During my Christmas show I was reminded that not everyone knows what a “headpin”, or “head pin”, is. No, it’s not something that you stick into your hair (or head), nor is it meant to be stuck into a hat. In this post I will show you what you can do with headpins, specifically my lampwork headpins.

So let’s start off with the definition of a headpin: it’s basically a metal wire with something on one end to stop a bead from sliding off the wire. It is used to attach the bead(s) to a piece of jewellery. The “something on the end” could be a loop in the wire, or a ball formed by melting the end of the wire, or something more elaborate. Here is a “borrowed” photo of a ball headpin.

A ball headpin

A headpin is just one of many “findings” that are used by jewellery makers. Finding is a general term for the bits and pieces that are used in making jewellery—clasps, ear wires, etc.

Normally, one or more beads are threaded onto the headpin. The headpin is then finished in such a way that the beads are secure and can be attached to the work. I make my lampwork headpins by melting and forming the glass directly onto the end of a piece of wire. I don’t normally add any other beads onto the wire (though you can), but simply “wire-wrap” it and attach it to the piece that I am making. Wire-wrapping the end means that I make a loop in the wire, and then wrap the wire around itself.

Okay, a few photos should hopefully make this clearer…

Hana Gusari necklace

I am making a chain maille necklace in copper for a custom order. This is the first version of the necklace. The weave is called Hana Gusari. As you can see there are a series of triangles that are connected together.

Hana Gusari chain maille necklace in copper

At the end of each triangle I am going to attach one of these headpins. I made each ball by twisting opaque green glass with transparent clear glass; the “twistie” has then been melted onto the end of a length of copper wire and formed into a small ball.

Lampwork headpins

Lampwork headpin

This is what the headpins look like after they have been wire-wrapped.

Wire wrapped lampwork headpin

And this is after the excess wire has been snipped off and tidied up.

Finished wire wrapped lampwork headpins

Here is the final version of the necklace. The headpins have been attached, and I have removed the unused triangles.

Hana Gusari copper necklace

Completed necklace

The clasp is also handmade (by me!) and is based on a design by Delia Stone, who makes truly wonderful wire-wrapped jewellery.

Handmade clasp

What else can you do with my lampwork headpins?

As I have shown I don’t do anything elaborate with my headpins, but there are other possibilities. One idea, suggested by a client, is to form the wire of the headpin into an earwire to make a simple and easy earring.

And, here is a photo of a sea glass pendant made by one of my favourite clients, Surfside Sea Glass. Here you see that several sea glass beads have been strung above the lampwork teardrop and then finished in a wire-wrap.

Sea glass pendant

Sea glass pendant

So I hope that this post has answered the question, “What the heck is a headpin?” If you have any more questions or suggestions then please post a comment or send me an email.


Ann Wright · February 10, 2012 at 17:24

Jennie – What a beautiful piece of work! I love your postings!

jennie · February 11, 2012 at 15:14

Thank you Ann! And thank you for the encouragement; I really need it sometimes :-)

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