Beginning Silver Fusing: Free Video on Making Headpins

Jul 28, 2008

Carrying a Torch?

Using a torch can be scary.  There's something about holding a flame--no matter how petite and charming--that is a little unnerving.  I've taken three classes that used a torch for a small part of the class.  I'm not going to lie and say that I'm perfectly relaxed and comfortable around a torch, but I survived the experience and am working up my courage to learn more.  I thought there might be a few of you in the same boat, so I asked bead artist Cassie Dolen (see her beautiful project on the cover of the Summer Preview 2008 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry!) to create a video showing a simple technique using a butane torch.  Cassie and I discussed several options and decided that making headpins would be a great beginner project.  If you make earrings or dangles for any type of jewelry, chances are you're using headpins.  Have you ever thought about making your own?  You could make them whenever you wanted and whatever length you needed.  Sounds tempting, doesn't it?

Cassie begins the video with a discussion about set up, showing you how to load the torch and the basic equipment you need.  She shows you step by step how to create a headpin, using two different gauges of wire.  In addition to the resources she mentions, you should also check your local shop.  You'd be amazed at the variety of resources that shops carry.  You also might want to check out "Playing with Fire:  Choosing a Butane Mini Torch" by Step by Step Wire Jewelry contributing editor Ronna Sarvas Weltman.  This free article on Beading Daily will let you know what to look for in your first torch.

Watch the Video

(If you don't see the video above, you can view it here.)

After you finish the video, I'd recommend that you take a look at Silver Wire Fusing by Liz Jones. This book features large, clear step-by-step photos and instructions for a number of beautiful projects, including a cool coiled ring project that uses a variation of the same basic headpin idea that you just watched in the video. The basic metalsmithing section in the front of the book covers everything from setting up your workspace to practice exercises like how to make basic chain. The author has lots of classroom experience (always a plus) and just like Cassie Donlen, she makes working with a torch seem possible for mere mortals! Purchase the book today.


Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.


 


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Comments

PatT@32 wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 1:23 PM

Thank you for the info on head pins. I make my own eye pins not I can make head pins as well.

     Moma hen

JanetB@73 wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 1:54 PM

This is great - I have Cassie's lampworking video and her instruction is always clear and concise.  Thanks for giving us this extra bit of skills training!

on Jul 28, 2008 3:15 PM

The free video was great--Cassie's explanations were clear--I'm going right up to my workshop to try it out!

CorsD wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 4:48 PM

This is fantastic, thanks so much for the knowledge sharing!

Amy@185 wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 5:55 PM

Thank You Michelle and Cassie for taking the time to share this technique with me.  I am very intimidated by the idea of using any kind of torch.  I think this video will help me be more confident that i can do this.

Samantha E wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 11:22 PM

Thank you ! I really enjoyed this video, I would love to have a go at making headpins, I think the ones with a ball on the end are so much nicer!

S.L.B wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 11:36 PM

Thank you! This was interesting and made me feel like I could make my own head pins. The step by step instructions, especially about the butane torch!

Jsmaz wrote
on Jul 28, 2008 11:57 PM

Good grief, who knew making headpins was so easy??  Now, if my husband will only let me buy a torch...

Cassie@15 wrote
on Jul 29, 2008 9:07 AM

Hi guys! Cassie here...just wanted to say thank you for all the kind comments. I'm glad to see the video is useful. I hope it entices you to feel more comfortable using a butane torch.

I  want to apologize for the fuzzy video quality. We tried so hard to make it better.  Since the video is around 7 min. long, YouTube did some major compressing of the file which resulted in a poor picture quality. When the camera zooms in like it did for the actual making of the head pins, the picture is a bit more crisp.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to work YouTube and make video quality improved, I'm all ears!!

Cassie

on Jul 30, 2008 9:35 AM

Hi Cassie. I teach how to make polymer clay beads in video online. Although my husband does the filming and I am not too up on the technical stuff, I do believe he converts the files to flv format which is flash video. The videos turn out really great and don't have that fuzziness that happened in yours.  Hope that helps. ~Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor

LyndaD@7 wrote
on Jul 31, 2008 8:27 PM

where do I buy fine silver I have no idea what fine silver is

thanks lynda

Cassie@15 wrote
on Jul 31, 2008 9:06 PM

Hi Lynda,

You can find fine silver in lots of places. Just do a Google search for "fine silver" and you will find all sorts of on-line stores that sell it.

Fine silver is just a more pure form of silver. Sterling silver is .925 pure and fine silver is .999. This makes it much softer to work with than even dead soft silver but is perfect for doing silver fusing and the silver head pins.

You can make the head pins with sterling silver but it will turn black with fire scale and then it will have to be put in a pickle solution to remove the firescale.That is why fine silver is such a great option because it won't turn black in the flame.

Hope that info helps. And thanks Cindy for the scoop on fiv format. I'm going to check on that for sure!

Cassie

Tnowotny wrote
on Aug 2, 2008 9:07 AM

I too am really interested in doing things with a torch but have be afraid of all that seem to go into, pickling etc - using the fine silver seem so much easier.  Can it also be using the make fused silver rings?

I'd love to see more videos from Cassie on the subject.

Teresa

KarenK@90 wrote
on Aug 2, 2008 3:08 PM

Hi Cassie,

The video was great and made using the torch so less intimidating.  I do have a question about fine silver.  Does it come in different tempers?  I was going to order some but it has half hard and soft as options and I was confused about that.  I can't seem to find any info on fine silver that refers to a specific temper.

Thanks for holding our hands and giving us such great guidance.

Karen

on Aug 4, 2008 9:56 AM

You can use fine silver to make silver rings.  You will need to either work harden or put it in a polishing machine to harden the silver.

I learned fusing using fine silver so the idea of having to pickle something intimidated me.  I was given the tip of using a simple pool chemical (pH decreaser) to pickle with and I now use sterling with no problems.  I still use fine silver if I am only fusing the silver to itself.

I also recommend the book by Liz Jones.  I own this book and have also had the pleasure of taking classes from Liz.  If you want to explore more fusing, Liz's book takes you through it step by step.  Soon you will be fusing with total confidence!

Paula

Cassie@15 wrote
on Aug 5, 2008 10:01 PM

Hi Karen,

Hmmm.. I've never known fine silver to have tempers like the sterling silver does. It is all basically all a bit softer than dead soft. That is just because it is .999 pure.

You can work harden it though by using a hammer like a rawhide hammer if you don't want any marks or a chasing hammer to make the round silver wire flat.

Yes, this same method with using a butane torch can be used to make silver rings too. I have a step by step article showing exactly this process and how to texture the rings with steel stamps and a chasing hammer in the Summer 2008 Preview Issue of Step By Step Wire. If you can't find this edition on the store shelves, I'm sure you can buy a back issue from the publisher on the website.

If you have other questions, post it here and I'll pop in and answer or feel free to email me at cassie@glassbeadle.com

Thanks!

Cassie

Susylee wrote
on Aug 19, 2008 5:31 AM

Hi Cassie,

Susy from South Australia(Australia)

Thanks for another clear, simple detailed video.

Im using the beads you made me and now will start making my own head pins.

All the way from Down under I thank you. You are the best

Cheers Susy

Lampwork wrote
on Dec 30, 2008 9:17 AM
Hiya Cassie. People keep telling me how easy working with a torch is but until seeing the video making my own headpins seemed unlikely. You've made me realize I can do it too. And for that, I thank you. Helen in Toronto
Ann M4 wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 9:43 AM
Thank you so much! I have a torch, but have only used it in class because I didn't feel completely comfortable with it. This gives me the confidence to start using it at home to fuse silver wire. Ann
Yvonne@70 wrote
on Jan 5, 2009 1:45 PM
This was very slick. It makes me want to start using a torch again. However, I want to stay away from chemicals such as pickle that is used to remove firescale. Is there firescale when she uses this wire? Thanks. Mina in BC.
jojo921 wrote
on Jan 6, 2009 6:51 AM
How long does it take the "ball" to harden? Does it happen rapidly when removed from the flame. Curious if laying down the newly created head pin woudl cause it to flatten.
Adrienne@23 wrote
on Mar 3, 2010 10:07 PM

Thx so much for this video. You just saved me a ton of money. Have you seen the price of ball tip headpins?

bigbee wrote
on Mar 6, 2010 8:40 PM

Thanks! This video is great!  I was wondering if you could give me any advice on creating a double-headed pin - like threading a bead against the first head and then finishing with a second head on the other side of the bead - I've been looking at some Ten Thousand Things jewelry pieces and they seem to have that detail.  

Here's a link in case I'm not being clear: www.ylang23.com/shop_prodDetail.cfm

 Is this possible using the torch or is there a better way of getting this effect?  

Many many thanks!!