shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Brooches – A Tutorial

November 9, 2016 , In: Glass, Jewelry, Metalsmithing, Tutorials

I am currently obsessed with the idea of bringing brooches back, and I’m not the only one.  According to several articles, brooches started making a comeback in 2015. Great! But I never see anyone wearing them in my corner of the world. Why am I so invested in this? I have no idea. I don’t even wear them. But I might. Soon. I just like the idea that brooches aren’t the typical necklace, bracelet, earrings and can accessorize in multiple ways…coat, sweater, handbag, scarf, shawl, hair, etc. 

So while I am exploring brooches, I thought I would try to come up with a super easy tutorial to encourage the rest of you to join me in bringing brooches back. Because I also knit, I decided to start with a shawl pin style brooch. If you Google “shawl pin” in the images tab, you will see thousands of different styles to be inspired by. 

google screenshot shawl pin examples

What you Need:

  • 14 gauge wire
  • wireworking tools: wire cutters, round nose pliers, needle nose pliers, steel bench block, rawhide hammer, chasing hammer, file
  • headpin on a long-ish wire
  • domed enameled disc x2
  • Basic wireworking skills

To start, cut approximately 10″ piece of 14 gauge wire to create the pin portion of the shawl pin. Cut one end and file it smooth so there isn’t a sharp edge. Create a spiral with that end. Make it loosey goosey or a tight spiral according to your preference. 

Once you’ve created a spiral you like in the size you want, use your fingers to make the rest of the pin a pleasing wavy organic shape on the same plane as the spiral. Do not worry about the sharp end at this point. 

shawl pin

Once you have a shape you like, hammer it flat with the dome end of the chasing hammer, remembering to alternate sides you hammer on. It will begin to curl up, just flip it over and hammer on the other side. It doesn’t have to be a consistent flatness along the entire length of spiral or pin. Hammer more flat in some places than others and it gives it a bit more interest. 

Shawl pin hammer tutorial

Once you’ve flattened the pin, use a rawhide hammer to remove any curling issues and to work harden the wire further. Set it aside for now. 

Cut another 10″ piece of 14 gauge wire. Find something round to wrap the wire around. I used the small end of a bracelet mandrel, but anything that’s a cylinder approximately the size you want will work. Using the rubber or rawhide mallet, hammer the wire against the cylinder to help with shape and work hardening. Don’t hammer the loose ends that overlap the place where the wire meets.

Remove the wire from the cylinder, holding the position of the circle using your non-dominant hand, hold it in this shape as you further work harden the circle on the steel bench block with rawhide or rubber mallet. 


shawl pin circle tutorial

File one of the loose ends so it is completely smooth (you don’t want any sharp edges catching on your knit fabrics!) and begin spiraling it towards the center of the circle. If you want your circle and spiral to be flattened with a hammer, now would be a good time to do this. I didn’t do it at this point. That made it more difficult to do later. DO NOT HAMMER THE LOOSE END YET. 

circle shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Pick up your headpin and enameled discs. You are going to use the wire from the headpin to wire everything onto the circle. This part is a bit fiddly. In fact, I practiced with a garbage headpin first before I tried this. While holding the headpins and discs together, hold them against the circle in approximately the location you want them. They will slide at this point, so it isn’t super important they are in exactly the correct spot. 

Wrap the headpin wire one full turn around the circle wire, then bring it back up until it’s under the disc (ends up being about 2 wraps) and then wrap it around itself under the disc (see photo). This helps stabilize the disc. 

circle shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

At this point you want to make sure you have the discs in the location you want them. Then take the remainder of the headpin wire and wrap around the circle in a loose manner a few times, then use the wire to wrap the spiral to the circle so it’s locked into place. Leave the headpin wire end loose for now. 

Circle shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Next file and smooth the loose end of the circle and spiral it in the opposite direction of the spiral inside the circle so that it makes an S shape as in the photo above. Once you have this spiral how you want it, coil the remainder of the headpin wire at the base of this spiral, locking it into place. Then you want to use a chasing hammer to flatten and a rawhide/rubber mallet to work harden. 

Remember that pin we set aside earlier? Pick that up now and measure it against the circle you just created. You want it to be longer than the circle, but not super long. If you aren’t certain, try it out on a knitted garment to see what it looks like. Cut the pin to the appropriate length, then cut the tip into a gentle point. File that point so it’s smooth and not super sharp (unless you want it to be super sharp. But for knitted garments, it isn’t necessary.) 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

At this point you could patina if you want ( I haven’t. Yet. But I do think it would look better)

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

This design allows for some flexibility in how its worn. 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Before each photograph I picked up the knitted garment to see if the piece held that position. The answer was yes for every configuration I tried. 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Another example I tried was this discarded flower “headpin” created on a long (10″ or so) annealed steel wire. 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

In the photos below, the steps I took were to take the flower headpin and wrap the wire around the bracelet mandrel, work harden and slightly flatten the wire, then wrap the wire around itself below the base of the flower. When I was happy with the shape and knew I wouldn’t use any more of the annealed steel wire, it was trimmed. 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Once the end of the wire is secured, I took a piece of 22 gauge copper wire and wrapped it loosely around the circle for a decorative effect and coiled it so the coiled portion wasn’t visible from behind the flower. 

In the below example, I simply used a copper washer as the circle. This lends itself to stamping or enameling if so desired. 

shawl pin tutorial jen cameron

Jennifer Cameron

Combining fire and glass since 2005, Jen Cameron discovered jewelry making after realizing a small child could disappear in the growing collection of beads sitting around the house. Jen is the adoring mother of two, jackpot winner in the husband category, and zookeeper of several pets. Jen is also the instigator for bringing together this team of innovative, talented, passionate and dynamic women to write for Art Jewelry Elements.
  1. Reply

    I too love Brooches, luv the ones you made and thanks for the tutorial.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Gloria! Glad you like it. If you try it, please let us see it!

    • Carol
    • November 10, 2016

    Beautiful tutorial! Would love to do this in a BeadFest Class!

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