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Difficulty making headpins


#1

I’m having difficulty doing this; I can’t get an even surface on my
pins. They have a wrinkled look. I’ve tried everything I can think
of, so hope someone here can give advice.

Thanks in anticipation,

Morna


#2

Hi, I’ve tried something I read in either Art Jeweler or Jewelry
Artist - hold the wire vertically and heat the little ball from the
top rather than the bottom, gives a smoother ball.

Rose Marie Christison


#3

I always use fine silver for headpins. I bet you’re using sterling
silver, which tends to pit when you ball it up. I’m not sure how to
prevent it; maybe someone else has a tip. I choose to completely
bypass the problem with fine silver!

Jen
http://www.jmwjewelry.com


#4

use a vice, or watchmakers anvil (hexagonal with many holes and
slots on one side and a recessed surface on the reverse for
different things…), or barring that file the shape you want in the
pin, drill a hole in your bench pin and tap it with a mid-weight
hammer…Unless you are trying to melt balls on the ends of
wires…sounds like you are forgetting to dip the tip into flux first
(Cupronil will prevent firestain/scale and assist it in rounding off
as is is a firecoat and flux in one- though any flux will do, a
liquid is better for the task). rer


#5
I'm having difficulty doing this; I can't get an even surface on
my pins. They have a wrinkled look. I've tried everything I can
think of, so hope someone here can give advice. 
  1. You should flux the wire.

  2. When the end balls up, you should back off the heat as gradually
    as possible, to avoid sunken areas on the surface of the ball. You
    can even reheat it a bit, to try to correct them. Then just the
    surface might be molten, so there would be less heat shrinking going
    on.

  3. You didn’t say what metal you are using. If you try fine silver,
    you will find it makes beautiful balls at the end of the wire.

M’lou


#6

I bet you’re using sterling silver, which tends to pit when you ball
it up. I’m not sure how to prevent it; maybe someone else has a tip.

Jen…the secret to keeping a SS pin from pitting when balling it
up is this:

  1. Dip the end in flux before heating it. This reduces the amount of
    O2 that enteres the metal while heating.

  2. As the ball approaches the size you want, SLOWLY move the torch
    back away from the ball. This will preclude the pitting you mention.

The reason for the pitting is the presence of O2 in the metal as it
balls. If you remove the flame too rapidly the metal collapses in as
the O2 escapes.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#7

Hi Jen,

I prefer to use sterling as the metal isn’t as soft as fine silver.
I make sure the ends of the wire are clean and I dip them lightly in
my flux and than throw the whole bunch in my tumbler with some
burnishing powder and stainless steel shot.

Hope this helps.
Linda Reboh


#8

Argentium Sterling balls up nicer than traditional sterling too.

Grace


#9

I also have problems with pitting, using flux reduces it but from
what I have read I believe the problem is overheating


#10
From your description, I think you are withdrawing the flame too
quickly. 

Allow the metal to crawl up out of the flame on its own and then
back the flame out very slowly. This allows the metal to cool evenly.
Sudden with drawl of the heat causes a solid, cooler skin over a
molten middle which results in the uneven surface as the center
cools a split second later.

Susan Maxon
Honors Gran Jewelry
www.HonorsGran.com


#11

An easy solution is to finish them with a cup bur.

Jerry in Kodiak


#12

Good reply, but take my advice…hold the pin up in the air, heat
with the side feather of the flame - not the small blue tip directed
on to the wire…let the ball form ever so slowly and remove the
flame – you will be using a very small - not so hot flame. I do all
my headpins with the #3 tip and Acetylene and have created nice
smooth “balls”. Sounds gross doesn’t it? Last night I tried the flux
and it didn’t make any difference!

The cup burr works wonders, too.

Rose Marie Christison


#13
An easy solution is to finish them with a cup bur. 

The easiest and most cost effective is to buy them. If you buy them
in quantities you can get them for around 15 to 20 cents apiece. I
buy the longest, I think 2 inch then cut them to the length needed
recycle the cutoffs. How many headpins can you do in an hour and how
much is your time worth plus your cost of materials?

Of course the headpins are used in the beading department staffed by
my wife and daughter. So far I haven’t heard any headpin complaints.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#14
The easiest and most cost effective is to buy them. If you buy
them in quantities you can get them for around 15 to 20 cents
apiece. I buy the longest, I think 2 inch then cut them to the
length needed recycle the cutoffs. How many headpins can you do in
an hour and how much is your time worth plus your cost of
materials? 

I would recommend Metalliferous for the best balled head pins. The
ones from Rio have a tendency to pop off.

Cheers,
Reba


#15

I generally make my headpins, from argentium wire, but I too have
noticed that the heads on the pins from Rio tend to snap off very
easily and I complained about it and was told they never got that
complaint before - so I am hoping you will also call them with the
same complaint. Maybe they will change their manufacturer.

Grace


#16
have noticed that the heads on the pins from Rio tend to snap off
very easily and I complained about it and was told they never got
that complaint before - so I am hoping you will also call them with
the same complaint. Maybe they will change their manufacturer. 

Wow, I have balled the ends of hundreds of Argentium wires from Rio
and never had that problem. I had some complaints early on when they
first started carrying it, but since their supplier now pre-treats
the wire (heating it to bring up the germanium layer) I am a happy
customer. I hope they DON’T change their supplier.

Donna
Lady Smith Studio
http://www.jewelryartisans.org


#17

Hi Donna,

have noticed that the heads on the pins from Rio tend to snap
off very easily and I complained about it and was told they never
got that complaint before - so I am hoping you will also call them
with the same complaint. Maybe they will change their
manufacturer. Wow, I have balled the ends of hundreds of Argentium
wires from Rio and never had that problem. 

I think that what the original poster (Grace, I think) was saying is
that she makes her own headpins out of Argentium Sterling because it
melts into nice smooth, round balls, similarly to fine silver. I’m
pretty sure that she meant that before she began making her own in
AS, she used to purchase SS pre-fabricated headpins, and the heads
snapped off.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#18

Thanks Cynthia for the clarification of my original post and I will
try here to make it even more clear.

Generally, I make my own headpins using Argentium Sterling wire and
they ball up beautifully, but I also have a need sometimes for a very
large quantity of headpins and it is faster just to buy them. When I
purchase them, I have been purchasing Rio’s regular Sterling headpins
and that is where I have run into the problem of the balls snapping
off, quite frequently, I might add.

Hope this make it more clear for everyone.

Grace


#19

I think that what the original poster (Grace, I think) was saying is
that she makes her own headpins out of Argentium Sterling because it
melts into nice smooth, round balls, similarly to fine silver. I’m
pretty sure that she meant that before she began making her own in
AS, she used to purchase SS pre-fabricated headpins, and the heads
snapped off.

Yes, I was saying that with the the pre-fab balled head pins from
Rio, the heads were snapping off. I will share my concerns with
them. That is why I recommended the Metalliferous balled head pins.
Not one has ever snapped.

Cheers,
Reba


#20

A good way to melt silver or gold into smooth balls is to use a
neutral flame. As the ball forms to the size you want turn off the
oxygen and let the metal freeze in the gas only flame. The
temperature of that flame is lower than the melting point of the
metal and provides a reducing atmosphere, protecting the metal from
the oxygen in the air.

John
John Winters
(360)930-0466