About Me

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I am an artist, wife and mother, paraeducator, yo-yo dieter, and small town country girl. I love singing in my church choir, computer time, beading and making jewelry. And I love enameling! There is something very magical about turning powder into smooth, shiny, and colorful glass.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday's Tutorial

my trusty butane torch

                                                     Making Balled Headpins

I sell a lot of hand made balled headpins in my shop. You could probably get them cheaper at Michaels, but by making them yourself (or buying them from my shop!) you get gorgeous shiny pins in the gauge you pick. First you need some argentium or regular sterling wire in 20, 22, or 24 gauge. The 20 gauge is heavier and may not be good for small hole beads but it's rich and professional looking. The 24 gauge is good for smaller holed beads or wrapped links and loops. The 24 gauge is good for pearls. Argentium sterling resists tarnishing and is great to work with.
My torch was purchased at Home Depot, was inexpensive and works great for melting silver. It doesn't get hot enough to melt copper. 
To make a 1 1/4 inch headpin cut 1 3/4 in of 20 ga wire. Light your torch.

 Hold the wire in the pliers. Put the end of the wire in the flame. The best spot is just outside of the dark blue inner flame. You can tell when the silver starts to melt by the orange flame shooting behind it. If you look at the picture below closely, I managed to capture this exactly!

the sweet spot

The wire will melt into a ball. I found that the slower you can lift the wire out of the flame, the nicer the ball looks. The smaller gauge wires will ball up quickly. If you leave the wire in the flame too long, the ball will just fall off. The wire will get dark and unattractive looking.

I clean my headpins with PennyBrite and then put them in my tumbler. I love my Lortone tumbler! It's a great tool for making your metals strong and shiny, I use mine all the time. If you don't have a tumbler, clean the headpins, polish them with silver polish or cloth and hammer them with a rubber mallet to work harden them. If you want paddle shaped headpins, just hammer the balls flat.

20 gauge hammered       24 gauge              22 gauge

                                               See how pretty?

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