Friday, May 17, 2013

Cohesive Jewelry Design: Choosing the Right Clasp

 This bracelet looks cohesive because the clasp is part of the design.

One of the many things my college professor said over and over was to think about your entire design - whether it was jewelry or not.  The focus might be on the lid of a box, or the inside of a bowl, or the pendant on a necklace, but that's no reason to forget about the hinge, or the bottom of a bowl, or the clasp on a necklace.  Maybe your design calls for a basic hinge, or a smooth bottom of the bowl, or a simple clasp -

 This simple toggle clasp complements the rest of the bracelet design.

- but maybe that basic hinge would look better with some decorative cutouts or replaced with a more decorative hinge.  Maybe the bottom of the bowl has a surprise for the curious such as a saying or a carving.  Maybe the plain lobster claw clasp would better compliment the rest of the necklace design if it was larger and dressed up with beads, or if it was replaced with a themed/decorated toggle clasp, or if it was handmade from matching beads, wire, or other material.

This handmade clasp is simple, but ties in with the rest of the design well.

Think about your design and what would make it a truly cohesive piece.  A cohesive design will look complete and balanced - the clasp will compliment the rest of the piece instead of looking out of place.  If your design looks off or unfinished, try a different clasp.  You might be surprised at how often a different clasp makes a big difference to the overall design! 

This clasp was chosen first, as the focal point, with the rest of the design following.

I'm not saying that every necklace needs a big, bold, and/or colorful clasp.  Sometimes a simple chain and clasp is all that is needed.  A hidden clasp can add a bit of mystery.  Some designs can be clasp free, and some clasps demand a prominent place in the front and center!

One type of "hidden" clasp - I used snaps behind the pendant.

So before you grab one of your go-to clasps for your current project, take a moment and really look at your design.  Will this clasp compliment and complete your design (make a cohesive whole)?  Or will your finished piece look off-balance or like it's missing something?  It's worth it for yourself and your work to take the time to finish your piece right - even if that means setting it aside for awhile until the designs resolves itself!  Honestly, I do this quite often!  Even if I've sketched up my design beforehand, sometimes as I'm nearing the end of a project, I realize my plan isn't going to give me a balanced, cohesive design. 

Complementary handmade clasp - ties in with the overall design.

Of course, I didn't always take my professor's advice!  Many of my older designs have whatever clasp I had on hand.  I tell myself it was because I was fresh out of college and didn't have a lot of money to spend on nice clasps (but that wasn't true - I kept buying beads and tools!), but the truth was I didn't see the point in thinking about the clasp. 

Same necklace with a poor clasp choice (left) and a more polished clasp (right).

Here's an old necklace design of mine (above, left) that I still really like wearing, but I wanted it to look more complete, finished, professionally made.  So I revamped the clasp from a basic barrel clasp to cones ending in a toggle clasp (above, right).  Not a huge difference, perhaps, but I would have been a little embarrassed if someone had asked if I had made it before the change.....while now I'd happily say, "Yes!".

Close-up of the old clasp (bottom) and new clasp (top).

A complementary clasp doesn't have to be expensive or showy (though it can be!).  And you can always make your own - go ahead and try it.  There are many free tutorials out there for making your own clasp - beaded, wire wrapped, hammered sheet, ribbon, leather - so many options!  (If you don't know where to start, try The Beading Gem.)

Happy Creating!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no spam! If you would like a quick reply, contact me through my listed email address. Thanks for visiting! SSS