Friday, October 16, 2009

Making Glass Headpins my way

Sometimes, when making jewelry you need a special headpin. What I like to do is to make my own headpins using glass and copper wire. There are other ways to make headpins, and I'll show you my experiments later.

What you need:
My special tool ---------------->
It's handmade and easy to make!

Take an alligator clip and put it on the end of a mandrel. You can pick up the alligator clips at your local hard ware store. You should have a mandrel to fit.

You also need some copper wire. I use 20 gauge copper wire. You can also use silver wire, but at the current price of silver, you might want to experiment with copper.

Oh, and yes, those holes are in my stool because I accidentally put hot mandrels there. Ooops!

Open the alligator clip and insert your wire in the clip. Straighten out the wire as much as you can. You can just use your fingers to do that.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION NOW! Make sure you have good ventilation. Copper and silver can give off fumes that can be hazardous to your health.

Working high in the flame, and working very quickly, warm up the wire very gently so that you can apply glass to the wire. Do not work the wire too long because you will either end up with a ball at the end of the wire, or the wire will fall down on to your work area.

Working quickly, apply a small bit of glass to the wire. Take the wire out of the flame. Melt the glass in the flame then add more glass to the wire. You won't need much. Just keep applying the glass in little bits until you get the side the size of a bead that you would like at the end of the wire. Quickly melt the glass, but don't keep the wire in the flame or the glass on the end of the wire will fall off.

See what I mean?

After the glass is melted onto the end of the wire point the wire down vertically for a short time so that the glass will stabilize.

While the glass is still warm and glowing turn the glass up vertically and it will turn into a ball. Using your mashers or a pair of pliers, remove the copper wire from the tool and put the headpin into the kiln to anneal. Be careful so that you don't burn your fingers. That's why you use the mashers.

One important thing to remember when making headpins is that the entire process takes a very short time. Don't over cook the glass and wire.

When you take the headpins out of the oven, you will see how the wire has oxidyzed. When the headpins come out of the kiln, clean the wires with a soft cloth to get rid of the excess oxidation on the wires.

Variations: Roll the molten glass in frit and melt in the frit.
Instead of leaving the glass in a ball, flatten the glass into a paddle.

Most important tip: Work the glass high in the flame and keep it cool!


seiko said...

Whoa, that is AMAZING! An artist at work. Thank for sharing those pics. I'm so envious of you glass artists. And what an awesome idea for head pins. Very cool!

Evelyne said...

I've been searching a very long time for this explanation! Thank you so much!! It really helps me a lot!