Posts

Posts

Surgical steel posts on the left and sterling silver posts on the right



Post Earrings 

There are many ways to make post or stud earrings of metal clay. The two most often used by metal clay artists are these.

  • Make the earrings, fire and finish them, then solder on a sterling silver post. 
  • Make post earrings with the posts in place before firing. 

Why might you not want to solder? Why would one want to incorporate the posts in metal clay earrings before the firing step? Personally, I don’t like to solder, because I don’t do it enough to be good at it. The main reason not to solder though is that you may have certain stones in your earrings that can withstand the firing process but not a soldering process. Does this make sense? Firing posts right in the earrings may be useful for earrings with certain components that may be damaged in the soldering step.

I don’t know how CZs hold up with soldering, for example. Or if large CZs behave differently than small CZs when heated with a torch. I have torched fired CZs in place, but I heat them slowly, do not heat the silver so much that silver flows, and I allow it to cool slowly. There is more to the cooling part than cooling slowly though, as you may see.

Another thing about soldering is this: metal clay tends to be porous. I thought this was good in that the solder could get down into the metal clay silver. But it turns out to be bad, as the porous silver can suck all the solder away from any joint and weaken the joining of the two components. If you are going to solder, do so after you’ve finished the silver’s surface and tumbled the piece in steel shot. This means, as you will see below, you might be tumbling twice.

In the method that avoids soldering, you may embed silver posts or steel posts into the metal clay. If you use silver posts, you would likely use sterling silver posts because of the strength. Fine silver posts are not strong enough; I’m not sure these are even manufactured. If you use sterling silver posts, you likely know that the firing process will anneal or reduce the hardness of the silver posts. The same thing happens in the soldering process — the key here being the heat. Also, in the firing or soldering of sterling silver, the resulting silver will be not only soft but it will be black. To remove the black you would need to pickle the silver (so much for the slow cooling) or use an abrasive polishing method to remove the firescale or black oxidation, which would make the posts perhaps difficult to insert into the hole in the ear. To strengthen the silver, you would need to tumble these earrings a long time to recover their hardness. This is doable; however, another and perhaps better way of including posts in earrings is to use surgical steel posts.

Surgical steel posts are dark to begin with and they maintain their hardness during the firing process. The only drawback, as far as I can tell, is that they are not nickel free. A small percentage of the population will have an allergic reaction to nickel. I’m almost certain you have been asked what metals are in your ear wires or posts? Because surgical stainless steel contains a small amount of nickel, it may be labeled as hypoallergenic. But it may not be labeled nickel-free.

You can probably come up with lots of interesting ways to incorporate silver or steel posts into earrings. I have put together a short course on doing so. In it I show photographs of the making of two pair of steel-post earrings shown at the bottom of this page. If you want to take the course, it is called Beyond the Basics of Metal Clay - Post Earrings, and it costs $29. The single video contains photographs and narrative, not lots of vignette videos like in all my other courses.

A little more about posts. You can purchase posts with a pad or without a pad. The pad is the vertical part of each post in the screenshots below. And pads come in various diameters, from the width of the post to 6 mm, maybe larger but 6 mm is the largest I’ve come across. The posts also come in various lengths. 

Posts posts from Rio


Posts Silver Select Size

Screen snapshots from RioGrande.com


Like I said, you have likely already figured out how to incorporate posts into earrings pre-fire. If not, here are some photos to get your imagination going. I always say the jewelry items I create in order to make a course lack a little in esthetics. But I figure that is impetus for you to make something way more beautiful, an easy thing to do. So have fun and enjoy.


steel posts 22



steel posts 34
16-1133 fronts on dryer



For more online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2017