In jewelery making, ball tips are created on the ends of headpins. Headpins are thin pieces of wire with a wide flattened portion at one end that acts as a stop for beads and prevents them from falling off. Headpins are used to make bead dangles or charm links for earrings, bracelets or necklaces. The beads rest against the head and the remaining wire of the pin is wrapped into a loop that connects to a piece of jewelery. Ball-tipped brass headpins are called ornamental headpins. They are used to add an artistic touch to the ends of beads.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 22 gauge brass wire
- Bent tip hemostat locking tweezers
- Small jewellers torch
- Wire cutters
- Tape measure
- Slow cooker
- 1 teaspoon jewelery pickle solution
- Stainless steel tea ball
- Copper tongs
- Old toothbrush
Cut a 1 1/2-inch section out of a 22-gauge brass wire. Pick it up with your locking tweezers and hold it with your main hand. The brass wire should hang straight down from the tweezers.
Light a small jewellers torch. Hold the torch upside down to make the flame point up toward the ceiling. Hold the flame under the hanging end of the wire. The brass will start to melt and look like it's crawling up as it forms a ball. Once this happens, remove the flame and set it aside and allow it to cool.
Make cleaning solution or pickle for the brass ball end. After a brass wire has been heated it needs to be cleaned in a weak acid solution that is called a pickle. Fill your slow cooker with water. Add 1 teaspoon jewelery pickle to it and plug it in. When the water has heated, stir it with a stainless steel tea ball so that the pickling solution dissolves entirely into the hot water.
Gently lay the small brass ball end wires that you have made into the pickle, taking care not to let the pickle splash, as it contains harsh chemicals that can burn your skin. Let it sit for three minutes, watching the brass balls. Remove them--once the discolouration caused by the torch flame has disappeared--with your copper tongs. When you are finished using the pickle, turn off the slow cooker.
Wash your brass ball headpins with an old toothbrush and soap and water to remove the pickling solution. Dry off your headpins. They are now ready to be used to make jewelery.
Tips and warnings
- Another method to create a ball end on your brass wire is to heat the wire with the flame of the torch coming from the side of the wire, not beneath it.
- Pickling solution can be reused until the solution becomes visibly dirty.
- Take care when handling pickling solution as it consists of an acid that can harm skin and eyes.
- Open flames can burn and pose the risk of starting fires. Operate torches in a responsible manner to avoid accidents.
- Turn your slow cooker off between uses so that it doesn't cook over night and evaporate, which can ruin the ceramic pot of your slow cooker and poses a serious fire hazard.
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