Make Your Own Spiral Head Pins

Make Your Own Spiral Head Pins

Working as a freelance writer and designer has its perks. For instance, right now I’m still in my pajamas, my hair looks like I’ve been on a G-force machine, and it’s 11:00. The commute is very eco-friendly and the commissary is about ten steps away from my office.

Another great perk is that publishers like Interweave often give me sneak peeks at books that are coming down the pike. This week they let me preview Sharilyn Miller’s Contemporary Copper Jewelry. All I can say is . . . wow. I remember when I first started teaching wirework classes and told students “Go to the hardware store, pick up some cheap copper wire, and practice your techniques with it before you use precious metals; you can just toss it if you make a mistake.” Well Sharilyn proves that copper wirework is not throwaway, but a versatile, beautiful material that can be wireworked, textured, drilled, and woven. The projects within have an earthy feel due to the color of the metal, but all are very modern, very creative. The projects are intriguing enough for intermediate and advanced wireworkers, but the ample step-by-step photography is great for people who are just learning. I’d definitely recommend this book.

Make Your Own Spiral Head Pins

Copper wire is a wonderful material because unlike other metals, it’s extremely malleable. That’s why I’d always recommend it for beginners—you can concentrate on what you’re actually doing with the wire without struggling to bend it. I love that copper is in vogue now because it’s so easy to work, and yes, it’s cheap enough that few tears will be shed if you end up with a kinky mess. So why not head down to the hardware store, pick up some cheap copper wire, and try out this head pin that you won’t want to toss?

  1. Clean the wire with steel wool; use wire straighteners to get the wire really straight, and flush cut the end. (You can work this head pin straight from the wire spool.)
  2. Use chain-nose pliers to make a 90° bend in the wire about 1" from the end. 

  3. Grasp the bend with round-nose pliers so the pliers are perpendicular to the 1" tail wire. Keep the pliers in place as you use your fingers to bend the tail wire around the tip of the pliers’ bottom jaw.

  4. Switch the pliers grasp so the top jaw is in the loop just made.

  5. Make another wrap around the top jaw like you did in Step 3.
  6. Grasp the beginning of the coil within the widest part of chain-nose pliers. Use your fingers to guide the tail wire along the spiral until you reach the desired width.

  7. Flush cut the end so it flows along the edge of the spiral and file out any rough spots if necessary. 

This is just one way to make a head pin, but I can think of many more ways. Can you? Why not share them on the website? 

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Beading Daily Blog
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

17 thoughts on “Make Your Own Spiral Head Pins

  1. I am so pleased to see this method. I’ve been trying to make these, but using the wrong end of the spiral as the pin. My method makes the spiral sit ascrew on the bead – your’s actually works. Thanks! Karen, Dreamcatcher Designs

  2. I love this idea and can’t wait to try it. the coil would stay tight to the bead and be decorative too. And the best thing is that you don’t have to take out the torch! Thanks Jean!

  3. Thank you very much for showing this one Ms. Jean! I thought that we could make our own headpins, I just wasn’t as clever as you to figure out how! Now I know and my mind is reeling with ideas of how to make others! How about one made like a rosette ring? I made some earrings with a little rosette, I’m pretty sure it would work as a headpin too! Here’s where I got the idea for the earrings…
    Cool, eh? <3 Dig 😀 XOXOX


    I have a bride coming in soon to make jewelry sets for her bridesmaids and we’ve been trying to think of ways to make headpins a little fancier than hammering the end of the wire to make a “paddle”. These can be just about any size to accommodate the bead and are very simple to make.

    Just one comment – do you REALLY use those chain nose pliers instead of the “jeweler’s” variety – you know, the ones with no teeth to scratch the wire? I think I’d use the nylon jawed chain nose pliers – especially if I was using a color coated or plated wire.

    THANKS for the inspiration – I know the bride will thank you, too!

    Deb – AZ Bead Depot

  5. Thanks for the great idea! I’m heading out to my shop now to try it.. and by the way, we must have the same hairdressor lol Love copper and turquoise!

  6. Deb-Don’t worry, those are jeweler’s chain-nose pliers–just pretty beat up as the edges are all bent up. I guess it’s time to get some new tools!

  7. Great idea – I am going to try them tonight!!! Love the look of copper. I enjoyed the review of Sharilyn’s book – I have a couple of her DVD’s and “Bead on a Wire” and she is an awesome teacher. Thanks.

  8. Love this idea!! I love Sharilyn’s stuff also. I have made most of her stuff out of copper and the annealed steel wire from the hardware. I love the earthy feel of it compared to the brilliance of silver. Another idea for headpins is to actually tie a knot in the wire and trim it close to the knot on one end and leave the other side for the pin. I then file the burr off the ends of the wire to smooth it out for use. Each one ends up a little different and you have to pull hard to get the knot to tighten, but it never does tighten like string unless it’s the 26 gauge or smaller. Try it, you might be suprised at what you get!!

  9. Jean,
    Sure looked like teeth to me! Do you think you can find someplace (like and LBS) to get some new ones? ::stirring:: The bride came in yesterday afternoon and I showed her the spiral headpin to use to make a drop dangle for her necklaces. SHE WAS THRILLED – such a simple touch made the world of difference! We BOTH thank you for this one!!

  10. Great idea for a decorative headpin, Jean. I usually just fold the end of my wire against the main wire and trim it to be about 1/8″ long and then slide the beads on. Your idea is more decorative!
    2 good recommendations to help out:
    1. When twisting wire, try using NYLON JAW PLIERS instead of metal pliers. They won’t scratch the wire. Use your round nose pliers to start the spiral ring and then use the NYLON JAW pliers to twist the wire around the ring.
    2. I love the copper wire available from Artistic Wire (the Natural Copper finsih) or Darice, since they don’t tarnish. (With the Artistic Wire, the Natural finish stays shiny, while the Bare Copper finish will darken with use.)

  11. Hi Jean,
    I am new to wireworking. I have tired to make the decorative head pins but get lost between steps 5 and 6! Mine came out like a big knot. What am I doing wrong? Thanks

  12. Nina- Be sure that you’ve changed the round-nose pliers’ jaws so the top jaw is in the loop. Then just pull the wire over the top of the jaws. This will create a little circle that you can grab onto with your chain-nose pliers. Next you’ll be wrapping the wire so the revolutions sit side-by-side. Does that help? Jean