Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shawl Pins

It's hot here, I've been a slug. A little spinning in the mornings, then a lot of sitting in front of the cooler, sometimes knitting, sometimes dreaming of snow and ice. I hope by now everyone has seen An Inconvenient Truth. Frankly if this is the shape of things to come, I going to build a pool (hand me the shovel).

So, while knitting away, (on Kerry Blue shawl, in red, no pictures because just now it's a big red blob), I've been thinking of shawl pins. I like, and have used, the one I made for Fir Cone shawl (see this post), but this new shawl needs (interesting choice of word there) a new shawl pin (is the end result of all of this a pin for every shawl? yikes, oh, for the simple life: one shawl, one pin!). Anyway, thoughts turned to a spiral pin, and I began to plan.

I learned wire working from Celie Fago, in 1998. I would recommend her for any class ever, she's one of my idols. She teaches mostly polymer clay and PMC classes, which is reflected in her beautiful work.

I digress. In that first class, we learned to make jewelry components and findings. One of them was this necklace clasp:


This is small, about an inch across, and was the inspiration for the first shawl pin. But the attached spiral, which Celie calls a Macedonian Spiral (I don't know why) is also a favorite of mine. What would this look like by itself, as a pin? Here is my rough sketch:

shawl pin idea

and here is the prototype in 18 ga. copper:

copper shawl pin

I planished the whole pin (hammered) over my bracelet mandrel (a curved piece of steel: my next jewelry teacher used a baseball bat instead), so it has a gentle curve, for the stick pin to slide through. I wanted to call it 3 Spirals, but the stick pin makes a 4th. So 4 Spiral shawl pin, it is.

Here is the process for making the pin. First, cut an 18" length of wire (this is 18 ga. red brass. I recommend 16 ga. but I had 18 ga. for the first two experiments). Fold the wire into two unequal parts:

shawl pin start

I folded at 10", so one part was 8" and one part was 10" long. Then start bending the spiral, with the short leg on the outside:

shawl pin 1st step

You will end up with a spiral with two ends sticking out opposite each other. Bend these into their own little spirals, planish and make the stick pin. After making the first few prototypes, I decided to make the ends a bit firmer, by making them into a wrapped loop, instead of spirals:

2 shawl pins2

I added beads, at Cathy and Birdsong's suggestion. These were also planished on the bracelet mandrel, one is 18 ga. red brass, and the other is 16 ga. galvanized steel.

Then I decided to see what inspiration I could find for other shawl pins. I googled shawl pin , and came up with a list and found several sites on the first page to search. Many had what looked like hair clasps: geometric shapes, held by a stick or pin. But Joan McGowan-Michaels website had these which looked more like beaded kilt pins.

I have some pins like these on hand, from Fire Mountain Gems. They cost pennies (looks like it ranges from 25 cents to 40 cents a piece these days), and I'd bought a few packs for some other use long ago. Here they are:

kilt pins

The obvious first step would be to just add beads to the loops provided:

kilt pin1

I also tried using wire to wrap beads on the pin, but the wire got too brittle to squeeze through the little loops, so I just cut them off. Then I had to file the sharp bits. I used a Dremel, with a bit that I use often for filing wire:

dremel bit

It's so well used, I have worn a wire size groove into it! Then it was simple to wrap some beads on the pin with finer gauge wire:

kilt pin2

I looked closely at the pin itself, and decided I could just make one, then slip the beads on the back of it, like Joan's examples.

The first step: cut a length of wire, this time 16 ga. bright brass, 13" long. I folded 4" down:

kilt pin process

then wrapped and planished the folded end:

kilt pin process2

I bent 2" around a mandrel for the top of the pin:

kilt pin process3

(note the mandrel: a sharpie pen). Then I wrapped the other end:

kilt pin process 6

This still needs the pin part shortened, then planished and filed at the end. But wait: I forgot to slide the beads on the back (duh). Oops. So this one got beads wired on too:

shawl pin done

I made another, this time in 16 ga. copper, and made a smaller top (1 1/2" folded over, instead of 2"):

shawl pin process copper

This time I remembered to add the beads before making the spring turn:

shawl pin copper final

Wire working is simple, and requires very few tools: some pliers, a few mandrels (blocks of hardwood or steel plates) and some files. Any beginning class should get you enough skills to make all of these pins. If you are not interested in making them, lots of sites sell them: Joan's prices are very good, and there is as Etsy site with lots of cool wire and bead pins. Since I don't sell, I've given Yarngirl (Scotts Mountain Crafts Etsy shop) permission to reproduce these deigns for sale. If you have any questions, email me.

I made quite the collection in one day's experimenting:

shawl pin collection

Now I need to get busy and knit (stops to count) seven more shawls!


Blogger Dropstitchknitter said...

Thank you so much! I cannot express in words how much your generosity means to me.

8:07 AM  
Blogger judy said...

After our emails, I see this post. OMG, now I need to worry about shawl pins too. It's SO much easier hiding away at home. I love the first wrapped swirls that you beaded and the clasp. Lovely.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Deanna said...

7 shawls and a slew of shawl pins and you think you are a slug? Not by a long shot! A true slug, like me, sits around complaining that she's wilting (with a thick southern accent), drinking iced green tea and popsicles and doing nothing more strenuous than reading novels.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

Wow, what a great tutorial to get us inspired about wire work - and DH already has all the stuff I need lying around (except the beads, which I have). The heat has me dispirited, though, and this might wait till winter. I'm with Deanna on ways to deal with the heat, although I favor drinking mojitos over sweetened iced tea, the southern favorite.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

You SO have to watch out for Cathy's influence - it is bad, bad, bad. Are you sure you don't sell? Kinda looks like you are a "shawl pin pusher" to me. I woulda bought. ;)

4:17 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Well, I knew you were special but this puts you even higher on the list. I have been thinking about shawl pins/copper wire/beads since your first post and thought I need to ask you detailed questions. Thank you. If I have any more thoughts I am sure you will respond before I can formulate the question. (ignore Anne, I do...but you know that already)

9:19 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Your shawl pins are really pretty.

4:19 AM  
Blogger sheepshepherdess said...

Great tutorial. Found your blog a while ago. I took a class at your house MANY years ago it was a beading class. Must have been good technique, because I still have a amethyst peyote stitch thingy hanging in my car from way back then. Great site! wonderful silks. My loom calls my name and I have so many projects going + children.....

9:05 AM  
Blogger Charleen said...

Wow, Sara. That's a great tutorial. Thank you.

And I have baseball bats! In fact, I probably have a 10-12 in the garage. Can you just use 18 gauge copper from the hardware store for sampling? I probaby should get a smaller hammer ....

10:50 AM  
Blogger Leigh said...

Beautiful! Thank you so much for the tutorial too. Well done.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, thanks for your very kind comments on my blog. Thanks for visiting! I was going to tell you a while ago that I thought that this metalwork was just the coolest thing....very Celtic you know! Very well done!

1:15 PM  
Blogger Moi said...

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9:42 AM  
Blogger Lynn Landry-Rody said...

Fabulous shawl pins, eh Sara. Never thought to wear mine to the St. Catherine's conference. Have you been cooking up a project that involves silk/cashmere/camel & yak? Loving seeing the photo of you wearing your gorgeous Peacock Feather's Shawl. I kick myself for not piping up during your keynote address to let people know that you knit it! Sometimes i am just not on the ball, eh!

4:15 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Thank you for this tutorial. I may have to learn how to planish just so I can make myself one.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Marg said...

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1:37 PM  
Anonymous Indskill said...

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1:11 AM  
Anonymous Indskill said...

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12:28 PM  

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