It all starts with an idea, a vague inspiration, until I can’t contain it anymore and I have to sketch it out. There are an infinite number of possibilities. This is exciting, and sometimes daunting at the same time. At its core, a hoop earring is nothing more than a circle made of metal. But that’s really just the beginning… the jumping off point for inspiration.
As a designer, I’ve never been plagued with creative drought. Quite the opposite. I have TOO MANY ideas, if that’s even possible. That’s not to say I don’t stumble when it comes to the technical part of the job. Sometimes my ideas are crystal clear, but the path to the finish line is bumpy. Sometimes my ideas exceed my skill level, and I have to take it slow while learning a new process.
The beauty of the hoop earring is that it can be simple or complex. Starting with a perfect circle and building from there. Will it have embellishments or dangles? Will it be large or small? Bold or dainty? What I love most about the process is that I don’t always know where it’s going to lead, and that’s part of the fun. It starts when an idea in my head comes to life on paper. By the time I pull out my bundles of wire, my design ideas have already multiplied exponentially.
The process looks a little something like this:
• I work backwards initially, first deciding how big I want the finished hoop to be, and then cutting the right length of wire.
• Once cut, the ends of the wire are filed flat, so that when the 2 ends are brought together, they form a tight seam for soldering. At this point I’m not concerned with the shape, just that I get a good solid seam.
• The hoop is soldered closed and pickled clean.
• Next, I place the misshapen circle onto a steel mandrel and hammer it perfectly round, or, sometimes I use my pliers to create an oval or freeform shape.
• When I’m satisfied with the shape I clean up the solder seams to smooth them out. Then I’ll add a bit of texture with a hammer or flatten it to create a wider hoop. And if I’m really feeling the creative flow, I might join together multiple hoops, add beads, dangles or fringe to create some movement. I let my creative inspiration take me where I need to go.
When I say the possibilities are endless, I mean they are really endless. Often, I’ll start in one direction, and end up someplace else. One design inspires 10-more designs. Just as I finish 10-pairs of hoops, I dream up 10-new ideas when I close my eyes.
While my designs are fun, light and whimsical, the history of the hoop earring is weighty, ethnic and royal and goes back many years. Sandra E. Garcia wrote a thought-provoking article in the New York Times Why I Can’t Quit You Hoops, about why she stopped wearing hoops for 12-years, and later reunited with them like an old friend.
So, whether you just want to feel a little sexy and flirty, regal and royal, or connected to your ethnic roots, there is a hoop earring out there to suit your mood. Large or small. Casual or conservative, I promise you there’s a pair of hoop earrings that are perfect for you!
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