How to Use Clasps and Toggles
One of the most frequently asked questions our designers get is "how do I know which clasp to use?". It's a good question and one that we would imagine many beaders struggle with. When you are first starting out, it is especially difficult to know and understand the size of the clasp in relation to the dimensions of your design. Also, there is the question of which clasp will be easiest to handle on a bracelet that you may have to put on and take off yourself... And if you want your newest necklace design to be adjustable in length, you will have to use a different type of clasp than you would if you wanted a necklace that could possibly be worn as a single long strand or doubled over. Sound confusing? Too many options? Hopefully, we can help you with some of these difficult design decisions you may be faced with so ending your piece is a bit less stressful.
- Using toggles in your jewelry designs: Toggles are probably the most used type of clasp out there. Our design team definitely loves them! There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, toggle clasps offer secure closures. They have a ring portion and a bar portion; the bar is always longer than the ring, so once it is slipped through the ring, it is securely in place. The funny thing about this, though, is that despite their security, they are also easy to put on and to take off by yourself. If you have ever had the misfortune of not being able to put on a bracelet (or getting trapped in one because it won't come off), the toggle will be your new best friend. Another reason people love toggles is because they add beauty and dimension to a design. Some toggles have a round ring, others have a square ring and still others have heart shaped rings. This variety in design adds interest and depth to your beaded jewelry designs. For this reason, toggles are especially beautiful when used with bracelets where they will be most visible. (Design tip: Use a split ring or jump ring to dangle a charm from the ring portion of your toggle to add an extra splash of fun to a beaded bracelet.) Also, when you have a particularly beautiful or bold toggle, you can make it the centerpiece - or off-center focal point - of a beaded bracelet or necklace design. It is always interesting to have the most purposeful part of your design also be the most beautiful.
- Using lobster clasps in your design: Lobster clasps - and trigger clasps - have a spring mechanism inside that, when activated, will open the lever that controls the clasp. These clasps require one hand (really just one thumb) to open and close, making putting on your jewelry a breeze. Lobster and trigger clasps are the absolute best type of clasp to use when you want to make a necklace that is adjustable in length. Simply attach your clasp to one end of your beading wire or chain design and then attach a 3 inch extender chain to the other. The person wearing the necklace then has a length that adjusts up to 3 inches, so she can wear it an any length she desires. (For this reason, lobster clasps are great for any kind of chain jewelry in general.) Another fun thing to do with lobster clasps is to use them as a closure for beaded necklaces that you want to layer. While you can slip a 36 inch necklace over your head without having to use a clasp, the use of a lobster or trigger clasp allows you to have the added option of making this necklace one that can be wrapped. Instead of simply having a 36 inch necklace, you now have a necklace that can be doubled up and worn as what would appear to be two 18 inch necklaces. Fun, huh?
- Using multi-stranded clasps in your design: Multi-stranded clasps make designing bracelets and necklaces with more than one strand of beads easier than ever. From 2-stranded to 5-stranded clasps, from slide lock to toggles, you can choose just the style and look you want to accomodate multiple strands of beads. For larger beads or bigger chain, choose a clasp that is larger and possibly one that has a color coordinated cabochon. For designs using seed beads, it is best to choose a smaller multi-strand clasp, such as a slide lock. It is not necessary to use spacer bars when you use a multi-strand clasp, but they do help keep your work straight and neat. Our design team recommends using spacer bars with multi-strand clasps when you are creating a structured piece or using medium to large beads in your design. Otherwise, it is perfectly okay to bead directly onto your clasp and not worry about the exact placement of beads or chain - just make sure the lengths of each strand are even. Also, when you are using a multi-strand clasp, it can be fun to mix up the order of the strands. For example, if you are using a 4-strand clasp, attach your first strand at loop 1 on the first side, then at loop 3 on the other side; attach the second strand to loop 2 on the first side, then at loop 1 on the other side and so on. This will give your piece a fun, twisted look.
- Using buttons as clasps in your designs: Some buttons have shanks, others have 2 holes in the center. Buttons with shanks are great for projects like the leather wrap bracelet, where tying a knot and concealing it is of the utmost importance. 2-hole buttons are great for creating closures in woven bead designs. But did you know that you can also use buttons as closures in your beaded pieces? To do this, you will string your button toward one end of your beaded piece, making sure it is strung loosely enough to move slightly. On the other end, you will create a loop that will fit fairly snugly over your button. In learning to use a button this way, you will have learned how to create your own really fun and unique closure for your jewelry projects! A couple more things worth noting about choosing a clasp... Whether you are making a necklace or bracelet design, it is very important that you keep size in mind. Your clasp should always be about the size of the beads you are using. You would not, for example, choose to use a 24mm clasp with 10mm beads because your clasp would overshadow the beads, which should be the highlight of the finished piece. Also, make sure the color of the clasp complements the color of the beads you are using. If you are using black and silver beads in your latest bracelet project, for example, you may not want to use a copper clasp. If you want to incorporate copper into the design, use copper beads AND a copper clasp so the look is coherent and cohesive.
Always keep in mind that in mind that, although your clasp is often not seen (as is often the case with necklaces), its size and finish is VERY important. Not using the proper type of closure or choosing a clasp or toggle that does not go with the overall feel of the design can make or break the look of your piece.
Be sure to check out some of the awesome beads and components we offer to go with your favorite clasps and toggles. Usually, you pick the beads first and then decide on a clasp, but sometimes the clasp itself can be the inspiration for a great design. You never know where your next source of inspiration may be!
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