I got a little time to myself Saturday night so broke out the new wire I got from Rio Grande.  I am a HUGE Parawire fan, but it has a coating to keep it from tarnishing, which burns off when you put it near the flame.  My right/left brain is not in agreement.  The analytical side doesn't like that they are not perfectly shaped (and of course wants to be able to perfectly recreate shapes with zero practice) and the creative side likes the randomness and how the double wire ones came out.  

Here are the questions for lamp workers:
What kind/gauge wire do you use for headpins?  These are made with 20 gauge copper.
How do you clean the wire once they come out of the kiln?  I used a little bit of scouring powder - is this what a tumbler would do for me?

Here are some swirls - I liked the happy accident I made the other day so was trying to do it again.  These are close - but getting pretty big - thimble sized.  I am also 99% sure that the clear glass that I bought is a different COE than the colors I have.  Beginners mistake :-) 


  1. Pretty beads!
    I usually use copper or fine silver wire to make lampworked headpins. 20 gauge is the one i use the most, but depending on the project, i have used 18 and 16 gauge for some. if you use fine silver wire there is nothing to clean, but on the copper a polish pad will get off the fire scale.

  2. Beautiful work, my friend!

    I think what Dawn meant to say is Sterling, not Fine, silver wire. Fine silver wire melts in the flame. (the silver stripes and dots that you see on the surface of beads are made with Fine Silver wire)

    I also use 20 gauge for headpins. :)

  3. WOW! Love them. Wish I could help you and answer your questions..............

  4. Hi Elisabeth,

    Great job, I really like the shape of the green pair.
    I made head pins on 19 and 20 gauge steel this week, I will pick up later this week and let you know how they came out.

  5. Here are my suggestions as I make glass headpins frequently...
    What kind/gauge wire do you use for headpins? 22gauge dark annealed steel. This is great because it's already black and doesn't ash in the kiln like copper. It is also more stiff and easier to wrap glass on the wire. Once you are done making the headpins and wrapping them into jewelry they do need to be coated in Clear Guard sealer and you can also use renaissance wax on top of that once they are sealed. I usually only use 2 coats of clear guard, but those that do patinated metals use both.

    How do you clean the wire once they come out of the kiln? Ha ha. With my nails. I get some of the ash off and leave them as is for a "distressed look". I have also used some of "The works" toilet bowl cleaner. That does make them brighter, but also kind of etches the metal.

    I used a little bit of scouring powder - is this what a tumbler would do for me? I think so. I don't have a tumbler, so I don't know for sure.

    I hope that helps :) xo Genea

  6. My two cents for what it's worth because I'm still a newbie lampworker. I use 18 to 22 gauge copper (uncoated) for my headpins. After annealling I pickle them then toss them in the tumbler with steel shot. The pickle removes the fire scale, my pickle is simply white vinegar and salt. The tumbler polishes them, a brass brush or green scrubby can be used but takes more time. All bright and shiny without scrubbing, plus for my own peace of mind I feel that if they made it in the tumbler they should wear well.


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