March 21, 2008

Is that Sagebrush?? or a Mess of Headpins???

What in the world are you talking about?? I can hear you asking this if you are not a jewelry designer. LOL I just recently started selling a few components on one of my etsy stores and someone just asked me a question about my prices. The question was "why is the price for 1.5 inch headpins the same as 2 inch headpins when I'd be receiving less silver"? The answer is simply that it is the same amount of work whether I make short or longer headpins.

The process of making headpins, while extremely simple, is highly boring and repetitious. I know quite a few long time jewelry designers whom even know how to do a little metalsmithing who will purchase premade fine silver headpins, even though they have the capability of doing it themselves. Why would they do that?? Because it can be a very tedious process, and these women don't have the time nor desire to make them themselves.

Headpin making is so easy. If you are a beginner jewelry designer, or even a long-time, established jewelry designer, and you utilize a lot of headpins in your designs, you REALLY want to teach yourself how to make headpins. Its quite simple, and a money saver in the long run. Even if you only use a handful of headpins a month. Truly!!

Ok, I hear some of you non-jewelry designers asking...uh, what is a headpin? *grin* These are headpins:
And this is a visual as to how we use them:
We add gemstones/beads/lampwork/anything with a little hole to the headpin and use the pin to wire wrap those same gemstones/beads/etc., to our designs. It adds a whole other dimension to your designs in addition to stringing. Learning how to wire wrap a headpin (or eyepin) is one of the first skills a budding jewelry designer learns., back to the original question and first pictures. *grin* The process of headpin creation, as stated several times, is quite easy. You take your spool/coil of fine silver wire, cut it about 1/2 inch longer than the length you finally want the headpin (give or take a quarter inch depending upon how large/small you want the little ball to be), put the end of that little piece of wire in to the fire at the end of your torch, wait a moment as you watch it ball up, plop it into your container of water at hand to quench, and voila! You have a headpin.

Normally, at this point, after I have a huge pile of finished headpins, I dry them off and use them in my designs. But, as I am selling headpins now, I actually take my headpin creation a wee bit further. What? you're asking. What else do you do to those headpins?? I tumble them. Refer back to the first two pictures in this post. That is what the headpins look like after I tumble them. WHAT??? Are you kidding me?, you ask after you stop laughing. Yes, I tumble them. Sure, I could probably tumble a few less at a time instead of several hundred, and they will probably come out a bit straighter, LOL. But, I don't have that kind of time to stand and wait and change batches every 15 minutes allll day long. Soooo, I just plop em all in there together.

So, what do you do at this point? Well, I straighten them. And this is the fun part. Not!!! LOL *grin* I take my blob of headpins to a comfy chair, grab my Nylon jawed pliers and go to town on straightening those headpins. And, uh, its not fun. Grabbing those tiny little balls and pulling with the pliers is HARD on your fingers. Go try it yourself and see how your fingers appreciate it after about 20 of them! *grin* I guarantee you will NOT like it unless your fingers are work-calloused like mine are.

As I said before, when I make my own, personal headpins I typically do not tumble them, I use them directly in my designs. But, then once the jewelry piece is complete, I will tumble the finished jewelry, which polishes the headpins (and entire piece) nicely. I tumble my headpins now because I'm selling them, and it is just an extra perk that my headpin buyers receive when they purchase from me. The tumbling polishes, slightly hardens them, and the straightening hardens the fine silver even more. If you've ever made fine silver headpins yourself, you immediately notice the difference between sterling and fine silver as you're wrapping. Fine silver is muuuuch softer.

Anyhoooo.....soooo, quite a loooong drawn out answer to the original question, eh? *cheesy grin*


CastoCreations said...

You crack me up!!! Great post.

Karen said...

Interesting! I saw a designer make headpins the other night on DIY Jewelry Making (when I couldn't sleep). So this chick gets it. All you jewelry designers absolutely boggle my mind at the intricate work you do. ALL of it!

Jennifer said...

*smoochies* Thank you Karen!! See? I think the same thing about you knitters!!! *grin* I do NOT have the knitting talent in these hands of mine. *grin*