5th Friday Fun: Making Your Own Jewelry Headpins

Copper Wire Headpins6 Guest Videos: “The more of a project I can do without going to the store for something … the better.” ~Ken-H

As I recently explained just a few days ago in my “5th Friday Article”, there will not be a video posted at the Polymer Clay Library this week for paid members. Nor will there be any color recipes.

However… I did compile a small collection of YouTube clips further down on this page, that will show you how to make your own headpins.

Although several of you really wanted me to film a new tutorial on this topic, there were others who felt I should not “use up” one of the 4 video time slots for this purpose. So hopefully today’s post will be a good comprise.

Now I realize the quality of filming and teaching in these YouTube clips is not what you are used to receiving from me. But hopefully my added notes below each of the video presentations, will help to make up for that.

Please note that open flame torches are tools that can be dangerous if you are not careful with them. I will not be responsible for singed eyebrows, house fires or any other liabilities for that matter! If you follow any of the advice below, do so at your own risk. You will notice that in my commentary, I have addressed safety concerns with several of the clips.

YouTube Clip #1 of 6:
Crafting Fine Silver Headpins:

^^^ I love this video. It has good safety tips and filling instructions for butane torches. She only uses fine silver though and doesn’t quench the pins. Notice how she has no flammable materials anywhere near her workspace. As well she is holding her pin over a cement block so that the heat from the torch is aimed at it and if the melting ball of metal falls off, it will land on a nonflammable material. With copper, it is a little harder to melt and it may take longer to form a ball. As well, keep the wire at the tip of the cone inside the flame where the heat is the hottest. I like to hold the torch upright rather than pointed down at the surface like she does in the video.

YouTube Clip #2 of 6:
Balling Up The End of Wire:

^^^ Decent video. No safety info, though. She uses sterling silver, flux and pickling solution. Which is not necessary for Copper. If there is a lot of black oxidation on the headpin, you can remove it with steel wool.

YouTube Clip #3 of 6:
Making Silver Headpins for Jewelry with a Micro Torch:

^^^ Good safety info. She uses fine silver and quenches her pin (dips in water to cool off). Don’t like that she uses a plastic cup for quenching. Could accidentally melt hole in cup with hot pin. I like the info and tips she gives. Don’t like that she doesn’t hold onto her torch while working with it. It could fall over and catch everything on fire. Added Note: If you want to get that nice rosy color on your copper headpin, make sure to quench the pin while the metal ball is still red. If you wait until it cools a second before quenching the head will go black.

YouTube Clip #4 of 6:
Talking Torches:

^^^ Very good info on torches. Safety and insurance issues and what type of torch to buy. Doesn’t go into how to make the pins but it is valuable information to know and worth watching.

YouTube Clip #5 of 6:
Making Copper Headpins with a Small Butane Torch:

^^^ The only video I could find that shows making a copper headpin and the rosy colored ball that forms on the end. I don’t like how no information was given though. No tips, no safety, no talking, no nothing. Plus I hated how she held the pin in her fingers after quenching. Sure it was probably cold, but you could easily forget and grab it while it was hot and burn yourself terribly. Better to quench right away and then set on a ceramic tile until you were done all the headpins. This way they’ve for sure had a chance to cool.

YouTube Clip #6 of 6:
How to Make Your Own Headpins:

^^^ Decent information though she said that Sterling won’t work, which is not true since we saw in a previous video that it will work if you use flux first. I like to cut the wires at 3-4inches long so I have enough wire to work with. Copper is cheap and you can always use the scraps for making more pins later. I also don’t like how she brings her pin in from the side of the flame and not from the top. This will create a lopsided pin. As well, she isn’t holding onto the torch, so if she bumps the table the torch could fall over (not a good thing).

So I hope you enjoyed this 5th Friday Interlude. Jewelry headpins are very handy to be able to make yourself. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you will also be able to customize them to your specific needs. Have fun !

** Did You Know… Members with current subscriptions to the weekly tutorial videos are always entitled to a 10% discount when purchasing 6 or more back issue packages in a single transaction. If you are interested, let me know which back issues you would like and I will send further instructions on how to complete your order.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Ritzs, 30 April, 2010

    Thank you Cindy that was so good to watch and guess what I will be doing today, and I wont feel guilty because it’s raining and when it rains in Wales it RAINS

  2. Lianne L, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks for these videos. They have given me the confidence to try and do it for myself, and also to save some money.

  3. Gayle, 30 April, 2010

    Wonderful collection of information, Cindy. I’ll have to add copper wire to my wish list now!!

  4. Hobokenmary, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks Cindy…now off I go to buy a butane torch! Every time I think I have all the supplies I need, I find something else that I could use! YIKES!

  5. Peggy Barnes, 30 April, 2010

    Love the information you added to each video. I now know what kind of torch to look for that will fit my needs. THANK YOU AND DOUG BOTH for giving us more than we paid for once again. I will be headed into town later today to pick a few items up and see if I can’t do some advertising for the worlds best tutorial duo.
    Uuuuuuugggs, Peggy

  6. June Wright, 30 April, 2010

    These were really great! How much fun! I think it’s off to the hardware store to look for a torch for me too….I have the fine silver and copper….just wonderful info that gives me the confidence to try these things! Thank you again Cindy, I can’t believe what a great value I get from subscribing to your site. Keep’em coming!

  7. Silverleaf, 30 April, 2010

    Awesome! I wanted advice on this because although I’ve used torches in the past (and I used to use Bunsen burners to bend wire and work with glass in my old job as a school lab technician) I wasn’t sure how big a torch I’d need or what type, or how long it should take to get the ball, or how to stop silver oxidising.

    Now to order some fine silver and get myself a torch! Thanks for this Cindy! :)

  8. Maureen, 30 April, 2010

    That was fun! Thanks Cindy! I bought a torch and all the supplies over a year ago after I took a class on metal clay. But then I “chickened out” when I was home by myself. I was afraid to use it. Everything is still in the shopping bag! Now after watching these videos and seeing how easy it looks and remembering all the safety tips I think I will DO IT!!! lol Thanks again Cindy. (But you are right…none of these videos look as clear or sound as good as yours do!)

  9. Pat Sernyk, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks for that Cindy. A great compilation of ideas and very helpful. One of these days I am going to get a torch.

  10. Bonnie Kreger, 30 April, 2010

    That’s really interesting but I’m not allowed to touch anything with a flame on it. I set the microwave on fire twice, started the grill on fire and burned our dinner so that’s gone now. Guess I’ll stick to buying head pins.

  11. edie, 30 April, 2010

    These are great – but like Bonnie, I think I’m gonna stay away from the flames and head to Etsy…. or, sounds like a great micro business for one of your tutorees! LOL!


  12. Joyce M, 30 April, 2010

    That was very interesting and informative. Thank you Cindy for doing the research for us. I’m also very glad you are here with your comments. I don’t know that I’m that confident to take this on right now but if it seems to be cost effective in the future I will feel much better prepared to try it. Its still a great Friday. Thanks for being you….the best!

  13. Melinda Herron, 30 April, 2010

    Fabulous information! Thank you!!

  14. pollyanna, 30 April, 2010

    love all this information. Just when I think I might have all I need to do the polyclay, I find I don’t. Gosh, I just found the alcohol ink….lol. Well, think of all the fun I’ll have catching up. Is Ken off singing somewhere. Don’t remember seeing him in a while. All of you having surgery and ill. you are all in my thoughts and hope all are well soon.

  15. Phaedrakat, 30 April, 2010

    I’ve got my torch & my butane, now to get brave and fill-er-up! I sure hope it works – it looks easy enough on video. I don’t have any fine silver, though (only sterling,) so I’ll be trying it with copper. This is exciting! Thanks, Cindy, for finding these and adding your input, which I value so much!

    You & your husband make excellent videos; seeing these today is a reminder of that! (Although these aren’t so bad; there are some really bad vids out there…) TGIF, for those of you lucky enough to work. And thank goodness next Friday, Cindy’s back with a pretty leaf charm video (Lietz-quality, assured!)

  16. Donna, 30 April, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: sterling silver works just fine and as for a safe pickling solution try citric acid a safer solution than the acid normally used and found in the cooking aisle at your supermarket

  17. Phaedrakat, 01 May, 2010

    @Donna: Thanks, Donna. Do I need the flux with the sterling wire, or are you able to do it without flux? I only have a micro-torch.

    Also, great tip about flattening the balls on a flat surface if you prefer flat headpins. I’ll mostly be making the rounded headpins, though, myself. They’re so decorative, almost like having another little bead at the end — especially nice for dangles!

  18. Cindy Lietz, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks everyone for the comments and ongoing support. I had a feeling you guys would enjoy seeing these headpin videos!

    Copper Headpins

    A few of you indicated a preference to continue buying headpins instead of making them yourself. I can appreciate that.

    Since I’ve already got a bit of a system set up for making copper headpins, I’d be more than happy to make a few more for anyone who wants to place an order. Here’s the details…

    Copper Balled Headpins:
    * Sets of 100
    * 4 inch length
    * 20 gauge copper wire
    * Rosy red head ball color
    * Pickled to remove oxidation and enhance color
    * Tumbled for hardness and strength
    * Handmade by me, Your Polymer Clay Tutor :-)
    * Cost is $30 USD per 100

    This gauge and length of my copper headpins is much more versatile than the standard 2″ pins. And they work with most bead hole sizes.

    If you are interested in ordering, click on the link to send me a note with your shipping address. I will get back to you with instructions on how to complete the transaction.

    If you have a preference for something other than 20 gauge or a 4″ length, let me know. I’ll do my best to accommodate.

  19. Maria, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks you Cindy and Doug for taking care of us! I’m curious – how do you make the flat top head pins? I imagine they need to be hammered but can’t quite figure out how the top splays out in a round shape. Couldn’t find anything good on Google about it.

  20. Donna, 30 April, 2010

    @Maria: If you press the hot pins on a fire proof surface immediatley after balling they will flatten

  21. Lawrence, 30 April, 2010

    Great selection of videos Cindy and something learned from each of them. I’ve had the micro torch (leevalley.com) since taking a metal clay workshop and loads of copper wire from Home Depot so now just have to make those headpins. What are the proportions of salt to vinegar for the pickling solutions as I seem to have missed that one.

  22. Laurie, 30 April, 2010

    OMG! What a great video! I didn’t even finish watching the whole thing before I bought my torch! I had to go to work, saw the tools I needed, picked them up on my way home, and…well as soon as I get off the treadmill, I’m on to head pins! I just joined today, so hello everybody!

  23. Joyce M, 30 April, 2010

    @Laurie: Welcome to the community, Laurie. I know you’ll have fun here. You’re starting with the best, that’s
    Cindy of course. Happy claying…


  24. Phaedrakat, 01 May, 2010

    @Laurie: Welcome, Laurie! Where or what country are you joining us from?

  25. Peggy Barnes, 01 May, 2010

    @Laurie: WELCOME Laurie!!
    I am sure you are going to love it here. Any help you need just ask and someone will come to your rescue. Where are you from and how did you find Cindy? If you enjoy it here half as much as I do you will have a BLAST! This is the home of the never ending, loads of fun, best information you can find on PC and more. Glad you joined.
    Uuuuuuuugggggs, (the painless hug) Peggy

    Phaedrakat I think you have to use flux with your sterling silver. Watch Cindy’s #2 video pick. This is how she did her sterling with flux.

  26. Jill, 30 April, 2010

    I had to google “What are headpins?” I’m so new to jewelry making, I had no idea what they were. I was pretty sure they weren’t pins to stick in your head. Now I know that they are pins with a horizontal part that keeps the bead from falling off. I think I’ll give this a try over the summer when I have more free time to tend to potential burns. (I want to learn how to solder too.) In the meantime, I will be placing an order for Cindy’s headpins.

  27. Cindy Lietz, 30 April, 2010

    Thanks everyone for you kind comments!

    @Maria: If you are referring to the regular headpins that look like a nail head, I think that is done with a machine.

    @Lawrence: Does a glug of vinegar and pour of salt work for you? Cuz that’s what I did! :-) If I had to guess I would say about a cup of vinegar and an 1/8th cup salt. Have no idea if there is a better proportion to use. The one I mixed worked fine.

    @Laurie: Welcome! I am so glad you are here. You are going to have so much fun! Make sure to pop by here as often as possible. Read the posts, ask questions and leave comments. Get to know everyone here. They are not only a sweet bunch but they are also very helpful!

    @Donna: Great tips! Thanks!

    @Jill: I’ve got your headpins ready to ship Jill.

  28. Linda K., 30 April, 2010

    Thanks for gathering these videos for us Cindy. They are very useful, although not up to Lietz standards. I like how you put your comments below each video. I liked that the man in the BBJ video recommended a torch. That’s the one I will look for.

    I was wondering about the flat headpins myself. Can you squish the ball on a ceramic tile while it’s still hot?

  29. Loretta, 30 April, 2010

    A good use for my creme brulee torch. Thanks for sharing the videos with us Cindy.

  30. Lindsay Weirich, 30 April, 2010

    wow, looks like fun, with my luck I’d have singed eyebrows LOL!

  31. DawnB, 30 April, 2010

    This is wonderful Cindy! Thank you so much. I was clueless. Thought I needed to get a soldering iron to make these.

  32. Cheryl Hodges, 01 May, 2010

    Welcome Laurie!! Glad to have you join us. Cindy is the best ever and you are going to have so much fun claying. Our clay family is great too, always there to answer a question, encourage and support each other.

  33. Laurie, 02 May, 2010

    Thank you all for a warm welcome! I was surfing the net trying to find out how to use the clay roller I bought 3 years ago! Cindy’s site came up and I spent 2 hours reading and viewing the video previews, she offers a few freebies so I signed up to recieve them. I was hooked! I am from Eastern North Carolina, USA. 20 minutes from the ocean, 4 hours from the mountains and 4 hours from the piedmount depending which direction you go! I am so looking forward to learning how to make beautiful beads and making new friends as well!

  34. Linda K., 04 May, 2010

    OK, so this got me to thinking…not always a good thing, LOL.

    Anyway, I notice that there is no mention of making balled headpins with gold or brass wire. Of course, solid gold is far too expensive for my budget. I imagine that trying to ball gold-filled wire would give messy results because of the brass in the core…if the brass will even melt.

    What I’m really interested in is brass. Does anyone know if you make balled headpins by using a torch on brass?

  35. Sue F, 04 May, 2010

    @Linda K.: That’s a good question! I don’t know, but I expect it would work because brass melts at an even lower temperature than silver or copper.

  36. Phaedrakat, 06 May, 2010

    @Linda K.: I’m interested in this, too. I can’t seem to find info on it. I did read that although the melting point of brass is low, it’s difficult to melt. That’s because the copper and zinc begin to separate as the melting point is reached. Not sure if that would happen with basic brass wire, but I’m afraid to experiment! I wish an expert would speak up on this subject!

  37. Cindy Lietz, 10 May, 2010

    @Linda K.: I tried brass and I couldn’t get the ball on the end to form right. It kind of splirted and melted all funny. I guess the different metals were melted at different rates or something. But I couldn’t get it to work. Should be fine with Gold but I am not positive on that, since I don’t have any Gold wire to test it on.

  38. Linda K., 10 May, 2010

    @Cindy Lietz from Polymer Clay Tutorial – Ivy Charms: Well, that makes sense about the different metals and their melting points. I guess I won’t bother trying to melt brass. I don’t have any gold wire either, so it doesn’t matter to me if that would work. I have some gold-filled wire, but even that’s too expensive to experiment with.

  39. Phaedrakat, 10 May, 2010

    I imagine REAL gold’s OK; but gold-filled wire might not work, either. It depends on whatever it’s FILLED with — if it’s an alloy like brass, we might have the same problem.

  40. Linda K., 03 June, 2010

    I finally bought a torch yesterday…I should have come back and watched these videos again before I did. I got a pencil torch that came with several different-shaped soldering tips, and I bought a can of butane. The print on the instructions is so tiny, I can hardly read it (and I’ve got brand-new reading glasses). They put the photos, also tiny, on the back, so I have to keep flipping the sheet over to see what they’re talking about. I was not happy to read that you need to light the torch with a match or lighter.

    When I tried to fill the torch with butane, I realized that I needed to remove the tip. Nowhere does it explain how to do this. After 30 minutes of trying to figure it out, I put the foolish thing back in the box. Tomorrow I return it to Home Depot and buy the larger micro torch that is self-igniting. What made me think I needed all those silly soldering tips, anyway?

  41. Phaedrakat, 03 June, 2010

    @Linda K.: Sounds like a nightmare! My torch & butane are still sitting in the bags I brought them home in. I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, but I sure hope I don’t have a similar problem! I bought an inexpensive torch at Harbor Freight. We’ll see if I can get it filled with butane okay… Sorry you had all that trouble!

  42. Linda K., 05 June, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: I returned the pencil torch and got the self-igniting micro torch that can stand up all by itself…although for safety reasons, I have no intention of working with it without keeping my hand on it to be sure it can’t fall over. It looks like the same torch that was in a couple of the videos.

  43. carolyn, 05 June, 2010

    Cindy – Is there anything else that you are aware of that we would use this torch for? I can’t see buying a torch just to make headpins. What other uses would there be? Will this be used in future tutorials?

  44. Phaedrakat, 07 June, 2010

    @carolyn: The Ultradome website suggests a torch to get rid of air bubbles in the resin, but you can use a simple BBQ lighter for that. Depending how far into metal-working you want to go, the torch can be used for all kinds of things. You can use a torch to solder jumprings; to anneal metal (like difficult-to-bend silver spoons, thicker gauges of wire or sheet, or work-hardened wire;) or even to fire certain metal clays. (Althought I can’t see Cindy doing a tute on metal clay when there’s still so much to do with polymer!)

    Whenever metal/wire tutorials are brought up, it seems like there are mixed reactions. Some people love them, saying they enjoy getting all of their jewelry-making tutorials in one place. They like having all the tools they need to make every part of a completed piece of jewelry — pendant, beads, clasp, the works — start to finish. Others prefer that Cindy concentrate on strictly polymer clay videos, since that’s the reason they joined. They also say that polymer clay videos are hard to find or lacking on the web, while the info on wirework is plentiful and easy to find.

    Because of this “disagreement” about how much metal or wirework should be taught, I doubt Cindy will venture very far into that world, at least tutorial-wise. I think she will stop at shaping, cutting, and wrapping wire/metal. If that’s the case, I doubt her tutorials will require a torch. That’s just my guess, though. She is the Polymer Clay Tutor — it’s up to her! (And who knows where her creative muse will lead?) Another thing that could happen is she could guide us towards info on another metal-working technique, like she did with the headpins. Well, I can quit guessing. She will answer your question and let you know, if I stop talking for a minute! LOL

    I hope you’re feeling a lot better and stronger, Carolyn. It sure is nice seeing your comments here at the blog! :~)

  45. DJ, 23 June, 2010

    @carolyn: Here’s one variation – I noticed this clip a few days ago, thought others might find it interesting to use with copper sheets and a torch. For a quick look, you can jump to the 6:30 point….it gives a good example of the pretty effects achieved. This is a bit experimental – I like the layers of colors and seeing all the variations you can make when heating copper. I just bought my torch yesterday, but I’ll definitely try this out when I can…maybe a hammered bezel variation?! Important to watch the first few minutes to catch the safety suggestions and tips made too.

  46. Linda K., 09 June, 2010

    I exchanged my pencil torch for the Bernzomatic self-igniting micro torch at Home Depot ($25). It looks like the one used in video #3. The instructions are in teeny-tiny print and the part about adjusting the flame makes no sense at all. It talks about using “the sharp pin” to adjust a gear to number 4, but the gear doesn’t appear to be on the torch…if it’s there, I can’t find it.

    I watched the videos again and tried out my torch. The 22 gage copper balled up without a problem, but the 20 gage would not. I finally got a crooked ball by holding the wire horizontally into the flame. That’s probably not very safe either.

    After I quenched my headpins in a jar of water, I put them into a jar of vinegar/salt pickle. After only about 5 minutes, the firescale was almost all gone. The rest wiped off with a cloth, leaving a matte finish in a very soft peachy color. I found that you have to burnish the copper to get it to shine again.

    So, I have some questions. Does anyone know where the adjustment gear with numbers 1-4 is on this torch and how to adjust it? Should a micro torch be able to ball 20 gage copper wire?

  47. Cindy Lietz, 11 June, 2010

    carolyn: Phaedrakat answered your question quite nicely! That is all I use my torch for. Headpins, fusing and soldering (just learning those), and annealing. Thanks Kat!

    @Phaedrakat: Who knows wear the teaching topics will lead? It all depends what you all want and what I think will be best. For now it is usually 1 bead shape tute, 1 cane tute, 1 technique tute and 1 special project (wire, metal, resin, jewelry design, etc.) per month.

    @Linda K.: I don’t know where the dial is but I would look at the nozzle and see if there was a slot or something where a pin could be inserted to turn a dial. The temp regulation has to do with the amount of oxygen that can get to the flame. So I’m guessing it is in the nozzle where an air hole would be.

    As far as the 20 gauge wire, the mini torch should be hot enough once you adjust it. If you can get it to melt by aiming it into the flame, then you may be holding your pliers to close to where you’re making the ball. The heat kind of stops going up the wire and starts heading into the pliers (at least that what it seems like to me.) Try holding the wire further back. If that doesn’t work, start pointing in until the ball starts then quickly move back to the top so the ball forms properly.

  48. Linda K., 22 June, 2010

    @Cindy Lietz from UltraDome UV Epoxy Resin: Cindy, I did look at the nozzle, but couldn’t find anything. When I have a minute I’m going to write to the company to find out what they have to say.

    I was holding the wire at the very top of the pin. Are you saying that if I heat the entire wire, it will be easier to get it to ball up?

    Thanks for your comments.

  49. Phaedrakat, 22 June, 2010

    @Linda K.: The tool acts as a heat sink, if held too close to ball end, draining the heat away from the wire. Hold the tool at the opposite end, or as far back as you can from the torch end. Leave the wire longer if you want to have more to “hang on to”, then hold as far back on the wire as you can. (I learned about this long ago when I learned about electronics & soldering them, but I need a refresher course to explain the why better…) Hope this helps a bit, though. If not, it gives you something to research! ;D

  50. Linda K., 22 June, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Cat, I did hold the wire at the tip, as far back as I could go from the end that was in the flame. You’re explanation makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, I’m already doing it correctly, so it must have something to do with that setting that I can’t find. The flame must not be hot enough to heat the entire length of the 20 gage wire.

  51. carolyn, 22 June, 2010

    @Linda K.: Now I do wonder what the composition of that wire might be. 20 gauge copper should work really well … and you should be able to bend it easily.

  52. Linda K., 22 June, 2010

    @carolyn: Oops, Carolyn, I think I might have confused you. I’m the one using 20 gage copper wire…I’m very sure that it’s copper. It bends quite nicely, but I had trouble getting the end to ball up. I think the setting on my torch…the heat is too low.

    Claycass is the one with the stiff wire that looks like copper. In an earlier post you suggested that it might be a thick gage of copper.

    Do you think that Home Depot sells wire that has copper coating?

  53. Linda K., 09 June, 2010

    The vinegar/salt pickle can also remove tarnish from copper. A few years ago I decided to try wire wrapping for the first time on a fossil stone. The only wire I had at the time was probably 24 gage. About a year later I got some heavier gage copper wire, probably 18 gage, and made a chain. The fine wire tarnished to a dark brown, which blended in with the stone, so you could hardly see it, while the heavy wire only tarnished a little.

    I dunked the whole necklace into my pickle (I put about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a glass jar). I swirled the necklace around for about 30 seconds, then rinsed it in plain water. When I was done…WOW! The tarnish was totally gone and the copper was really bright and shiny.

  54. Phaedrakat, 11 June, 2010

    My torch is still sitting in the bag. But the good thing is I can actually SEE the bag now. I have a lot more organization and putting away, but I want to be claying and using resin within the week! I just hope I don’t have torch troubles like Linda’s having…

    I read on another blog that someone is going to make their own UV light to cure resin. The fixture she’s planning to use for it is just like the one I gave away after it didn’t sell at the yardsale we had a couple weeks ago. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it. I knew it was a UV light! What was I (NOT) thinking?!!!

    I bought my nephew a Bearded Dragon a few years ago. He didn’t take care of it, so care & feeding became my responsibility. The pet & setup cost quite a bit of money, so I took care of the little (and then much bigger) guy for a long time. I truly loved that friendly critter (yep, and I’m a cat person who’s never had a reptile!) The nephew I bought him for decided to play with him one day out of the blue, and “lost” him outside. I was so furious — I’m getting mad again just thinking about it! Anyway, the gear has been put away all this time, and I forgot about the UV lamps & heat lamps. I can’t believe I didn’t think UV when looked at that fixture at the garage sale! Okay, I’ll stop. I just can’t b–
    Um, bye…

  55. Laurie, 12 June, 2010

    what kind of wire do you use to make the headpins?

  56. Phaedrakat, 12 June, 2010

    @Laurie: Hi Laurie, hope you’ve been enjoying yourself around here! The easiest wires to melt with a butane torch are fine silver and copper wire. You can also do sterling silver wire — some of the videos suggest using flux on the wire first. (Sterling silver will oxidize too, so you’ll need to use pickle to remove it.) Usually you’ll want headpins using anywhere from 24 to 20 or 18 gauge wire, depending on what beads you’ll using them with. Good luck with your headpins!

  57. Claycass, 21 June, 2010

    I purchased some wire from Home Depot. It was copper colored, but I don’t think it is copper. When I try to create head pins it takes a long time for the metal to melt into a ball. I am going to have too take a picture of this stuff, so we can figure out what it is, and what I can do with this stuff. I have a really large spool of it. It is pretty stiff, and reluctant to bend.

  58. carolyn, 21 June, 2010

    @Claycass: What gauge is the wire that you bought? It sounds like it might be too thick.

  59. Linda K., 22 June, 2010

    @Claycass: What is the gage of this wire? How long was it taking to make a ball? What kind of torch are you using?

    As Carolyn said, it might be a thick gage of copper, which would explain why it is stiff. I can’t think of another kind of wire sold at Home Depot that looks like copper.

  60. Lawrence, 24 June, 2010

    Thanks for the video DJ. What an interesting way to work with the copper and I love the hammered bezel idea. I am off to buy some more butane ;-)

  61. Brenda, 10 September, 2010

    Wow” I just mastered making the copper head pins today. I have tried and tried and could not do it with the little kitchen torch. I placed it in a different way and valah!

  62. Stephanie Bargelski, 17 September, 2010

    Hi Cindy,
    I am getting ready to buy my torch and supplies. Where does on buy the right butane for the torch. aqll so I want to knoe where to buy the pure silver and copper wires


  63. Stephanie Bargelski, 17 September, 2010

    Sorry I didn’t check my spelling. fat finger hitting the wrong keys…

  64. Stephanie Bargelski, 17 September, 2010

    Hi Cindy,
    I am getting ready to buy my torch and supplies. Where does one buy the right butane for the torch. Also I want to know where to buy the pure silver and copper wires


  65. carolyn, 17 September, 2010

    @Stephanie Bargelski Hi, Stephanie, You should be able to find butane in a hardware store, something like Home Depot or Lowe’s. About buying wire, I usually get my copper from therockhaus.com; I sometimes get my sterling from them and sometimes from hagstoz. I’m sure each of us would have our own favorite places to shop.

  66. Phaedrakat, 19 September, 2010

    @Stephanie: Hi there! I just wanted to add a couple things…for one, I saw butane at Walmart the other day. I also saw it at a local dollar store, but not one of the “chains”…so it could have been a fluke. I also wanted to add that when you look for “pure” silver online, it’s usually referred to as “fine” silver. You probably know this already, but just in case, LOL! I haven’t bought any yet, although I’m dying to try it with the torch. My budget’s saying “NO”, though — I have tons of wire (all kinds) already!

    This “wire” question actually comes up quite a bit. Home Depot and Lowe’s don’t seem to carry as much copper as they used to, but Ace Hardware still does, at least in my area (California.) For online sources, try using the search box at the top of the page. There are some posts where people have mentioned their favorite online stores. Be creative with your search, like “where buy wire” “buy wire online” or something even weirder! Then, if you want to quickly scan through a long post for the relevant info, use your browser’s find option (or try Control + F.) Then type in “wire” and you can get thru the comments faster…

    Here’s one post that has some recommendations to start you off, Super Deals on Copper Wire.

    Best of luck with your search! ~Kat

  67. Cherie, 01 November, 2010

    I ran out of headpins today and had a shot at making my own copper balled headpins. I had the same wire that’s in Cindy’s post about wire – the copper 20 guage from Home Depot. I could not get my wire to melt and ball. All that kept happening was it was getting red hot and black. Any one had the same problem?

  68. Linda K., 01 November, 2010

    @Cherie: Cherie, some of us discussed this problem back in June (see above). I found that if I pointed the 20-gauge copper wire into the flame it finally balled up. The problem is that it involves holding the wire horizontally into the flame… once the wire starts to ball you have to move really quickly to point the balled end of the wire down. Otherwise you end up with balls that tilt to one side.

  69. carolyn, 01 November, 2010

    @Cherie – I had the same problem. I am 99% sure the problem is that the butane torch is not getting hot enough. Torches have ratings as to how hot they got. Those little ones used for popping bubbles in resin just don’t have a high enough rating. I’m waiting until I get home and then I’ll go searching for one that gets hotter. In the meanwhile, if you find one, please let me know what you found.

  70. Cherie, 02 November, 2010

    Thanks Carolyn and Linda. I’m using a torch I purchased from Canadian Tire – I used it for my silver clay and it worked. Will try again and let you know.

  71. carolyn, 02 November, 2010

    Silver has a lower melting point than copper.

  72. Rebecca (Becky) Chisenhall, 25 August, 2011

    Sigh….I bought the exact torch in video #6, a very cheap one. Too cheap, perhaps? I tried it a couple of times, but I was in the house and nervous about it, so probably didn’t heat the wire long enough to get a result. Anyway, filled it again the other day (don’t think I filled it enough the first time–zero instructions came with it) and now the butane is not coming out at all. The little ignitor seems to still be working, I can see the spark in the little tube (if you can imagine that part!), but definitely no gas coming out. Sigh again. Anyone have any suggestions as to what might be wrong before I toss it out? I guess I can’t throw it away actually anyway, since it’s full of butane and would be dangerous. Is it possible to overfill these things and then they don’t work? Or do I have a lemon on my hands?

  73. Linda K., 25 August, 2011

    @Rebecca (Becky) Chisenhall: Actually, Becky, there’s a possibility that it doesn’t have any butane in it. You might have released all the gas instead of putting more in. I used to have a butane-operated curling iron and I’d run into that problem once in awhile. It was a very long time ago, so I don’t remember why it happened.

    Or it could be defective. Why don’t you return it to the store where you bought it?

  74. Rebecca (Becky) Chisenhall, 26 August, 2011

    @Linda K.: Thanks for replying, Linda. I thought of that, too, that it might really be empty, but I tried pushing the bottom fill tube with a metal rod and butane came hissing out rather well. So…..don’t think that’s the problem. May be something wrong with the valve on top that opens it. I may try taking it back, for sure. Can’t hurt to try. I do appreciate your input, Linda!

Copyright © Polymer Clay Tutor Bead and Jewelry Making Tutorials