Monday, September 24, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Clasps...

Clasps are often the “forgotten design element” in a piece of jewelry, but I'm here today to change that thinking!  While clasps serve a vital function in jewelry, they are also an intrinsic part of a piece’s style, and shouldn’t be overlooked as far as design goes. So, I’m going to spend a little time talking about how clasps are much more than a mechanical device, about how beautiful they can be, and how selecting the right claps really “completes” a piece.

When we teach classes, one of our goals is to encourage students to consider the clasp as more than just a fastener; that it is an integral component in the overall design of the piece. Sometimes this means using a traditional, simple lobster claw that disappears into the design of the piece, sometimes the clasp should be a decorative component that flows effortlessly in to the design and style of the piece, and sometimes it means that the clasp serves as an eye-catching focal point that the entire piece is designed around!

When selecting a clasp, the main things to think about are the general style and scale of what you are trying to achieve: Are you designing a very delicate necklace? Is it a chunky bracelet loaded up with all sorts of colorful beads? Is it a finely detailed fabric of woven beads? These are just a few possible questions you may want to ask yourself; needless to say, just like the world of beads, the world of jewelry design is endless. These sample questions give you a starting point of what you’ll want to consider when selecting your clasp.

For example, if you’re creating a piece that is simple and sleek, such as a single bead pendant that is dropping off a thin chain, then a small, plain lobster claw is one of the best options for your clasp, because it will disappear into the background, and not overpower the rest of the piece.

However, if your piece is comprised of heavier, chunkier beads, then a decorative toggle clasp, box clasp, or s-hook would be a more suitable closure. In these instances, the clasp becomes part of the design itself, and flows seamlessly with the rest of the piece.

You wouldn’t want to use a simple lobster claw here, because that natural flow of your beadwork would be interrupted; something just wouldn’t seem “right”, visually. At the same time, while decorative, the clasp in this case does not command the front-and-center spotlight.

Yet another great design option is using buttons as your clasp. Buttons work beautifully as closures on anything from wide beadeweaving projects to the popular wrap bracelets, and just about anything in between!

Using buttons for clasps really opens up a wide world, because they come in so very many styles, ranging from simple and understated to extremely elaborate; there are artisan buttons, glass buttons, clay buttons, manufactured buttons, antique buttons...the list goes on and on! Having so many options available makes it very easy to match a button to your piece.

But, there are times when the clasp itself IS the “wow” point of the piece. These types of clasps are really exciting to work with, as they provide you with a fresh new perspective on design! When the clasp is the focal point, everything else included in the piece is selected accordingly. And, when you look at such a piece of jewelry, you really don’t even see the clasp; all you see is endlessly stunning beauty.

As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when choosing a clasp. Clasps must be sturdy, strong, reliable, and funtctiona - but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a gorgeous component of your piece as well! The options avialable for clasps are virtually endless, so be sure to put as much thought into the style of your clasp as you do in the rest of your piece, and you will be thrilled with the results!


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