To create the Brass Plate Swirls & Crystals Pin you will need:
- 18 or 20 gauge wire in any color you want to use
- Strip of brass metal .016 or .018 thickness works best
- Flat back crystals
- jewelry glue
- crystal glue
- texturing hammer
- Round needle nose pliers or jewelry multi-tool
- Button or other unique item
Step 1: Making the Swirls
First, you need to make the swirls. This is fun and easy to do. Cut various lengths of the wire in any color you desire. For this project, I used brown, but there are many colors to choose from. It is best to use the permanently colored wire so you do not have to worry about it becoming discolored over time.
You also need to be careful if you are using any tools to bend the wire as they may mark up the wire. It is best to use round nose pliers as the pliers should not mark the wire. I use a jewelry multi-tool (in picture) which has the round end of the pliers, but also cuts wire. Both work well to make the swirls. Wrap both ends of the wire as much or as little as you like. Then press flat with fingers. Wire is very workable with just your hands so this will not take a lot of effort. Do 5 or 6 pieces so you have enough to choose from when ready to place on brass plate.
Step 2: Brass Plate Prep
A variety of metal sheets can be found at hobby stores or online. For the brass plate you will need to cut the strip to the desired length for the pin. I usually keep it between 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in length. Use a towel to clean off the strip once cut. You will notice the edges are rough. You will need to sand off the rough edges to make the piece safe to wear and handle. I use a cordless Dremel tool sander attachment to round the edges so there are no sharp points on the plate.
Once that is finished you can start to texture the plate. I use a texturing hammer with changeable heads. You can decide which texture you want to use. I selected a checkered texture. Hammer the plate until the desire pattern is reached. You may also want to use more than one texture on the plate for a different look.
NOTE: I have a hard composite top to my workbench so I can hammer as hard as I want and it will not damage the surface of my workbench. If you do not have a hard surface on your work area, be careful not to damage your counter top or wooden table when texturing this plate. You may want to find a steel bench block to use.
Texturing the other side of the plate is optional. I flipped the plate over and textured the other side as well using the same texturing head. You do not have to texture both sides.
Step 3: Finishing Brass Plate
When finished texturing the brass plate you will need to polish the plate. Through sanding and texturing the plate gets dirty and dull. So polishing will take off the dirt and brighten up the metal. Again, I used the Dremel tool polish and polishing tool, but you can also use other brass polish and rag to polish the plate.
Put the tip on the Dremel tool and cover the tool in the polish. Make sure the secure the plate in a vice or other device which will secure the plate while you polish - you do not want it to move. Make sure to cover the entire side with polish. It will appear dull and even change the color of the metal a little, but do not worry as it will not effect the metal permanently. If you textured both sides of the plate, you must polish both sides of the plate. I usually polish the entire piece anyway so the whole plate is nice, clean and shiny.
Once the plate is polished. Use a piece of cloth or paper towel to rub off the polish. This may take some time and elbow grease, but it is worth it. If you did both sides of the plate you will notice each side looks completely different when finished. Now you will have to choose which side will be the finished side and which will be the pin side. If you only did one side you are ready to move the next step.
Step 4: Adding Swirls, Crystals...
Now that the plate is ready you can begin adding the elements to create the pin.
First add the swirls to the plate. It is your pin so placement is up to you. Put jewelry glue which drys clear on the swirl and then place on plate. Be careful using jewelry glue as it is really sticky and can get everywhere quickly. I used my fingers to place the swirls but you may want to use tweezers or pliers. I usually placed the dots of glue on the base of the swirl where the is the most wire to give a secure hold to the plate. Once the swirls have touched the plate you cannot re-position them because the glue is now on the plate and it is difficult to remove.
When finished placing the swirls, it is time to add the flat back crystals. For the crystals you can use jewelry glue or glue specifically made for the crystals as both work well to adhere the crystals to the plate. To place the crystals you will need to use tweezers or, if using specific glue for crystals, the rubber tip on the glue tube. Place a small dot of glue on the plate where you want to place the crystal. Using tweezers, pick up the crystal piece with the top up, flat side down, and gently place on the dot of glue and gently press down. If using crystal glue tube, use the rubber tip to pick up the crystal by pressing down on the top of the crystal. It will press into the rubber and you can lift it up and place it on the drop of glue. The glue will hold the crystal freeing it from the rubber tip. I prefer to use the crystal glue tube rubber tip, rather than tweezers, each has pros and cons to using them so you will have to decide for yourself. Use as many or as few crystals as you like and you can use any color(s) you want. Crystals also vary in size so you can vary that as well. For this pin I used Blue Zircon and Crystal Dorado Swarovski flat back crystals size 16ss and 20ss.
I also added a button to this pin, just to add some character. I added the white button using the jewelry glue and then placed one crystal in the center. All elements are in place and the design is finished. Now the glue has to set.
Step 5: Let It Dry
So now that all the elements are on the plate the glue has to dry before anything else can be done. Male sure to place the plate on a flat surface where it will not be disturbed. Check the piece after letting it set for 24 hours. It will most likely still be tacky and you want it to be completely set, so let it set for another 24 hours before moving to the next step in the process.
Step 6: Adding the Pin
The final step in the process is to add the pin to the back of the plate. Pins come in all sizes. Make sure to use a size which will support the pin. Since this pin is solid, I selected a larger size pin so it will provide equal support from the top to the bottom of the pin and not cause the pin to droop or bunch the material when pinned to a coat or shirt.
You will also need to decide which direction to place the pin. Opening up or down? I placed this pin opening at the top of the pin. As a wearer of pins, I want to be able to see the pin lock in place so I know the pin is closed and will not come off. If the pin opening is down, you can sometimes have an issue seeing the pin closure. However, most pin closures are placed to open at the bottom. This, of course, is personal choice so you can decide which way to place the pin.
Using the jewelry glue, add spots of glue along the solid back of the pin. Then gently place in the middle of the back of the pin. Make sure pin stays in place while drying to ensure it is centered on the plate for the finished product. Again, check on the set of the glue at the end of 24 hours, but it will most likely take 48 hours to completely set.
Step 7: Finished
Once the glue has completely dried and set, the pin is ready to wear. Enjoy!