I used 24 gauge wire for wrapping; higher gauge provides less support, but lower gauge is too bulky so I found that 24/26 gauge work nicely)
- pliers (for bending wire and cutting it off)
- earring hooks (The friend has sensitive ears so I had to go with sterling silver and gold earring hooks, but you can also make your own -- see this tutorial's step 7)
- oil (to make your sea glass shinier..)
Step 2: Gathering and Polishing Sea Glass
Gather sea glass at a beach, and you'll notice that once the sea glass is dried, they'll look cloudy with white residue covering them. You can choose to leave them with that natural cloudiness, but I chose to polish them with a bit of oil (vegetable/olive oil works fine, but it smells bad -- I recommend some moisturizing lotion or coconut oil) to make them shinier (see second image above).
Step 3: Wrapping: Part 1
Taking pictures of the process was a bit tricky since both sides of the sea glass look the same, but bear with me! I differentiated the two sides in the pictures by adding (side 1) or (side 2) in the notes in the images. The weaving process essentially boils down to wrapping the wire around the top right corner, bottom corner (after flipping sides), and top left corner (after flipping sides again), alternating each time as you flip the sea glass over again and again. I ended after I got two layers of the weave (as in you can see two clear lines of wire in each corner)
Step 4: Wrapping: Part 2
More pictures depicting the process: again, essentially you're wrapping the wire around the top right corner, bottom corner (after flipping sides), and top left corner (after flipping sides again).
End when you can see two clear lines of wire in every corner, both sides of the sea glass shard by twisting together the two ends of the wire at the top of the shard.
Step 5: Loop at the Top
To finish off, simply make a loop at the top by wrapping the wire around a cylindrical object (paintbrush handle, in my case). Then just wrap the excess wire around the base, trim the edges, and use pliers to press cut edges flat. You can now adjust the weaving so that the wraps around the corners are parallel.
Make another one before adding earring hooks (again, see this tutorial's step 7 or buy your own).
Step 6: Cobalt Blue Sea Glass
I also had a set of cobalt blue sea glass (both around the same size -- so rare!) so I used some golden wire (Go Bears) to wrap them before adding gold earring hooks.
And now they're ready to be gifted to your loved ones/friends/etc!
Ideas/More things to try:
- Interesting color combinations: red wire around green sea glass would be nice around Christmastime
- Try to create loops at the top and bottom of the sea glass so you can link them up in series to create longer chains
- If you don't have colored sea glass, try staining your own: I used glue and watercolors (you can also use food coloring) to paint over white sea glass and give them a tint.
- What to do with extra sea glass: build a lamp!
As always, feel free to leave questions and comments below, and I hope you enjoy!