Step 2: Choose some beads. I originally got my beads from the corner craft store: JoAnns or Ben Franklin, for example. That was back where there were only 6 different beads available to buy. But then I started checking out thrift stores (grandmothers and great aunts have the best jewelry for dismantling) and telling everyone I loved to bring me beads when they went on vacation. My collection grew and grew and grew (see above). Once people knew I made earrings, they saved broken bracelets to give me, or just handed over complete necklaces they no longer wanted.
For a long time, a lot of my earrings looked alike. Three beads, two on either side of one main bead. My friend Nena was really good at thinking outside that pattern, though, and helped me to mix it up a little, so now I spend more time trying out different combinations. Oh, also, you'll need a small pliers with a wire cutter. I bought mine in the hardware department, because the ones in the craft department with the pretty pink handles tend to be crap and more expensive too. Why anyone would pay more for pink crap is beyond me.
Step 3: Make up your mind and cut your wire. I figure for most of my earrings, the headpin or eyepin (what the beads are strung on) doesn't touch skin, so I tend to use basemetal findings for this. They're cheap. As you can clearly see, I use the technical "half a fingertip" measurement for cutting my wire: you'll have to figure out what works for you.
My supplies largely come from this enormous stockpile that 15 years of jewelry making has grown in my basement, but occassionally I see beads at Michael's or JoAnn's that call my name. I order my earwires through South Pacific Wholesale Company, a beading company I discovered way back when and just really enjoy shopping with. Their prices are MUCH better than any craft store, and I just like them a lot. I often order beads or other gee-gaws there, too, because I am easily swayed into unnecessary purchases. Back off.
So there you have it. All the pierced ears in your life can be bejeweled, by you, in time for stocking stuffing! How exciting! If you are going to sell these commercially, you'll need to get a tax license and all sorts of other things that I don't wanna talk about because it's boring. Have fun!