Making Headpins & Copper Findings for Polymer Clay Jewelry Projects

Copper Wire Headpins

“I’d be especially up for learning how to make head pins with a torch.” ~Ken

I’ve been playing with fire lately… making some copper headpins. And yes I’ve been extremely careful when working with my open flame tools… as you should be too! I can’t stress this enough, that you need to follow all the safety precautions outlined with any torch that you may end up purchasing.

Headpins are a very important and useful jewelry finding when working with polymer clay beads. They are basically a piece of wire with an obstruction at one end. The ends can be formed into a variety of designs. I’ve seen them shaped like the flat head of a nail; like a round ball you see on some sewing pins, and even embellished with crystals or other decorative items.

You slide a bead or two onto the head pin, and then form a loop with the excess wire to create dangles, charms and links. To see a couple of examples of how I used my copper ball headpins (the ones shown above in the photo), with some polymer clay beads, click on the following links:

Although the photos at the links listed above don’t show the actual ball of the headpins, you can get an idea of how this simple bead mounting technique works.

Hand wrought copper ball headpins can be made quite easily and cheaply with a small butane kitchen torch or small propane torch. One end of your copper wire is held in the flame until a ball forms, and then you quickly douse it in a bowl of water while the metal is still red hot. This creates a stunning pink color on the ball of the copper which is very complimentary to most bead projects.

If you don’t want to go to the effort of making your own headpins, here is a link where you can purchase them at Amazon:

Of course you can also purchase more expensive headpins in a variety of metals including: Sterling Silver, Silver Plate, Gold Filled, Gold Plate, Gunmetal, Brass, Bronze and Nickel.

I have tossed around the idea of showing you guys how to make balled copper headpins in an upcoming tutorial video. Are you interested? Or does the article above give you enough to go on?

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Elizabeth Kerr, 18 August, 2009

    Hi Cindy, a few weeks ago I was having trouble getting your videos.
    You emailed me to try to help
    Well I found out what was wrong and am back in business. Have just caught up to the most recent ones on the Gerbara canes, so am enthralled that I will be able to continue now.
    In case anyone else has this trouble, I will explain.
    My computer was upgraded to Internet Explorer 8 , and after that was when I could not get any videos to work.
    I finally went to Micro soft FAQs and found out how to bring back my videos by turning off a information bar and whala! there I am back in business again. It worked.
    It was like having withdrawal symptoms not being able to see my weekly videos.
    So Cindy , thanks for your great work helping us all become good polyclayists. Your videos are a joy to watch and have taught me so much.
    l loved the Raku and now the Gerbera ones.
    I look forward to Fridays when I can see whats going on
    All the best
    E. From Australia.

  2. Ken H., 18 August, 2009

    Oh yeah!!!!!- Please show us. The more of a project I can do without going to the store for something, the better. And as a request (please, please, please) how to make a simple post for stud earings and how to figure out which size earnut (little butterfly shaped thingy)to use.

  3. Elizabeth, 18 August, 2009

    Personally, Cindy, I can never get enough video teaching and since this project involves fire, (in addition to being jewlery design challenged, the appropriate use of anything combustable is another area where I am a bit deficient), having an actual demonstration is probably even more critical for someone like me (LOL). Whatever the decision, thanks again for all you do for us.

  4. Linda Dube, 18 August, 2009

    I’d like to see a video about making headpins. (The more ways I can learn something — reading, seeing, hearing, doing — the better!) And I agree with Ken about having a how-to on making a post for stud earrings. Thanks!

  5. Freda, 18 August, 2009

    I’d rather see videos on polymer clay. Headpins are so cheap to buy. JMHO.

  6. Maria, 18 August, 2009

    Cindy – I’m in agreement with Freda. While I usually welcome and love all of your tutorials, I think making our own headpins is straying away from the topic of polymer clay. I’d rather have that Friday tutorial used for another beautiful clay technique. (Plus I’m afraid I might burn the house down with the torch) :)

  7. Silverleaf, 18 August, 2009

    I’m with Freda and Maria as well – I think I can work out what to do with your written instructions.

    Presumably the same thing works with sterling silver? The melting point’s only a little lower.

    As for the pink colour, that’s the natural, unoxidised colour of copper,so presumably it will eventually oxidise into the more common copper colour.

  8. Ken H., 18 August, 2009

    @ Freda

    While it’s true that headpins and findings are relatively inexpensive, have you tried to find real gold or silver at Michaels/ACMoore/JoAnn’s, not gold or silver tone or plate but real metals. Then you get into selection, eye pins and the head pins that look like nail heads and maybe a few (and I emphasize maybe)other “bali” style headpins. If you learn the basic principles of making these, you can create anthing you need to go with whatever design you’re making, sometimes it’s just not about cost but choice.

  9. jocelyn, 18 August, 2009

    Yes! Would love to see a tutorial on this!

  10. Melinda, 18 August, 2009

    While the head pins are cool I would rather have more lessons on polymer clay, though now that I have received a block of steel in which to pound on (literally 2 minutes ago), copper working has so much more appeal!

  11. aims, 18 August, 2009

    Put me down as a yes Cindy. I think this a ‘hot’ idea!

  12. Anna Sabina, 18 August, 2009

    I also feel more on polymer clay would be better. I think your writen description on how to make head pins is good enough for me to give a try. I think it would be really hard to see video to wire in the flame. I think it just really takes practice.

  13. Ken H., 18 August, 2009


    Maybe you could shoot shorter vids as you’ve got time on some of these techniques and string maybe 3 or 4 together into one video. I don’t think (I may be wrong) but I don’t think it would take a whole video timeslot of 8-9 mins for just this. That way maybe more people could be pleased. I just like the idea of getting the whole package from creation of the beads to the final peice of jewelry.

  14. Carrie, 18 August, 2009

    I too would like a vid. As much as I love your clay videos, I also would like help in the areas of jewelry findings and design. I would love to see how to use head pins to make a linked bracelet, if you have the time!!

  15. squash, 19 August, 2009

    Hi! I’m interested in any technique that you are willing to teach us, Cindy. Making copper headpins included. All your videos are so instructional. Wire work and polymer clay go together so well.

  16. Cindy Lietz, 19 August, 2009

    Wow thanks so much everyone for your feedback! This is great!! Making your opinions known is very important to what direction the tutorial videos go.

    Do keep those opinions coming as much as possible when you are leaving your comments here at the blog… in all of the threads. It’s important that I hear both sides… what you DO want… as well as what you DON’T want.

    At this stage I am thinking that the videos would still be predominately polymer clay bead making with a splash of wire working or jewelry making info thrown in on a regular basis. So for example if I dedicated one of the four monthly tutorials to something that was not necessarily specific to polymer clay (i.e. wire working, jewelry design, etc.)… how does that sound?

    @Elizabeth – So glad to hear you are back in the loop with being able to watch the Friday tutorial videos. Thanks for sharing the technical info about that Internet Explorer information bar settings. This is very helpful to have stuff like that posted in these threads to help others who may be experiencing similar difficulties.

  17. Ken H., 19 August, 2009

    That would be great with me, but maybe to keep more people happy, to borrow from old time movies maybe add it to the begining or the end of the main video like the cartoon/short subject movie used to be, maybe once a month or once a quarter. That way the clayers still get the four vids a month and those of us who want to learn the whole process from making the beads to making the findings can get that without taking away from everyone else. JMO

  18. Maria, 19 August, 2009

    OK, I changed my mind…I like Ken’s idea…

  19. Freda, 20 August, 2009

    Ken’s idea is good if it works for you, Cindy.

  20. Ken H., 20 August, 2009

    I like doing as much of a project on my own without running to the store, I haven’t gotten the nack yet for clasps so that’s why I buy them right now.

    @ Cindy

    I hope you didn’t mind a little mediation between the groups, I really like the idea about learning how to make findings and other topics, I just don’t want to take time away from those who this is not a priority, and I hope the suggestion could fit into your busy schedule.

  21. Ken H., 20 August, 2009

    It could even be a fifth friday sort of thing. I can see it now “Cindy’s Fifth Friday Findings” video. :)

  22. Carol, 21 August, 2009

    Hi Cindy:
    I love the back and forth sharing of ideas and suggestions on your site – it really adds to my toolbox of information.

    I too would like to know how to make these headpins in more detail. I find the idea of playing with fire very appealing (one of the things about me that scares my husband). I also love the look of the ball headpins and find them very difficult to find. I’m game for whatever you want to teach us.

  23. Cheryl, 23 August, 2009

    I’d really love more teaching on polymer clay but would appreciate very much any additional teaching on wire working or creating your own findings – it’s great to be able to make the whole piece of jewelry. Perhaps once a month would be a good idea?

  24. Cindy Lietz, 31 August, 2009

    Thanks guys for your feedback! I’ll take your ideas into consideration when planning new volumes of videos for the library. I love getting your input so keep it coming!

  25. Lisa Whitham, 02 October, 2009

    What gauge of wire are you using to make the headpins? I might get out the husbands torch and try making my own… Oh, and what did you hold the wire with when it’s in the flame?


  26. Cindy Lietz, 02 October, 2009

    @Lisa: I have used both 24 and 20 gauge copper wire for the head pins. I used long handled needle nose pliers to hold the pins in the flame and dropped into water to cool.

  27. Lisa Whitham, 03 October, 2009

    Thanks Cindy! :)

  28. Phaedrakat, 01 April, 2010

    I re-read all of the comments here. It seems most people commented that they preferred having mostly polymer videos, so they didn’t vote to learn this technique. But now that there is a metal tutorial every month, perhaps this should be revisited? This would be a great technique to learn; headpins are a must for jewelry making! While you can find cheap ones at craft stores, they are only in certain metals, and you have no choice in how thick they are, or if they have a “ball” on top. I would love for these to be the next wire/metal video tutorial!

  29. Kathy Bloom, 17 April, 2010

    Gold, Silver and Copper (you can also get Bronze) wire is cheap compared to buying the findings already made and you can make them look however you want. They are an important part of the jewelry and I love seeing any techniques I can. I think one video or a portion of video a month for metal work is a great idea. I’ve enjoyed the ones Cindy has done so far.

  30. pollyanna, 17 April, 2010

    I agree with Ken and the others about learning how to do the headpins and such but still having the PC vids as the major tut.

  31. Phaedrakat, 17 April, 2010

    I looked at the “library”, and since Vol. 016, there’s been a metal or wire working tute once a month. At first I wanted all the videos to be polymer clay, since there are lots of wire/metal tutorials available out there, and not so many for PC. But the majority of the members here seem to want a bit of metal in their tutorials. I’ve come to love Cindy’s videos and teaching style, so I don’t mind one of the monthly videos being metal. In fact, I end up loving the tutes, even if it’s something I already know how to do. Cindy always manages to teach me something.

    As for these headpins, I’m so glad she’s going to be tackling them. I have a feeling they’ll be coming up soon, so long as they pass a “vote.” I made a request for a video on these on the Spoon Bail page, and Cindy commented that I’d get my wish in May. So, please vote “yes” when she presents it to us! Pleeaase….

  32. Barb, 11 January, 2011

    I love copper, the color, but haven’t had much jewelry made out of it, since it wasn’t mainstream. Now that I’m starting to make my own I was wondering, I’d like to try this technique to make headpins to fashion into ear wires for some earrings I’m making.

    I had a copper ring I made in shop class many years ago, and it turned my finger green. On the other hand, I wore the ring 24×7. Will ear wires made from copper wire and worn for a few hours at a time turn my ear lobes green? :)

  33. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2011

    @Barb: Copper can sometimes turn the hole in your ear a little green depending on the type of skin PH you have, though not usually as much as a ring will. You can seal the metal with wax or a spray like PYMII but if you have any sensitivities you are better off using Rose Gold or Copper colored Niobium earwires instead. They both look nice with copper and won’t turn your ears green.

  34. Barb L, 14 January, 2011

    Well, I’ll try it out and report back. I love the feedback on techniques and ideas that happens here at this site!

  35. Vedia E., 03 June, 2012

    I just for the first time today tried to make head pins and put them in a pickle solution, I don’t
    Ike they came out! Help me with this, is it better to leave them as is or pickle? YES!!!! I would love for you to make a tutorial on this…….I NEED IT……

  36. Cindy Lietz, 08 June, 2012

    Hi Vedia, I will consider making a headpin tutorial. You are not the only one who has asked. As far as using pickle, if you don’t like the color it turns when you put them into a pickle, don’t bother pickling them. It really is a matter of personal preference.

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