I make my own head pins in several gauges. Most pearls will fit on
22 ga wire, but the smaller ones may be limited to 24 ga wire.
Here's my procedure.
Using sterling wire:
Cut the wire into the length you want. To determine that, you'll
need to experiment by cutting several lengths, each one longer by 2
or 3 mm - record your lengths for future reference. Then dip the
length into boric acid and alcohol, burn off, and holding the wire
vertically in cross-lock tweezers, melt one end into the ball you
like. Repeat with each length. Drop into pickle and let them sit
for a minute. Remove from the pickle, rinse, and lay them down in
order of length - measure each one and match it to the record you
made earlier. Now you know how much length you lose when the ball
is formed. You can use these sample headpins to determine the best
length for your purpose, and cut as many as you think you'll need.
I cut at least 100 at a time... mindless work ... watch TV.
Now melt a ball on each length, following the procedure above. After
all have been pickled, rinsed, and dried, they can be tumbled. The
easiest (read laziest) way I've found is to use charged walnut
shell, DRY, in either a rotary or vibratory unit. It may take a
little longer (overnight), but the small pins are easily pulled out
of the dry media, there's no clean-up, and they don't work-harden
NOTE: if you want to use the Argentium silver wire, it melts
differently and the ball formed will drop off if it gets very large.
Regular sterling will melt and form a much larger ball before
gravity pulls it off.
I store the headpins in clear vials or translucent film canisters,
labelled by gauge. It's nice to have an assortment of gauges and
lengths ready to use.
Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas where the weather is acting very strangely - it
SNOWed on April 29 in some areas! Got to harvest asparagus daily
before it gets frost-nipped at night.