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Clasps Everywhere
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Clasps are the Holy Grail of chainmaking and can make or break a piece. While it is easy and cheap to get machine-made clasps, it's uninspiring and unoriginal. One huge drawback to using such parts is that it's illegal to call the finished piece handmade. Most say it's handmade anyway, but that's a felony for another day.

All clasp types can be handmade for the most part...given enough time. It's impractical to make a box or lobster clasp for a $10 bracelet as the cost of doing so would make it a $200 bracelet. For higher-end pieces, handmade clasps become a necessity since commercial one are wholly undeserving.

A good clasp is not an afterthought but an integral, flowing part of the artistry. Every design of mine is carefully thought out before the first attempt. It's all about bending and manipulating the metal just the right way.

 
A good clasp is not an afterthought but an integral, flowing part of the artistry.
 
Typical DIY clasps are the hook-and-eye/S-hook and toggle, which only go so far as artsy as they may be. No moving parts mean they should endure for the life of the jewelry. I shudder at the bevy of loose-fitting and ill-conceived clasps that rely on little more than luck to stay hitched. Nothing is worse than discovering that prized piece went AWOL.

It has proven incredibly challenging given the constraints of working with my favorite metal, 0.999 fine silver. Nothing can be soldered or welded as the metal would be too soft unless it's work-hardened afterwards, which ain't happening. That means rivets, interference fits, slotted connections, mechanical welding, one-piece construction, etc. It must be somewhat easy to manufacture and 100% reproducible in excruciating detail.

What's involved in making a clasp? On average, 15-20 iterations before it moves to manufacturing. My triggerless clasp is a simple concept in principle yet obscenely time-consuming to develop (stopped counting at 40 hours but it was a lot more). I made roughly 50 springs and 17 completed pieces plus many failed versions on multiple jigs before finalizing the process in theory.

It's worth it because only handmade jewelry allows such extravagance and customizing, a visual masterpiece whose twin is difficult to find. Besides, there is no glory and certainly little skill required to assemble something from a pile of pre-made jump rings and findings as opposed to actually creating it. There's a difference between an artist and paint-by-numbers!

I won't replace any clasp I make with a commercial one. What happens after you get it is your prerogative. I will include one for an additional fee but my pieces start handmade and will be shipped that way.


Posted by M: July 8, 2020


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