Gold filled wire
by Joan Pienaar
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
I've just started working with gold filled wire. I want to make ball head pins. The wire balled but the copper shows through.
Can anybody tell me how to do this so I have gold shiny balls at the end of the pins?
Gold-filled wire has an actual layer of karat gold, not just a microscopic film like gold-plated material. Gold-filled, or gold overlay, is made by heat and pressure-bonding a thin layer of karat gold to a brass (or other base metal) core. With care, you can solder it. However, when you raise the metal up to its liquidous state as in melting/balling the ends to create head pins, you loose that gold overlay, exposing the brass core which is now a ball at the end of your wire. The extreme heat can also cause the layer of gold close to the balled section to be burned off the brass .
The pink you're seeing is probably copper oxides after pickling which is what brass does. Soak the head pins in a super pickle solution of 3 parts white vinegar and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to remove the copper oxides and restore the yellow color. This will not restore the gold layer! Place the pins in a tumbler with stainless steel shot, water and a squirt of dish soap to help harden them slightly and polish them up. The super pickle will damage metal is left in it too long... 15 minutes or so tops! Watch the pins and remove then rinse as soon as they're yellow again.
The gold layer on gold-filled wire is tarnish resistant. With an exposed brass area now on your head pins, they will tarnish over time. You might wish to purchase finished gold-filled head pins or create head pins that use only cold metal techniques like small eye-pins, spiraled, etc. so the gold layer remains intact.
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