I am a beginner in jewelry making. Right now I am going to just buy
some but I think I eventually want to make them myself. I heard you
take some sterling wire and put it upright in a vise and lightly
hammer the top of the wire and then file it to get a nice clean look.
Does anybody do this? How do you go about using head pins in your
jewelry? Do you make them or buy them? I really want to use them
because I love jewelry that dangles and requires the use of head
I am a beginner in jewelry making. Right now I am going to just buy
Hi, LinZ, The way I was taught to make head pins seems easier to me.
Melt a tiny ball on the end of your wire (just hold the fluxed wire
vertically with the bottom in the flame just outside the tip of the
central blue cone). Then find a steel tool with a hole that fits
your wire tightly. A draw plate is perfect, but if you don’t have
one, you can get a drill guage for about $15. Lay the plate on top
of an open vise or eqivalent, so the steel is well supported, and
tap the balled end flat. If you want it rounded, you can then use a
cup bur on it. Or tap it with a beading tool in the first place.
Personally, I generally like the little ball on the end better than
a flattened disc such as with a traditional head pin. Have fun! Noel
It’s quicker to make head pins by fusing the ends. Do this by laying
the cut sterling wire on a brick with just a bit hanging over. Bring
a small flame directly at it in the same direction as the wire.
Remove the flame as soon as a ball pulls up. It may be a little
misshaped but can be cleaned up quickly with a hammer if it is
droopy and filed for other flaws.
A lot of people melt the tip of the wire with a torch, so that it
forms a small ball. I think this might involve less work than the
method you mentioned - and since you said in your last post that you
are buying a torch to solder jump rings, you wouldn’t need any
additional equipment, other than what you need for your soldering
Hi Linz M,
I have read all of your posts and it seems to me that you would
benefit greatly from a beginning jewelry class. Working with a torch
is a matter of patience and practice. Having someone show you how to
do it while explaining the process is a great way to start. Although
you should do your research before you take a class there is nothing
like seeing it done first hand.
To answer a few of your questions… All soldering should be done
before beads or stones are added. Use a wire wrapping technique to
add embelishments. Check out: http://www.beadshop.com/leontere.html
for some basic instructions.
Unless you need a specialized headpin or are fabricating a one of a
kind piece you’re best off to buy your head pins. The amount of time
it takes to make a headpin outweighs the cost.
Soldering jump rings is a laborious process. Check out the Orchid
Archives where there have been many posts on this particular subject
Making your own neckrings.Does the cost of labor outweigh the
purchase of a piece already made? If you want to make one to know how
to make one… go for it! If you’re hoping to sell your work by
making production pieces then you have to factor in your time. Again,
it probably makes more sense to purchase ready made.
Pricing your work. Who is your target audience? What materials do
you want to work with? These are questions only you can answer. If
you spend some time reading the posts on Orchid you’ll find that most
people making jeweley are more interested in how one uses materials
to create a piece than what the materials are to start with. Also,
informing your consumer as to what it is they are purchasing.
I hope this helps. Please check out the archives, there
are vast amounts of invaluable free for the taking. Read
all of the books you can and take a few classes.
Best of luck,
I usually take my torch (if you have one) to the end of a piece of
wire and melt the end into a little ball (that is bigger than the
hole of the bead). I usually like to polish this little ball and
have it be a part of the design, but I’ve also pulled it through a
draw plate and hammered it flat.
Leslie Anne Wright Macy
A nice book with clearly laid out pictures of beads and findings
along with techniques is “The Book of Beads” by Janet Coles and
Robert Budwig, ISBN 0-671-70525-3
The Book of Beads: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Beads and Jewelry Making Hardcover: 125 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.50 x 11.50 x 8.75 Publisher: Simon & Schuster; (August 1990) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671705253/theganoksinpr-20
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Purists no doubt make each and every
one. I would be barking mad if I tried that. I buy them, from
South Pacific Wholesale < www.beading.com> or Pegasus (no website -
800-742-BEAD). I use them to make earrings, dangles, bead clusters,
assemblies for use as bead “stations” (I understand that’s the
proper term), and I save the longer clipped-off ends to make links
and double jump rings. I always make wrapped loops on the pins
instead of just turned loops, so my bits and pieces won’t fall off
if snagged. You can see many uses of them on my website.
I make my own head pins with the soldered ball in 14K or higher
gold, I don’t bother for the silver or gold plate. Too much work, you
should save your production time for other things. I order them from
Rishashay.com. Also, I’ve found the technique works much better on
gold than silver. My gold ball head pins always turn out great, but
the silver often gets crinkles in the ball. One thing that I do
sometimes do is make a head pin with a little spiral at the end when
I don’t have a head pin that’s long enough.
First, I agree with everyone who said that you need to read a lot of
good books and, if possible, take classes. Also, that focusing on
wire work is a good (perhaps ideal) way to begin.
What you’re describing sounds possible, but time consuming, and I’ve
never tried it. You might want to try just hammering the end of the
wire–instead of a “head,” you get a “paddle,” and you can vary its
length by how much you hammer. Plus, if you use really good flush
cutters, you don’t need to do much finishing. Sometimes, just
squeezing the end of the wire (hard!) with a pair of pliers can
create an impromptu head pin for a small-holed bead, but be sure to
finish it carefully, so it doesn’t snag on anything.
Other Orchidians have described the more classic “ball head pin” for
you–it’s actually quite easy to make them (you can use a butane
micro torch), but requires flux, pickle, cleaning, etc. I have
instructions for making “perfect” ones (from Chris Hentz’s workshop),
if you want to email me off list.
On the other hand, you can do what I do most often–make "fancy"
head pins by shaping the wire into scrolls, etc. Mark Lareau’s book,
All Wired Up, is your best bet for learning this and might even
inspire you to focus on wire and get really good at working it before
you move on.