The Life Cycle of an Earring

For those of you interested in process (I always am!) I thought I would put together this post on the stages of development of my earrings. It's not always exactly like this (i.e. sometimes I use moulds I have bought off another maker) but this will give you an idea of the possibilities and what I am aiming for in trying to be hands-on at every stage!

Step One - Concept

So at this first stage I just start to dream up the styles, colours and shapes that I want to base my next collections around. This year I am aiming to release collections in line with the four seasons (ie summer, autumn, winter and spring) in the hopes that this keeps releases manageable and doesn't result in burnout (I also work full-time as a school counsellor!).

So, for my winter collections (to be released late April) I decided to work on two collections that I would create the moulds for myself. The first is my goldfish collection (to be renamed at a later date) and my sunbird collection. For both these collections I sketched the initial images and chose other bits to include with the resin pieces I would create (i.e. beaded tassels, silk tassels, brass components). See my sketches below. 

 

Stage Two - Making Blanks

So, after I have my concept and the initial sketches, I then have to create my blanks. Blanks are used to create the silicone mould. Ideally, I would love to be able to cut my blanks from acrylic using a laser cutter but for now I am carving them from Sculpey Premo which is a brand of polymer clay. Fingers crossed I'll be able to buy my own laser cutter one day soon and start cutting and engraving acrylic! Below are images of the blanks I carved and the completed silicone mould next to them. 

 

 

Step Three - Mould Making

Now the blanks are carved it is time to cast them in silicone. I have used Barnes Product 'Pinkysil' fast set silicone which you can buy here. Note it sets very fast and as someone who is used to working with resin which is a bit slower, I over-mixed the first few batches. So don't stir for too long! Below are freshly-set moulds before I removed them from the mould frames. You can buy these mould guards from Blackbird and Violet in Australia by clicking here. Don't forget to trim your mould afterwards. 

Stage Four - Resin Pouring

So now comes the really fun part. I pour resin into my newly created moulds. In the concept stage I selected colours that I thought I might use but this is always adjustable. I like to play and see what comes out. The best thing about pouring resin is the beautiful surprises and effects you get when pigments and materials merge. So for these moulds I tried a number of different pigments, glitters and even some seed beads. I always leave my resin set for at least 12 hours to make sure it's strong. 

 Step Five - Resin Coating

You don't have to do this step but I think it gives a much improved finish and overall look. I like to coat my pieces with Barnes Expoxyglass  Which takes it from this:

 

To This:

 

Step Six - Finishing 

After the resin coating, I drill holes in the earrings and then attach any tassels, tops (in this case I have used brass tops for the sunbirds and resin tops for the goldfish) or other embellishments. 

Keep posted for the release of these in the upcoming weeks!