Fired up

I love making headpins.

I mean I REALLY love making headpins.  There’s something about firing up that little torch, holding metal to the flame, and seeing it transform that just makes me happy.

Headpins are those little sticks of metal that beads are generally strung on for dangly things.  Like earrings, or bracelets, or necklaces.  You can buy them, but the way I see it, why not just make them since they’re so fun to make?  Here’s how I do it….

First, I cut a whole lot of fine silver (that’s 99.9 % pure silver) sticks.  This is 20 gauge wire, and each one is about 2 1/2″ long.

2 1/2" lengths of fine silver wire

2 1/2″ lengths of fine silver wire

I always cut them in groups of 10 and keep them in their little group until they are fired.  I’m kind of goofy that way, I have to make lots of 10, can’t end on an odd number for some reason.

Next, I fire up my little Butane torch.  I pick up a batch of 10 wires, and one at a time, hold one end in the very tip of the blue flame (that’s where it’s hottest!).  When it starts to glow, I flip it up quickly, or the whole thing will be a melted mess on my soldering brick!

Look at how hot that's getting!!

Look at how hot that’s getting!!

You can’t see my pliers, but the ones I use for headpin making (and anything else that requires potentially ruining my pliers) are an old pair of crummy ones with a long nose so I don’t burn my fingers.  After I flip the wire up, it starts to ball up at the bottom.  Pretty soon (like instantly) I’ve got to get it out of the flame so it doesn’t all melt away.

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!

 

Still hot, but no longer in danger of falling off!

Perfect….

To finish it off, I drop it in a small bowl of water that I keep right next to the soldering block…technically, it’s called quenching.  Since these are made from fine silver, not sterling, I don’t need to remove any firescale or tarnish, which form when high heat from the flame interacts with the alloys in sterling.

Bunches and bunches of headpins...120 to be exact!

Bunches and bunches of headpins…120 to be exact!

Now they are all ready to be used for wrapping beads.  I’m thinking about making something along the lines of this piece, which was called “Little Black Dress #2”.

Little Black Dress #2

Little Black Dress #2

Can’t wait to get to the studio on Saturday to work on it!