In this tutorial, Kim Thomson shows you how to make simple balled head pins using sterling silver round wire and a gas torch.
This is a really simple technique and is great for using when creating handmade earrings. The ball can be used as a decorative effect or act as a stopper if you would like to thread beads onto them.
In the video tutorial below, Kim walks you through every step from creating the balls, finishing them to transforming them into simple bead earrings.
1. Turn on the gas torch and place the fluxed piece of wire in the tip of the blue flame until it forms a ball. (In the video, Kim doesn't use flux but it is recommended to help the silver to melt into a smooth ball.)
2. Quench in cold water.
3. Repeat with another piece of wire and ensure the balls are the same size.
4. Next, you need to clean the head pins by either pickling the piece or using wet and dry sheets.
5. Use a rawhide mallet to work harden your head pins by gently tapping them on a steel block.
Optional: For a decorative effect, you can use a ball pein hammer to gently tap the ball so it turns into a coin shape.
0.8mm round wire is the best wire to use for making ear wires with. For best results, apply flux to the ends of the wire before melting.
This is a brilliant basic torch, suitable for most of your jewellery making needs. It has a large flame, so it heats your work up quickly. After creating the balls, pop your head pins into pickling solution for removing fire stain.
Applying flux to your silver before heating is needed when melting as this helps it melt into a smooth ball of silver - without the flux, it can create gnarly lumps of silver and make the process harder.
These tweezers are made from sprung steel, so they open when you squeeze the handles and grip without effort. Perfect for jobs like this!
As Kim shows you in the tutorial above, a ball pein hammer is a great tool to use if you want to achieve a 'coin' effect on your ball. Simply hit your headpin with the round side of the hammer until it flattens.
A steel block is a great tool to have in your workshop. It's important that you have a good quality surface when using a hammer or forming wire.
You can use a rawhide mallet for work hardening your earrings. Simply place your work on a steel block and gently tap it with the mallet to strengthen your piece.
Some people prefer to buy head pins ready-made, at Kernowcraft we have a range of styles available in plated, sterling silver and 9ct gold to suit your needs.