Update: I’ve re-vamped this post, replacing the photos with higher quality photos as part of my re-vamp series for 2015. Because of this, the seashell bracelet is no longer the focus. You can see photos of it here.
I made up this clasp structure myself a while ago, out of necessity. It’s really super easy to make, and it’s very useful for those pesky wide band cuff bracelets using seed beads which are hard to finish in a satisfying way. (My tutorial is really picture heavy, so for visual learners that may help.)
All you need are your side cutters, your round nose pliers, and your chain nose pliers. Also the bracelet you want the clasp for, and some wire. The wire I use is just base-metal and it will eventually wear down, but sterling and gold filled can be used. As long as you’re using half-hard 18ga wire, the kind of wire you use shouldn’t matter, but it is important that it be half-hard otherwise the tension which makes this clasp work won’t be there and you’ll be in danger of losing your bracelet.
First, take your clasp-less bracelet.
What you want to make at each end of it is, with whatever stitch you’re using (my bracelet is peyote, but really this’ll work with any stitch) is to make a loop about 6 wide (when working with 11/0 seed beads). If you’re working with other sizes, just try to keep in mind that the wire will have to go through your loop about three times, and it’s really helpful that it not be stuck in one position.
As you can see, my loop was more of a tube because the bracelet is so thick. I don’t think this particular type of clasp would work on anything less than 4 beads wide, but you can try it and decide for yourself if you like the look of this clasp for a thinner project. (Share if you do!)
You’ll need two pieces of wire, there you can see how they measure up to the bracelet. I tried to make them about 4 times the width of the bracelet. Generally it’s better to cut more wire than less wire, but it’s tricky in this instance because you can end up with a clasp that is too big, and have to do some hardcore re-sizing.
As you can see in the photo above, bend the wire, somewhere between a third and a quarter of the way down. Basically I make the bend and then squish it. This will eventually form the pronged part of your clasp.
Bend over the other side. You want to make sure that your wire ends are in a position to end up inside the tube of seed beads on your bracelet; this removes the problem of picky wire ends and also creates a nice seamless look.
Stick it through your loop/tube…
And create a notch about 1cm long(ish) at the end of each side. These become the prongs, and you now officially have half of your clasp done.
The other end is a bit trickier. You’re gonna create a loop, like you would any other loop, and make both ends of the wire touch. Like you did on the last wire, in about the same place, grab the wire with your round nose pliers and make a bend.
With one side of the wire, bend up to make a sharp distinction between your loop and the rest of the bend.
Then, bend the other way, to create a fully closed loop. Both ends of the wire should be parallel to each other and touching.
At this point you’ll want to thread your half- clasp through the loop on your beadwork. Center it so that the amount you want to be in your clasp is sticking out from the side. Based on this, you can estimate where you want the other loop on this half of the clasp to sit.
In order to make the last loop fit, you’ll have to pull back and forth a bit on the wire in the tube, but you should be able to get both ends of your wire nicely hidden in the tube at the end of the bracelet. Congratulations, the hardest part is over!
Finally, you’ll bend each loop up, to mirror the other side of the clasp, so now one side looks like this…
…and the other looks like this.
This is what the clasp looks like when closed.
Because of the stiffness of the wire, you basically pinch close to your tube on the side with the prongs gently and they will move out of the loops, without bending too far out of shape. (Not true if you pinch too hard, or attempt to force them by bending the wire. That just bends your clasp out of shape.)
Other bracelets of mine with this clasp include this shell bracelet, the tube bracelet from last month, and the sashiko project to name a few. I’ve been wearing bracelets with this clasp since the turquoise cuff I made waay back in November 2011, and it hasn’t fallen apart. Not secure enough for wild dancing or raves, but secure enough for every day use. (And please remember, most jewelry isn’t secure enough for dancing. If you want to wear jewelry dancing, check all your connections ahead of time and be mentally prepared for the anguish you will feel when you lose it anyway. I speak from experience.)
If you have questions, ask! If you have answers, answer! If you have comments, comment! You get the idea.