I decided that it was about time that I wrote another tutorial or two myself. It's fun linking to other people's tutorials and I like finding yet more ideas to add to my ever-growing 'must-do' list, but it's fun to write my own too. So, you've had tutorials on eye loops, wrapped loops, coils and ear wires, so this week it's the turn of clasps.
I love to make clasps that compliment the rest of the piece of jewellery that I've made, and they are much much easier to make than you may think. I'm starting with a simple hammered clasp to compliment a necklace that I'm making as an example for my Hammered Chains workshop next month.
You will need:
- 1.2mm sterling silver wire, or a thickness that compliment the rest of your design. The thinnest wire I use for clasps is 0.8mm (20 gauge)
- easy solder & flux & soldering equipment - safety pickle & pot, tweezers, quench pot, fire brick, goggles - these are optional
- round nosed pliers
- wire cutters
- hammer to texture your wire
- needle files
- emery paper
Use your round nosed pliers to turn a loop at the end of your length of wire. I prefer to work from the reel of wire most of the time, especially when I'm making a particular size of clasp for the first time and I'm not certain exactly how much wire I'm going to need.
Decide approximately how long and wide you want your clasp to be. Hold the wire with the round nosed pliers at the extreme of the length you wish your clasp to be and turn a U shaped bend. The further down towards the handles of your pliers you place the wire when you make the bend, the wider the clasp will be.
Cut the wire level with the loop you formed at the start.
Use the round nosed pliers to 'flick out' the last 5mm-1cm of your U shaped bend. This gives your work a more professional finish and also makes the clasp easier to use - easier to fasten but far less likely to come undone by accident.
Use your finger and thumb to manipulate the sides of your clasp so that they meet....
And use the round nosed pliers to manipulate the shape of the clasp too if you wish.
This is the optional part ... soldering the starting loop closed can help to strengthen clasps made of thinner wire than I've used here. Place a small piece of easy solder onto the join of the loop and gently heat the silver to melt the solder and close the join. Quench, pickle and rinse the clasp.
And this is the fun part! Hammer your clasp to give it the texture you want and also to strengthen it. You will probably have to push the clasp back into a closed shape after hammering as hammering will encourage the wire shape to spread out.
File and sand the end of your clasp to remove any sharp edges
And finally ... attach the clasp to your piece of jewellery and enjoy!
Once you've made a couple of clasps you should become more confident in changing the basic shape to better suit the piece of jewellery you're making it for. Perhaps try turning the U shape around a pen barrel of piece of doweling instead to get a wider shape.