I made my first handmade headpins a couple of days ago and this is what they looked like when they were finished.
I used a torch to ball the wire after dipping it in solder flux. I was surprised how easy it melts. Not all balls turn out perfect and centered but for the most part I think it's not that hard to get a good result.
Since I didn't have a pickle solution I immersed the pins in silver dip to get the flux and some of the tarnish out. It seemed to work pretty well. I had read lots of comments from people saying not to use silver dip to clean jewelry because it pickles the silver so it seemed the logical thing to do to use it as a pickle substitute.
Normally I would put the pins in the tumbler to clean the rest of the oxide but since I used half-hard wire I didn't wanto to harden it any furthers in the tumbler. And I didn't make too many pins this time so it was easy to polish them with some steel wool.
The second picture shows the pins before cleaning, still dark and bendy. This was before the steel wool but after the silver dip.
I've made a second batch since and they turned out just as well.
My only problem seems to be remembering the pins are hot after removing the flame. I know it seems really stupid but it's such an instinctive reaction to just grab the pin to release it from the tweezers. I only actually did it a couple of times but I found myself almost grabbing the hot pins quite a few more before stopping myself in time. I guess I was so focused on the result that I didn't really think about anything else. There was no permanent harm done, though.