Ode to the Head Pin: Wire Jewelry's Humble Component Gets Decorative

Second only to my beloved pearls, I spent the most time and money in Tucson buying . . . head pins.

Head pins? Whoa girl, why not go crazy and get some jump rings while you're at it, right?

My dotted Sylvie Beads glass head pins, floral glass head pin from Grace Beads, and Jennifer Fahnestock enamel head pins.

If you're down South like me, you might be thinking, "Bless her heart." Getting excited over head pins? It sounds boring and certainly not what you'd expect to be snatching up in the midst of all the gem, bead, and other jewelry-making awesomeness that is Tucson in early February. But before you go feeling sorry for me, for buying such simple components–albeit important and hard-working little wire components–just look at how cute they are!

Beadalon's ball/star head pins.

As my friend Vernelle would say, I got the "fancy" kind of head pins. I got enameled flower head pins from Jennifer Fahnestock, tiny silver ball-and-star (they look like flowers to me) head pins from Beadalon, adorable lampwork glass polka-dotted head pins (with nice extra-long wires) from Sylvie Lansdowne's Sylvie Beads, and a lampwork glass flower head pin from Grace Beads. I almost forgot that I made some lampwork glass bead-topped "head pins" when I had lampworking lessons with Marcy Lamberson! They're much larger, so they could be a wired focal piece more than an added decoration like these smaller head pins, but the idea is still the same.

Earrings from Nunn Designs' Adorned Life collection with pearl beads dangling on crystal head pins.

Decorative Head Pin Swap Out
Much like that extra little oomph that earrings can get from special handmade ear wires, wire jewelry projects can benefit from the use of a decorative head pin where a regular balled or flat head pin might've been before. I recently came across a quick and easy way to replace a regular wire head pin with a decorative head pin to give a project a little something extra on my friend Becky Nunn's site, Nunn Designs. In project samples of Nunn Designs' Adorned Life collection, a line of limited-edition Old World-style jewelry-making components, I discovered an earring design that was made all the more special by using a crystal-topped head pin where a regular head pin would have been.

I have some similar crystal head pins in my stash but I've never gotten around to using them, because I've always tried to place them in a jewelry design so that the crystal faced front. It never occurred to me that they'd be just as cute hanging on the bottom of a pretty bead or a pearl, like in Nunn's design.


Decorative Head Pins in Starring Roles
I bought my fancy head pins with the intention of working them into simple wire-wrapped flower rings, but then I saw the project from Nunn Designs and started thinking of them as head pins again. Then I discovered another great example of a head pin (a balled wire head pin, in this case) taking on a starring role in wire jewelry when the Feb/March 2012 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry arrived recently. Linda Larsen's Captured Objects necklace on the cover features a wire cage focal pendant built by clever use of handmade balled wire head pins. You can make your own balled head pins like Linda does (she shows you how in the project tutorial, naturally), use purchased balled head pins, or add some zing by using decorative head pins. You could even add a little color by using some lampwork glass-tipped head pins or enameled ones like mine.

For more great wire jewelry components–plus dozens of awesome wire jewelry projects to make with them–subscribe to Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. With wire jewelry projects for beginners to pros, using wirework techniques such as chain maille, wire wrapping, coiling, and more, it's the place to go for all your wire jewelry inspiration.

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