Friday, May 25, 2012

Glass on Stainless Steel Wire

You could call them headpins - but - um - big much?

 Uh, yeah - everything I make is super-sized.

Ok - the point is not the glass-tipped tiny headpins, I was thinking more of making things on the ends of wire and twisting them into bunches. Bugs, flowers, birds, etc. Anyway - what I wanted to find out was, could I use the new Stainless Steel Wire from Artistic wire in the flame and melt glass onto it.

Was it, in fact, real stainless steel?

First up, I emailed Artistic Wire and asked them if it was really stainless steel, or was that just the name of the colour. I got a response within hours, and they confirmed that their Stainless Steel wire is, in fact, Stainless Steel. (Also, their Brass is brass, and everything else has a copper core.) I also know, from previous experience, that most of their products have a thin nylon coating to prevent tarnishing - but I didn't ask about that.

I just cut some lengths and started working in the flame.

No noxious fumes or ghastly odors, so we seem to be good on the no-coating front.

Next lesson learned was that  the skinny, and not completely straight wires are tough to hold, and just about impossible to rotate in the hand. I wound up winding the glass around the wire, instead of holding the rod in one place and rotating the wire.You know, exactly what will get you into oodles of trouble if you try to make beads that way.

I then figured out that I could hold the wires in my rod grabber, and that was more comfortable. The wires still weren't straight - so rotating was now possible, but pointless.

But wrapping the glass around the wire works fine.

How to:

  1. Cut your lengths of wire
  2. Put a piece of wire into the rod holder if you have one
  3. Heat the end of the wire to a light glow (you can melt through the wire, just like a skinny mandrel, if you work at it, but light heating is fine.)
  4. Make a gather
  5. Touch the gather down on the wire, in from the end of the wire
  6. Wind the glass around the wire, wrapping around until you run out of glass or it goes stiff. 
  7. Heat the glass on the wire to smooth
  8. Repeat until you have a reasonable size that you like, and have worked your way over to the end of the wire
  9. Build some glass out on the end - covering the end of the wire and building up a cap
  10. Roll in a frit if you like, and melt in
  11. I heated these and pointed the far end of the wire at the ceiling to let the glass droop into a nice droplet. 
  12. Put the finished "headpin" into the kiln. I put on gloves, reach into the kiln with the wire still in the rod grabber, and let it go onto the floor of the kiln. (Edit. I now grab the wire with a pair of tweezers and use the tweezers to transfer to the kiln.)
  13. Repeat
They are fun, easy, and forgiving. You can mash the glass with some of your fancy mashers. Hey - how about using some of those brass presses that you have hanging around?

So, the verdict is, "Yes - it is real stainless steel and you can use it in the flame." Kewel. 



  1. There is a way of controlling thin wire so you can rotate it in your hands: get hold of a piece of brass tubing with a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the wire. I would go for a 1.2 mm for the wire you have. (it could also be a steel tubing or maybe even carbon fiber wire from a model building supplier)
    make a few slight bends in your steelwire, so it is ever so slightly zig-zaggy, and stick it into your tubing, so only the work area is sticking out. The zig-zagging is holding it in place, but it is still easy to insert/remove.
    Do your piece and pull it out, then straighten the wire and eventually polish.
    Happy beading!

  2. You could also try using a pin vise. I used it for making head pins on nichrome wire and it worked great. Straighten the wire first by running it through your hands repeatedly (wear gloves!).

  3. Anonymous10:08 a.m.

    slightly stretch the st st with something like a came stretcher and vise grips, or a table vise and vise grips.