Pearl and Butterfly Collage Pin on Piano Key

How to make a pearl and butterfly pin.

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Project by Christine Simpson from Chicago.

Looking back, Christine is sure glad she took a metalsmithing class in college. After graduation, she was gainfully employed as a graphic designer, but making jewelry designs on the side is what truly makes her happy. Christine is constantly thinking of ways to improve her designs. Through experimentation, she discovered that old piano keys make the perfect canvas for her drawings, like scrimshaws. She also developed a cocoon-like wire basket design using a simple sewing technique. These and other innovative techniques combine to make her "Eye Fly Bye" pin truly unique, eye-catching and mysterious.

Materials and Tools:

20-gauge sterling silver sheet
26-gauge silver wire
16-gauge square wire
bezel wire
freshwater pearls
antique piano keys
23KT gold leaf
text from a 1940s French almanac or other book
butterfly wing
silver solder
oil paint
small screws and nuts
pin back
jeweler's saw
jeweler's #2 saw blade
jeweler's wax saw blade
jeweler's file
solder pick
solder table
copper tongs
glass container
plastic container with lid
soldering gas tanks with regulators
easy, medium, and hard solder sheet
craft knife
buffing machine
muslin buffing wheel
Zam buffing compound
liver of sulfur
Scotchbrite buffing wheel
Scotchbrite pad
crock pot with pickling solution
flex shaft
drill bits
charcoal block
"third hand"
safety mask
safety glasses
small wrench
bezel pusher


1. Draw pin design on paper. Transfer drawing to silver metal. Draw on a piano key with a pencil; then scratch the pencil marks with a scribe. Wipe surface with black oil paint to fill in the groove from the scribe. Let scrimshaw dry for two days.

2. Use a jeweler’s saw frame with #2 blade to saw transferred design on metal.

3. Drill a small hole to pierce the metal sheet. Push saw blade into hole and fasten blade to jeweler’s saw frame. Then saw shape of design in open area of metal.

4. Use a jeweler’s saw frame with wax blade to saw acrylic. Make sure to wear a mask. File acrylic and sand acrylic.

5. Polish acrylic using a buffing machine, muslin wheel and Zam buffing compound.

6. Measure bezel wire to fit snuggly around the polished acrylic pieces. File edges of bezel wire.

7. Place bezel wires for the acrylic wings (one at a time) in "third hand" and brush seam with flux. Cut hard solder sheet like a comb; then cut across to cut tiny squares. Place solder on charcoal. Heat solder on charcoal; then transfer solder with a pick to bezel wire held by a third hand.

8. Put in warm pickle pot for 15 minutes; then rinse with water and dry. Repeat for second bezel wire.

9. Using a hammer, plannish wire to create texture; then curl antennae with flat-nose pliers.

10. Flux metal to keep it clean while soldering. Use medium solder on second soldering. Solder antennae on back of the body of the pin; then flip piece over and solder bezel wire. Put in warm pickle pot for 15 minutes; then rinse with water and dry.

11. Flux metal to keep it clean while soldering. Solder pin back with easy solder for third soldering. Put in warm pickle pot for 15 minutes; then rinse with water and dry.

12. Drill holes around opening at bottom of pin. Cut 4 to 5 feet of 26-gauge silver wire. Sew opening in a crisscross fashion, placing pearls inside opening as you go. Secure pearls by sewing the wire into the holes.

13. Oxidize sterling silver pin with liver of sulfur. Brush edges with a Scotchbrite pad to brighten edges.

14. Use an old French book, newspaper or other source to collect the letters "eyeflybye". Cut out the letters with a craft knife.

15. Find a butterfly wing. Place 23KT gold leaf in the center of both bezels; then create collage by placing the cut letters and butterfly wing on top.

16. Place acrylic wings on top of collage; then use a bezel pusher to set the wings in place.

17. Drill holes into the four corners of the piano key. Place piano key on top of pin to mark where holes need to be drilled into metal. Drill holes in metal; then use a small wrench to fasten piano key with four small screws and nuts. File back of screw. Use a small amount of super-strong adhesive to keep nut on screw.


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