Headpin + Wire Chain Tutorial

April 29, 2015 , In: Metalsmithing, Tutorials
Trying out new ways to use murrini headpins is fun. I’ve been thinking about different ways to use them as part of a chain. Here’s one of those ideas, plus a tutorial so you can try it too. 
headpin chain necklace jen cameron glass addictions
Flush cut 1.5″ sections of 14g wire. I used sterling silver, but feel free to use your metal of choice. 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Using a chasing hammer, begin to hammer each end flat, flipping the wire over so hammering occurs equally on both sides of both ends. 

headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Hammer the center section to slightly flatten it. The ends should flare out more than the center. 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
You can leave it as the hammer texture, but I chose to use a different stamping tool on each segment to create a different texture. 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
To check the texture, color with a sharpie, then use steel wool to remove the high spots. I will patina later, but once the headpin is added, you cannot alter the texture. So I want to make sure I’m happy with it first. 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Once you know you’re happy with the texture, make a dot where you want to add holes to each end and then punch the holes with your tool of choice. 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Take the headpin you’re going to use, and bend the wire 90 degrees as close to the glass as possible. 

headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Slide the hammered link into the bend of the headpin. I tried to hold it in the smallest portion of the link (in the center). 
headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
The next part is very fiddley and difficult to photograph while performing the action. Wrap the wire as tight as possible one time around the link while holding the glass on the flat surface of the link. 
Next, wrap the copper wire around the base of the glass, between the glass and the wire. This helps to snug and stabilize. 

headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Once you’ve wrapped the wire around the base of the glass, wrap the wire around the link tightly a couple times next to the glass (again, to help stabilize and snug in place). Then wrap in a more loose organic fashion up one side of the link, leaving space for a spiral. 
Depending on the size spiral you want, cut off any excess wire. I left about 1/2″-3/4″ length. 
Take chain nose pliers and holding the end of the wire, create a spiral with the wire. When creating more than one link to the chain, you may want to pay attention to spiral direction being the opposite on each side. It’s personal preference. 

headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
The photo below does a better job of showing how the wire is wrapped onto the link and around the base of the glass. 

headpin chain tutorial jen cameron
Here’s the (almost) finished piece with a special pendant I got from Staci Louise Smith 1.5 years ago. I still needs to finish the clasp, give it a bath in liver of sulphur, and a massage in the tumbler (removing the pendant first!). I can hardly wait to wear it. 
headpin chain necklace jen cameron glass addictions
jen cameron bio

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

    Wow! What a treasure. I like very much.

  2. Reply

    Splendid tutorial. You tutorial and your design are both treasures, Jen.

  3. Reply

    What a cool design!!

  4. Reply

    Very informative Jen. Thank you! One question about putting the chain in the tumbler. What type of shot do you use? Is there risk of damaging the glass headpin?


    • Reply

      I use mixed stainless shot. The only time you have to worry about tumbling damaging glass is if the glass has thin delicate parts to it. But since these are smooth round shape, there shouldn't be any issues with tumbling.

  5. Reply

    Great tutorial, I want to try that!

  6. Reply

    I really like this! How well do you think those links would work using 12 ga wire? I have some 10 and 12 ga I want to use up and not on bracelets (again). I like the look of those links but want a more masculine look. hmmmmm

    • Reply

      I think 12g or 10g would work great! I wanted to use 12, but the largest I had on hand was 14, and I wouldn't go any smaller than 14 because it might be dicey trying to punch the holes in the ends.

  7. Reply

    This is lovely! Now I want to out and get some headpins. I pinned it so I can play later.

  8. Reply

    Absolutely stunning! I want to give this a try!

  9. Reply

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing the process and this beautiful piece of jewelry.

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