Monday, January 14, 2013

Art Jewelry Challenge: Balled Headpins

by Staci L. Smith

The first Art Jewelry Challenge of the year will be on making your own balled head pins.  (see last weeks post for details on our new challenges).  However, it’s not just about making the headpins; we want to see how you use them, and how creative you can be with them.  If you are unable to make your own pins, then we encourage you to still participate, but please, you must handmade head pins from another artist.  Here are some links to sellers offering handmade ball head pins.

Like these from Miss Fickle Media

Or if you are in the UK you can get these nice silver ones from Cinnamon Jewellery

Anyhow, to play along, your headpins MUST be handmade.  That's it.  The only rule to this challenge.  This gives you the freedom to be as creative as you can.

Head Pin Tutorial:

I think everyone who has made any sort of jewelry, has at one time or another, used headpins.  I personally always loved the ball head pins best.  When I learned how to make them myself, my design possibilities tripled!  Today I am going to show you how you can easily make them, with a butane torch, in your home.

Butane torch (filled with butane)
A solder station- some place you can use your torch, non-flammable surface, heat resistant, a solder brick, pizza stone, ect…….
Wire (copper or silver)
Flush cutters
Quench dish filled with water
Pickle and pickle pot
Steel wool
Liver of sulfur

1.  Cut pieces of wire in varying lengths, so that you have a variety of length of head pin.  I like to go through my scrap wire and use pieces from there first.  I typically use 24-18 gauge wire to make headpins.  I also tend to make them long, and if I don’t use it all, I use the snipped ends for other headpins later on.
PLEASE NOTE: Silver filled wire will not ball due to the fact it is two metals in one and they heat at different rates.

2. Once you have all your pieces, lay them out some you can pick them up with your tweezers. 

3. Ignite your torch, and hold the torch in one hand, and tweezers in your other hand.

4. Pick up a head pin by the end with your tweezers, and hold it in the flame of your torch until it balls up.  Remember the hottest part of your flame is just past the blue cone in the center of your flame (the inner cone.)

5. Heat your pin until the end balls, drop it in the quench dish and do the rest.  You can either heat from the side; perpendicular- or you can heat from below the wire; vertically.  Either way works…do what you are most comfortable with.  Heating from the bottom will give you the most evenly rounded ball head pin, sometimes heating from the side makes the ball off to one side a little bit.

6. Sometimes I pickle them at this time.  Other times I just rough them up with steel wool to remove some of the oxidation.  It depends on the look I am going for.

7. If you pickle them, rinse them, and then you can use liver of sulfur to antique them.  Buff them with steel wool for your desired finish.

I made a short video so you can see the actual process of making head pins. Please note, this is to teach you to make headpins. This does not cover torch safety and use.  If you have never used a butane torch before, please make sure you understand the safety precautions and how to use it before trying this tutorial.

We encourage you to not only try this, but to then take it a step further and use your head pins in creative ways.
One way that I have used head pins in the past, is to attach center drilled sea glass to my rings.

By going through the hole with the head pin (I use a long pin for these) and wrapping it tightly around the shank, you create a rivet of sorts.  You can use this to also attach beads to wire loops or donut beads. 

Next Monday's post will have more information for the challenge, and a NAME for it as well!  Please feel free to ask questions and we will be sure to answer them for you, either in the comments or another post, or both.

We are excited to begin this creative journey with you all!


Mystic Indigo said...

What a great tutorial!!! Awesome start to this year, and I will see if I can think of something up to use headpins in a different way this week...

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

Oh. Awesome!!! Flame always intimidates me, even though I have used it. So I very much appreciate seeing your video here Staci - makes me feel more comfortable. Should be a fun challenge :)

TesoriTrovati said...

I am with Miss Marsha. I love the flame. Am drawn to it. But I have a hard and fast rule that I will not use fire, chemicals or overly dangerous tools in my studio late at night. But I have a client who is sending me sea glass for a special set of jewelry and this might be something I will have to investigate. I will look forward to seeing what everyone does! Enjoy the day. Erin

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I am really excited to see what creations come from this!~

Artisan Beads Plus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh, Staci. This is such a good one to start with...playing with fire! I've soldered a bit, but never tried to make head pins, so this is just the push I need. And the rings are awesome with the faux rivet on the beach glass.

Anonymous said...

shoot I wish I had the equipment to join in! these are so cool

In the Light of the Moon said...

Awesome Tutorial!!

Heidi Post said...

What perfect timing since I just got my torch for Christmas!

Fran Selinger said...

I am curious: What does the pickling process do? Is it necessary? Thank you!

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