Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back in November I blogged about how much I wanted to make my own silver headpins, the kind with little balls on one end of them. Since I don't know how to solder, and since I was obsessed with wanting to make headpins, I resorted to using my GAS GRILL to make some. (Here's the link to the original tale. )

Since the gas grill had the unfortunate side effect of burning off all the hairs from the backs of my hands, I thought I should go ahead and invest in tools that could help me make those headpins.

I read up about propane torches and other similar weapons of destruction, and decided that maybe I should start with something a bit smaller: a butane microtorch. "Micro torch" sounded so inocuous. Plus I read somewhere that they're pretty useful for soldering.
So I went to my local Home Depot to find my toy.
Let me introduce you to my purchase: the amazing BENZOMATIC:
Together with the butane , this little baby only set me back about 25 dollars.

Next step: filling it with butane and lighting it.

My son helped me with this. It took about an hour to figure out how to fill the torch with butane and light it so that it produced a steady flame. If it wasn't for my son, this probably would have taken me at least 10 minutes.

Whoo hoo! Now for the headpins!

I cut up some lengths of 22 and 20 gauge wire, then realized I didn't have an good way to hold them in the flame. (Using my fingers would be a BAD idea.) I remember someone mentioning that sticking them in sand worked well. Unfortunately I didn't have any sand. It crossed my mind that soil might be an alternative, but the ground outside was frozen solid.

So what could I stick the wire in to make it stand up so I could flame it?
The best thing I came up with was a slice of white bread.

So that's what we did. Unfortunately, the flame from the Benzomatic wasn't hot enough to melt the silver effectively. It took so long that the bread started to toast up. And it took forever for the 20 gauge wire to ball up and make headpins.

Despite my optimism for the Benzomatic, I wan't exactly happy with the results. So I decided to return it and get something BIGGER.

Oh yes. I went out and bought myself a butane torch. So please look forward to hearing about my new adventures. I'm sure I'll be blogging about them soon.


  1. Gemheaven said...
    lol I use fine silver (much easier no firescale and quicker to melt) I want a proper soldering torch next - be warned FIRE is addictive ;0)
    knittingdragonflies said...
    Oh yeah, looking forward to better toasting adventures. Good luck.
    I'm no good at jewelry making so I just live vicariously through others and buy it.
    LoveMeKnot Creations said...
    i kinda liked the name of it...bernzamatic...
    hehe. have fun with the bigger toy:)
    industrialpoppy said...
    hilarious! Personally I like the Victor torch.
    Good luck!
    katrinbird said...
    Yes, fine silver will bead up much better. Also, I hold the wire with pliers and point the flame at the bottom of the wire. That way the wire will bead up. It works!

    You won't get any toast though...
    beadsnbangles said...
    I like the Blazer torch, too, but the one you have should work. I have a different technique for headpins. I'll convo you through Etsy.
    Robin said...
    I am so greatful that you are doing this. I have thought about branching out into this. But, out of fear of, well, hurting myself, I have resisted. :)
    So, thank you for sharing this. I cant wait to see what happens next.
    Good luck.
    Yazmin said...
    Oh, so it sounds like the Benzo might work with fine silver, since it is quicker to melt. I may have to go buy one of these myself and see how it works with the fine silver I purchased LAST YEAR to do just this. lol :)
    The Beading Gem said...
    You are brave to try it. Me, I am too chicken.
    MarDi said...
    Just a few days before your post I had posted about my (happily successful) experience in making my first headpins. I also used fine silver to eliminate firescale, and it was just a few seconds in the flame to melt the silver. I found this tutorial to be extremely helpful: Ball Headpin Tutorial

    I used pliers but your toast makes for a much more entertaining post! :) Best of luck with your new torch!
    Contrariwise said...
    Thanks for the links. Those are great!

    2 tips I've recently gotten (but haven't tried yet:
    1. put the wire in the very end of the blue flame, it's hotter there
    2. to make more symmetrical ends, form the balls at the bottom, not the top, of the wire.

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