Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make Your Own Headpins

by Nancy of Nancyrosetta

Headpins are a necessary supply for jewelry designers of all skill levels. With the rising cost of silver, they have become quite expensive. So why not make your own? It is easy, doesn't require too much equipment and they are a fraction of the cost of buying them. All you need is wire cutters, a small torch such as a butane creme brulee torch, a heat resistant surface, a glass jar or crockpot with a mild acid (warmed vinegar mixed with salt works well), and a pair of tweezers. Always wear eye protection and work in a nicely ventilated area.

Try them, you may never buy headpins again.

I am using 24 gauge sterling silver wire, but this method will work with any smaller gauge wire you want to use.

First, get yourself some wire and cut a bunch of lengths.

Hold the small piece of wire in a pair of tweezers just outside the blue cone and slightly above the flame until it balls up. You can adjust the size of the ball by how long you let the silver melt. Be careful though, the ball can easily fall off creating a splash which is dangerous. So hold the wire very close to the heat resistant surface.

The wire is so thin, that it is unnecessary to quench, they cool off very quickly, I just lay them out until I have a whole bunch.
Now scoop them all up and toss them in the mild acid bath. I use a crock pot so I don't have to keep warming the solution when I am working for a long time. A plastic container submerged in the pot with holes drilled in makes for easier removal.
Keep them in until they are all cleaned. Usually just a few minutes.

Rinse them off and voila! Headpins!
You can now sand them and polish them, or just leave them like this.
I tend to like the more organic look so I just tumble them for a little bit for strength. They look like tiny little silver pearls at the end of the wire.

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