Earrings with Seed Beads, Devcon Jeweler's 2-ton Epoxy and Sterling Silver Components

Create a pair of micro-mosaic seed bead earrings using my micro-mosaic technique. Once you are familiar with the process, use your own color palette and pattern to personalize them.

When viewed from the round outside edge, a seed bead is oval in shape which makes the beads fit together differently depending on how you place each bead. In this technique, the holes of the seed beads will not be seen so be sure your beads "stand up." In the finished pair of earrings, the oval bead shape was used to create an orderly circle pattern on a field of randomly placed background beads.
Squeeze equal amounts of each part of the 2-part epoxy onto a paper plate. Use a toothpick to mix the parts thoroughly then spread a small drop of epoxy over one half of one silver component.

Note: The epoxy has a 30-minute cure time so be aware that the area you cover must be beaded in that amount of time. If you are unsure how much area you will be able to cover in 30 minutes, try coating only one quarter of the surface for your first time.
With tweezers, pick up a single ceylon silver bead, placing it on its side in the epoxy, propping it against the edge of the component. Note that you should not see the hole of the bead when placed correctly in the epoxy.

Place more of the same color all around the edge of the component, turning them this way and that so the hole direction for each bead is different (not in a line).
Once you have outlined the shape (epoxy-covered area only) begin adding in a few black beads into the next row of beads, remembering to change direction of all the beads--you want a random effect.
Add another row of ceylon silver beads, and try to straighten out the edge so the next row will be a smooth curve, but not exactly round. Add in black beads, paying attention to the spacing and the direction of the hole.
Paying attention now to the hole direction of the black beads, line them up in a semicircle just inside the ceylon silver, keeping the black beads as close together as possible. You are not trying for a perfect arc, but rather something that is slightly off, with no gaps between the beads. This will create the visual effect of a solid line of black once the micro-mosaic is grouted.
Just inside the black arc, add an arc of red beads, aligning the holes in the same direction as the black beads.
Fill in the remaining bit of space between the red beads and the center hole of the component with ceylon silver beads, again turning them this way and that for a random effect.
Lightly dab a clean, dry finger over the top of the mosaic to be sure the beads are all tamped down into the frame and well-seated in the epoxy. You should not have any epoxy on the top surface of your beads, so they shouldn't stick. Be gentle--you don't want to knock any beads down or dislodge them.
For the second half, mix a new batch of epoxy on the paper plate then spread it over the remaining half of the component, as in Step 1.
Continue building your micro-mosaic, this time working from the inside out to have better control over the shape of your black and red circles.
Once you've filled the entire frame with beads, check to make sure there are no large gaps between beads. Use your finger to gently tamp the beads into the epoxy as in Step 8. Set your first component aside and repeat Steps 1 to 11 on the second component. Allow both components to cure for a couple of hours to be sure you don't dislodge any beads during the grouting phase.
Once the epoxy has cured on both components, squeeze some grout onto a paper plate then pick up a small amount of the grout with a gloved finger. Spread the grout onto the surface of the beads, rubbing firmly in all directions to thoroughly coat the beaded surface, pushing the grout down into the gaps between the beads.
Use a clean gloved finger to begin wiping off the excess grout. Don't worry about the hole in the middle of the component at this time; it will be easy to clean once you have wiped down the mosaic.
Using a small dry sponge (I usually cut up a larger sponge into manageable pieces), wipe the surface of the micro-mosaic to expose the beads further. Do this slowly, looking carefully at your micro-mosaic with each swipe; you want to expose the beads, but don't remove too much grout. The grout visually enhances your micro-mosaic, while also providing an added layer of durability.
Once you've cleaned the grout off the surface of the micro-mosaic and all metal parts, ream the center hole of the component with a toothpick to clean the grout from the hole.
Repeat the grouting procedure on the second component.
To make the earwires, cut two pieces of sterling silver wire 2-1/2 inches long with flush-cutters. Round off the ends of each wire with a few twists of the wire rounder.
Using the tips of the round-nose pliers, make a loop in one end of each wire, not quite closing the loop. Reposition the pliers so that one tip is inside your loop, and one outside on the opposite side from the cut end and bend the straight end of the wire out at a 90° angle to make a shepherd's hook. This will act as a safety catch and lock the component onto the earwire.
Place pliers 1/8 inch away from the hook and bend wire at a right angle so that if the hook was laid flat on a table, the straight end would extend straight up in the air.
Thread the earwire through the hole of one component, from the back to the front, turning the corner so the component rests at the same angle as the straight end of the wire, and it sits between the hook and the 90° bend you created in Step 19.
You should have a tail of wire that measures approximately 2-1/8 inches. Grasp the middle of the tail with the widest part of the barrels of the round-nose pliers. Bend the earwire toward the back of the earring until it extends slightly below the shepherd's hook, making sure to make a gracefully rounded curve. Bend the very end of the earwire out slightly, away from the component to complete the hook. Repeat Steps 18-21 for the second earwire.

The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.

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