Hoop Earrings & How I Organize My Projects

I love hoop earrings! I’ve made so many of them in the last few years in so many different styles that I’ve had a hard time categorizing them in my mind & in my classes.

Years ago, when I started teaching jewelry-making, I felt the need to keep track of all the jewelry projects I was able to teach so I could plan classes or make a sales pitch to a school that might want to hire me. At first, I started making a list on a yellow pad. After a while, the list got so long and confusing that I decided I needed a more comprehensive system that allowed me to organize all my instruction handouts, materials lists, and any notes or reference materials related to the project. I created a notebook  that I called “All Info” that had a separate page for each project, with space behind the main page for all the back-up materials.

I also had physical samples of each project in separate, quart-size ziplock bags that somehow had to be linked to the paperwork.  I created a filing system made of cardboard boxes that were the perfect size to fit the sample bags, and I gave each project sample a number as I designed it. (I started with#1 and am now up to project #312!) I then used the same numbers to label the “All Info” sheets. Years later, a student (thanks, Nancy Varat!) came up with the brilliant idea of listing the project number under the title of each instruction handout as well.

As a further way of finding related projects, I created categories of project types: Bead Weaving, Buttons, Chain, Chain Maille, Cord, Craft Wire, Crochet & Knitting, Macrame, Memory Wire, Metalwork, Nylon-Covered Wire (a.k.a Beading Wire or Cable), & Stretch Magic. Every project I teach fits into one of these categories and has it’s own number, sample bag and All Info page. Each project number represents a specific technique or jewelry style that I can teach in one class.

This is where the dilemma regarding Hoop Earrings came in. There are so many different ways to make them: Full hoops and half hoops. Beads wrapped around the hoops or beads strung on the hoops. Wire-wrapped briolettes or head-pin dangles hanging in the center of the hoop. Single hoops or double. etc. etc.

This may seem like a silly thing to be preoccupied with, but I really like everything to fit into neat categories. It makes it easier to plan a semester of classes and it helps me wrap my mind around how to teach each technique. It would be impossible to cover all types of hoop earrings in one class. So how do I decide what to teach in a single hoop earring class? How do I divide all the hoop earring possibilities into separate lessons?

I’ve had these questions in the back of my mind for a few years now, always keeping them on the back burner because I couldn’t decide. Last night, I was looking through all my sample bags and  I suddenly got inspired to finally focus to figure out “the hoop earring problem”. I reviewed all the photos I have of all the hoop earrings I’ve made (a lot) and all the handouts I’ve used to teach them (only 2). There were so many ways to organize them. Should I group them by how (and if) there would be beads attached? By whether they have single or double hoops? If they were half hoops, should I have a separate project for half-hoops attached to the earring wires by chain and another category for half-hoops connected by wire components? What about having center briolettes or not? My mind was swimming with hoop earring images. It wasn’t until I decided to take a long walk that it became clear to me how to categorize them.

Get ready for my exciting conclusion!

Below are the 4 categories of hoop earrings I finally came up with. NOTE: Each category includes all types of bead decorations, whether wrapped on the wire, dangling from the wire, strung directly on the wire, or hanging inside the center of the hoop. Each type can also include single or double hoop styless.

1. Round, full, hand-made hoops attached to earring wires

Round, full, hand-made hoops (fully bead-wrapped, w/center headpin dangle)

2. Half-round, hand-made hoops attached with chain OR wire components to earring wires

Half-round, hand-made hoops attached with chain (fully bead-wrapped, no center dangle)

3. Pre-made hoops with built-in earring wires

Pre-Made Hoops with Built-In Ear Wires (with beads & headpin dangles strung on hoops)

4. Teardrop-shaped, hand-made hoops

Teardrop-Shaped, Hand-Made Hoops (with beads strung on hoops, no center dangle)


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