Saturday, July 12, 2008

Studio Saturday Heat Wave

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

This week's winner is AJ! Congratulations, AJ! You're the winner of a Humblebeads faux bois bead! Please send your postal address to the ABS Suggestion Box and Heather at Humblebeads will send your faux bois bead!

Today's Studio Tour is with Lynn Davis. Let's see what's going on in the LLYYNN studio....

Hi, welcome, it's hot in the studio and not just because of the summer weather! I've been playing with various forms of heat this week, using the butane torch to heat things up to the melting point and the kiln has been firing a lot lately, as some fresh materials and old favorites are coming together in new ways.

I was fortunate recently to take a one-day workshop with Kate McKinnon using silver metal clay to create structural clasps and components. It got me back into using the silver metal clay after several years away from it, and made me want to combine it with the glass beads I've been working on recently.

The main inspiration and idea is to take the simple closure, the clasp that usually hides behind the neck, very necessary but unremarkable, and find ways to make it the central focal piece of the jewelry design. To use glass or silver to make a closure that is meant to be seen first, an integral part of the design. Functional but very visible and an important part of the finished jewelry piece.

Here is a sample of a new clasp design, the silver metal clay circle with fused fine silver links, and the double swan heads forming the hook for the clasp.

All of the components in the clasp are pure fine silver (.999) and yet work hardened to take the handling a jewelry closure has to stand up against and continue to hold tight!

Kate McKinnon provided a lot of information about how to strengthen the silver metal clay using firing techniques and silversmithing methods to make it structurally sound for the hardworking pieces like toggle bars, clasps and chain. Not just for decoration, because closures and clasps take a lot of wear and tear and need to be strong enough to hold up for a lifetime.

Here's a fused glass word bead, combined with a fine silver toggle bar to be used as the closure to the design as well as a focal bead.

The fine silver (.999) pure toggle fits through the hole in the fused glass bead, making it both a decoration and the functional clasp in the necklace. Fittingly, the word fused into the glass bead is 'I-N-S-P-I-R-E' and I hope it inspires a beautiful jewelry design.

These round metal clay circles can be a clasp, part of a chain or just ornamental. They have potential to be used in one design for all three functions, if that works best! Having a lot of fun with the silver and the glass and using them together.

So I'm turning on the studio fans, trying to keep cool while I'm turning up the heat in the kiln, to make chains, headpins, clasps and toggles out of silver and glass in the mid-summer heat.

That leads me to today's question, how would you make a clasp the centerpiece of your design instead of hidden in the back of the jewelry, behind the wearer's neck and out of sight? Do you feature your closures as part of your design, making them yourself using beading techniques? One random comment will win a pair of silver metal clay circle links!


Donna said...

I make a matching bracelet and necklace and use the same clasp on both. Then the decorative clasp can be used to connect them together to make a longer necklace with the two beautiful clasps showing in the front.

Carlene said...

I love making the clasp the focal point, especially if I can dangle something from it, or add to it. Off set is also another favorite way to use them, using something with weight to match the other side. Clasps are fun! The more unusual, the better!
Your pieces are great!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Anonymous said...

I once used an artist-made toggle clasp at the front of a necklace. I used fine chain to attach a bead dangle to the toggle circle. The weight of the dangle kept the clasp at the front of the necklace.


Cindy Gimbrone said...


Thanks for the look into you HOT studio! Artist made toggles are a beautiful addition to any necklace design and look best in the front. The plain spring rings or screw clasps usually are pushed to the back rather than in the front. They don't add to the design like a designer clasp does.

Hope the fans keep you cool!

Melissa J. Lee said...

Hi Lynn,

Ooh, these all came out beautifully! I like really chunky clasps, so I'll make an off-center circle like one of yours and then add a heavy matching bar. I'll add a small hole on one side (the designated bottom of the clasp) and wire wrap a focal bead or pendant and then let the whole thing dangle at the front. I think it's a nice look! I also like decorative buttons closed with a lobster claw clasp to hang on the side of a necklace. Yay for metal clay!

AJ said...

Yay, I won :D Thank you, ABS editors and random chance ;)

I'm pretty traditional about clasps, I tend to put them in the back. But I still like to use pretty ones! My favorite for my woven pieces is to use a button, either vintage, modern, or artist-made. It's fun to match the button to the project! If it fits the style of the piece, I might also do a little fringe at the clasp. I find that looks very elegant with short hair, or hair that's worn up. I also like to dress simple toggles up with a few dangled crystals on a wrapped loop.

EmandaJ said...

Love your toggles!

I make Anglican style Rosary Bracelets with a toggle closure. I dangle the cross and first large bead from the toggle circle. It works as a closure when worn and as an integral part of the rosary when used.


Andi said...

I love using artisan toggles in asymmetrical designs. It's a great way to offset the weight of a heavy focal that is oriented with the hole vertically rather than horizontally.

glshowlin said...

I believed that any piece of jewelry I make deserves to have a lovely clasp. I really love a big clasp with some weight to it to use in the front and it really depends on the design and materials as to what I make it out of (or buy it) I do alot of seedbeading and I've had tons of fun beading the clasps, there are just so many things you can do. I just scored some free sheet copper from my Dad, I'm doodlin' designs.....

Anonymous said...

I love using big or bold clasps so it can stand out and become the focal point.

Lorelei Eurto said...

I love using handmade toggles at the side of a necklace. That placement sets it off just as well as if it was hanging as the pendant in front and center.

Unknown said...

I do a lot of work with seed beads. It's always fun to use a large bead with lots of fringe as a clasp. A functional clasp that looks like a pendant.

Thanks for doing the drawing, I'd love to design something with your circles!

Unknown said...

Lovely work.
Whenever I have an especially pretty closure I make sure it is used near the beads and worn with it showing. Thus you have plain chain or cord at the neck (much more comfortable.