Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How To Make Sterling Silver Head Pins

Okay I promised to do a picture tutorial of how to make headpins at home. Please be patient as I am recovering from pneumonia.

Obviously the first thing you will need are your supplies and someplace safe to light your torch. I don't recommend your living room. I know you may not like those curtains but trust me there is a better way.

You need your sterling silver wire 18 to 24 guage round either dead soft or half hard.(personal preference and depending on what you are using them for) Something to hold them with as you apply your torch. I am using what is called a third hand. Basically anything that will hold your wire and not catch on fire or melt while near the torch. Your fingers do NOT fall under this category and will most definitely burn. Even if you miss them with the torch the wire itself get hot all the way to to top so be careful. it to cool completely or use tweezers, pliers whatever to remove them from your holder.(Yes I am speaking from experience, take my word for it). You also need a torch. Mine is from Home Depot and was 14 dollars. Please read the directions FIRST. Move anything flammable from around your space you will be working in. (you would be surprised at how far the flame actually goes). Now you will need to cut your wire to the appropriate length ( I am still working on how long to cut for the amount I want to have left but it is just a matter of trial and error to figure out the right length.) Hook up your first piece of wire and light your torch. Apply the flame to the bottom of the head pin and watch for it turn red. This does not take long! As soon as it turns red it balls up and you can remove the torch and turn it off. Either wait for the pin to cool or use a tweezer or plier to remove it from you third hand.( I cannot emphasis this part enough, third degree burns do ugly things to fingerprints!). Continue with this process until you have made the desired amount of heads pins. This is what they should look like at this point. Not very attractive and kind of dirty looking.. At this point they need to go into the pickle pot so that the fire scale will be removed and they will start to look like usable pieces. Again please read all the directions for your pickle if you have never tried this before. After pickling the head pins come out with a whitish coating on them. This is normal, please don't panic, you have not done anything wrong. The next step is to toss them in your tumbler and give them a spin for about two hours. This not only makes them nice and shiny but also makes them stronger. Then you just straighten any that you need to straighten and you have now created your very own headpins to work with. I hope this has been a helpful piece for those of you just starting out. Please follow all safety and handling instructions when you attempt to do this.
Many thanks go to the fine etsians who have been kind enough to share their knowledge in the forums and in tutorials of their own. Not limited to but including

GlitterCritter, LooseWireStudio Stereotte, and WireYourWorld to name a few.

13 comments:

Lori Anderson Designs said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial!!!!

designedbylucinda said...

Excellent tutorial!

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and I hope you feel better!!

Creative Crafter UK said...

Very interesting tutorial - I always wondered if you could make your own - Thanks. Love your doggies too! I have one of my own - they make great, loyal companions!

Mimi said...

Loved your tutorial!!!!

thanks.

brandianndesigns said...

thanks so much for the tutorial!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Great tutorial!!!

Gaetan Karr said...

Thanks for the great tutorial-I have just begun to make my own earwires and headpins.
Thanks again - gaetan
gbkarr.etsy.com

Jane said...

Can you please help me? I am trying to draw a second bead on a headpin which is being used horizontally to carry beads across a span inside a brass upside-down-U-shaped pendant. Do you know what I mean? Well, anyway, I can't seem to get that second bead to happen -- is it because the pendant itself is acting as a massive heatsink? Thanks for your help. I can't find the answer to this anywhere!

Silver River Jewelry said...

Jane I am guessing it is because it sucking up all of the heat. You could try blocking the heat but being unable to actually see what you are doing its hard to say for sure. Another good resource would be Ganoskin.com, its a major metal working sight and I am sure someone there in the forums could probably help you also.

Sterling silver jewelry said...

I just wanted to comment your blog and say that I really enjoyed reading your blog post here.
It was very informative!!!!

JJ said...

Hello, J here from Western Australia. I'm a beginner at using a flame torch and do take to heart your safety advice. I did try to adjust my jump ring whilst STILL holding my torch; a big scream of pain and my finger smelt and curled. I headed straight for my toothpaste, yes toothpaste and desecrated one leaf on my aloe vera plant, bandaged for three days and voila, NO burn. Blue flame has a whole new meaning for me. Thanks so much for your tutorial. Will the steel shot in my tumbler not bend the headpins? Great blog. J.

Megan McClung said...

J, yes the headpins can get bent in the tumbler but they are very easy to straighter and tumbling really helps with the headpins not being too soft and also making them nice and shiny. A daunting task if you are trying to do them by one by one by hand!

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Sterling Silver Jewelry