We’re All Ears Design Challenge: Ferns

Fern earring drops

Some ferny components

The inspiration for April’s We’re All Ears earring design challenge was images of fiddlehead ferns. There are many design elements to choose from in the images, from the spiral shapes of the coiled fiddleheads to the feathery unfurled green leaves.

I’ve had fiddlehead ferns in salads and stir fry when I lived in Alaska. They’re quite tasty. I’ve looked for them in the produce section of my local Whole Foods here in the Mid Atlantic and have not seen them. Maybe I need to visit an actual farmer’s market for something so exotic?

For my earrings, I made components in polymer clay.  The spiral shapes were made by pressing a piece of coiled wire into the raw clay. I used a rubber stamp to impress a fern leaf patterned background on one pair.  I wasn’t initially sure how I was going to color or finish them, so they started out off-white. I gave one pair a faux ceramic finish as a test, and liked it so much I did all three sets in the same finish.

Although I typically struggle to make “simple” earrings that are nothing more than a drop on a wire, I felt okay doing that with these.  The simple design seems to work with the nature theme.

Diamond shape fern earrings

The diamond shaped drops on this pair of earrings have a fern leaf texture background with stylized fiddlehead spirals overlay. They have a spring green faux ceramic finish and hang on dark oxidized copper wires.

I baked copper jump rings into two pair of components.  I wanted to hang them directly from the ear wires and this allowed me to get the right orientation of the jump ring.

Fern teardrop shape earrings

The polymer clay teardrop-shaped dangles on these earrings have stylized fiddlehead shapes with a faux ceramic finish in bright spring green. They hang on dark oxidized copper wires.

For the disc-shaped components, I drilled a hole top center because I thought I might want to add a beaded link to the ear wire. In the end, I kept the design simple and only used jump rings.

Round fern earrings

These earrings have round polymer clay components with stylized fiddlehead fern impressions. The faux ceramic finish is a mix of alcohol inks and liquid polymer clay. They hang on bright copper wires.

In addition to always taking design challenges very literally, I like trying to imitate shapes from nature in my jewelry. I’m still teaching myself to sculpt, and gaining confidence to experiment more. For this challenge. I tried to make some drops that looked like actual fern fiddleheads. I didn’t quite succeed, but I have some ideas for what I might do differently. I used chalk pastels to color these components and they ended up too dark. Or maybe these are stir fried fiddleheads?

Fiddlehead fern earrings

These are my attempt at mimicking the appearance of fiddlehead ferns. The overall shape isn’t bad for a first try, but I ended up making them too dark when I colored with chalk. They’re wire-wrapped on dark oxidized copper wire.

I’d like to revisit this theme, and give the sculpting part another go. I have an idea for a different tool to use to get the impression of leafy bits, and I think I’ll try making them with a tinted translucent clay next time.  As always, I had fun thanks to wonderful inspiration from our hostess, Erin Prais-Hintz.  Be sure to visit the Earrings Every Day blog to see how Erin interpreted this theme. And then follow the links at the bottom of her post to see inspired earring designs by other artists.

My fern earrings will be making their way into my shop on Etsy. Except the stir-fried experiment. Those I may try to salvage with a Swellegant metal coating, probably in copper.

8 thoughts on “We’re All Ears Design Challenge: Ferns

  1. Beth Petricoin

    They’re all really lovely, my favorites are the round ones, but the first two are fun too! You’ve got the faux ceramic glaze down perfect! I think the sculpted ones are great, I see what you mean about the darkness, but they could also read as ammonite….IMO, you can never go wrong with spiral anything! 😉 Another well done challenge!

  2. Divya

    I love the green color of the glaze that you used for the first three pieces – its refreshing, fun and so joyous. I think the faux ceramic idea worked out splendidly well

  3. Kathy Lindemer

    Your components look great. I hope I will have time this summer to make some fern components. After seeing how you did it, I think I might give it a try. Using coiled wire is great idea. You did a great job! Thanks for sharing how you made them.

  4. Sarajo Wentling

    i’m so impressed with the components you made. That set with the fern leaves impressed into the background are particularly swoon-worthy!

  5. Erin Prais-Hintz

    What amazing components! I love them! I really did think these were ceramic. I would love to know the trick to get the glaze to look like that, if you are ever inspired to share. 😉 Thank you so much for joining in the fun! Please check back on May, 6th for our next We’re All Ears challenge! Enjoy the day! Erin

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