Friday, October 23, 2009

Get a Grip!

Get a grip!!! That's what my friend's husband told her after she thought she peed on a poisonous snake in the woods. I've never heard such a decibel of a scream coming from the human mouth. It was like something out of a comedy.

Oh, right, this is a blog about metal clay (and sometime grandchildren.) Sorry!

Get a grip!! Don't lose that necklace or bracelet because the clasp failed. (Done that.... more than once.) More often than not I just reach for a ready made toggle, clasp or lobster claw to finish off a new piece. But I know that taking the time to make my own clasps will move my jewelry up a notch.

One of the projects in Level II Certification through PMC Connection is to make a clasp. Since sterling silver oxidizes in the kiln, we used fine silver wire as our connector. Now fine silver wire is softer than sterling. So, there are tricks to working with it to make a sturdy clasp. We first bent the wire into a loop at one end and heated the other end to create a ball. Then we hammered the wire flat to work harden it and bent the balled end to create a hook. To keep the wire from pulling out of the metal clay clasp, the wire is embedded into the middle of the clay and runs completely through the clay from end to end. I used my clasp to finish off another Level II project, a piece with a mirror finish. (My mirror finish is very tiny as metal clay can scratch easily. I just didn't see any reason to put all that effort into polishing something that might get scratched. This is sort of my philosophy on dusting too.)

One of my newest pieces, Lola's necklace II, was created from a mold I made from a pair of my Granddaughter's shoes. The shoe had three different patterns on the bottom that all suggested an underwater theme. (For some reason lately I've been on an underwater kick.) I had already made a necklace last year from the biggest shape and finally got around to using the other two designs. The mid-size design was used to create the pendant and the smallest shape made the clasp. I found some really neat purple coral looking beads (I don't know what the heck kind of beads they are) that work great with this design. I can see some younger person wearing a strapless sun dress in this. (Someone without a wrinkled neck and wrinkled cleavage.)

The original plan was to use the Hattie Sanderson magnetic set to create the clasp. Now I really don't think I'm stupid, but I found the directions difficult to follow. I think I had it figured out, but did too much sanding and now the magnets would be sticking out too far. The clasp would have a depth of about 3/4 inch. I think that is just a little too much. But it sure would have "gripped" well. Those little magnets that come with the kit are strong suckers. Every time I get into the drawer where I keep the kit, I have to pry them (and I do mean "pry") off my locking tweezers. I'm not sure that I could get the necklace off once I got it on if I used the magnets.

Instead, I made my own clasp with the fine silver wire. In class, I made both sides of the clasp. For the latest piece I made one clasp, took a ready made soldered jump ring, and beat the heck out of it to make it look handmade for the other side. Whatever works!

Tomorrow I'm teaching a class on toggles. I've already lost a couple of bracelets. One with a handmade toggle and one with a ready made toggle. I'll be stressing in the class to center the hole, roll extra thick and make the bar on the toggle more than two times the width of the hole.

We work too hard to lose our jewelry because we couldn't get a grip!

No comments: