How to make cabochon earrings
One comment: pay attention to the "change of hands".....sometimes you hold the glass in your right hand, sometimes in your left...it definitely helps to do that!
BEFORE YOU START: you might want to read my little blurb on HOLDING TOOLS
1. Heat the tip of a rod of glass
This color will be the BACKING for your earring. The amount of glass you melt determines the diameter of the finished earring.
2. Push the rod onto a flat surface, like creating a maria
3. Gently heat the front of the maria
Be careful not the lose the flat shape. If you want to use powder, enamel, frit or silver, the entire surface has to be equally hot - pay attention to the color of the glass, the CENTER of the maria tends to stay colder, which will show up as a darker color.
4. Decorate flat side of maria
In this example I push the maria into a jar of silver-brown powder - but you can also use frit, murrini or whatever you can think of.
5. Gently melt in decoration
If you only have a thin layer of powder or frit, heat is usually enough, but if you apply a murrini or something larger, use a curved tool to gently push the murrini down.
6. If you have any kind of silvered glass/powder/frit, reduce now
7. Keep maria warm, but out of the flame, and heat blob of clear at the same time
This step of course only applies if you have silvered glass, if not, you can keep your decorated maria warm higher in the flame
8. Push clear blob evenly onto maria
9. Melt off clear rod
If possible, you want to melt the clear rod off in a way that it has a "pointed tip" - if that doesn't happen, reheat the clear and roll it on a marver to point the tip...
10. Shape the face of the earring
You can do that just by using heat, but it's much easier and faster to use a curved surface. I believe so much in this system of making earrings that I am going to offer a dedicated "earring shaper" tool (you can see the proto-type in this tutorial) - which will be availbable once my "testers" report back to me...in the meantime, you could use the top of a lentil press, or a regular shaper.
The shape of the earring face depends on the depth of your tool, you can see in my collection of "sample earrings" that they can be either very flat (or even completely flat...) - or very domed....it all depends on what you like...
11. Punty up to front with pointed clear rod
There are all kinds of theories about "puntying up", I am sure you have heard "cold seal" and "hot seal"...as long as you have a clear front on your earring, it doesn't matter all that much. I would recommend the keep the earring dome cooler and the tip of the clear punty hotter when they touch each other.
12. Melt off original rod
Focus the flame on the rod you started out with. You want to heat it somewhere close to the maria, but it's not necessary to get all the way to where the rod "meets" the flat back
13. Pluck off excess glass
Switch the punty into the other hand, heat the excess glass and "pluck" it off with tweezers. This usually takes 2-3 turns of heating and plucking, it doesn't have to happen in one step.
14. Heat and flatten back
Again, the flattening doesn't happen in one quick step, it is safer to heat the back, flatten it a little, heat again, flatten, until you're happy.
this looks good:
15. Anchor the pin
a) gently heat the back of the earring, it should be hot, but no so hot that you'll lose the shape
b) at the same time, bring the tip of the pin to a bright glow
You should hold the glass and the pin close together at this step, because the glow at the end of the pin fades very quickly, so you want to be a short disctance from the back of the earring.
c) push the pin firmly into the center of the back
16. Melt off clear punty
16. Pluck off remaining clear with tweezers
You don't have to remove all the clear unless the front of your earring is a different glass than clear.
17. Flamepolish the front of the earring
18. Hold pin with tweezers, release handle and put into kiln
(if you don't have a kiln you can still make earrings, there is so little glass that you should be fine cooling it off in a fiber blanket, vermiculite or Japanese cooling bubbles)
One thing you might wonder is whether the pin will be anchored securely in the glass when using this method of just pushing the glowing pin into the glass. Yes, it will! If you are worried, try to move the pin after you take the earring out of the kiln - if it's not anchored, it will come out. If it's anchored properly, you can bend it and even straighten it out if necessary. I have made about 50 earrings so far, and only ONE pin came out.
Want to see more tutorials about different styles earrings, using the same surgical steel pins? Check out a number of fantastic tutorials at VETROMAGIC in Austria.