How do you decide what clasp to use when you are designing a piece of jewelry? Do you think of it at the same time as the design? Is it an afterthought? Do you get to the end and think, "Now what am I going to do?" So really — to buy a clasp or to make a clasp — that is the question.
Luckily, I've got some answers. Sometimes it's difficult to finish off a design with a clasp worthy of being included in our beadwork. Many times I'll come up with a really good idea for a bracelet or necklace, and then I'll get stuck. With so many products on the market, a trip to the bead store usually yields a clasp that will do the trick. But what if it doesn't? When I'm looking to create a really well-thought-out piece of jewelry, the clasp cannot be an afterthought. In fact, sometimes it is a good place to start. One way to get the job done is to ask yourself, "How do I want this piece to end?" because really that's as important as getting started. So over the next three Ask Anna posts, I'll cover a few ways to tackle beaded clasps, starting with toggle clasps here, moving on to mastering the multistrand next month, and then "buttoning things up" later this summer.
Toggle clasps are a classic closure that consist of a ring and a bar. There are plenty of metal toggles out there, but when you want to make a beaded toggle, it's important to incorporate the beads and stitches used in the main design. If you are making a multistrand necklace, a beaded toggle can serve as both the clasp and a focal. Below is a toggle clasp made with peyote stitch. After you get the hang of the basics, start to modify this technique to work your own toggles. Then look to the next few posts to get more ideas on for clasp options.
Typically, peyote toggle rings start with a ring of beads, say 15/0 seed beads, centered on a length of thread. The first round is worked in tubular peyote stitch using those same size beads. Then, as you continue in circular peyote, you increase bead sizes in each subsequent round. This produces a donut-shaped ring, worked from the center hole to the outer edge. Mmmm...doughnuts. Anyway, this technique works well because you can determine the center hole size from the start. But you also need to take into consideration the size of the bar. If you make the center hole of the toggle ring too small, the bar won't fit through, or if the bar is too short or too long it will not work well either. The toggle ring can be attached directly to the main piece of jewelry, but the bar needs to be suspended away from the jewelry so that the bar can be maneuvered through the ring. On to the ring:
Peyote toggle ring
1. On 1 yd. (.9 m) of thread, center 36 15/0 seed beads. This number of beads will yield a ring with a center diameter of approximately 1/2 in. (1.3 cm). To make a larger ring, pick up more beads, but to make things easy on yourself, make sure to pick up an even number of beads that is divisible by four. (This is extremely helpful if you want to incorporate a pattern into your ring.) Sew through the first bead again to form the ring. You may find it helpful to put the ring over a pen or dowel as you work the first few rounds.
2. Work one round of tubular peyote stitch using 15/0s, and step up through the first 15/0 picked up in this round.
3. With the same thread, work two rounds using 11/0 cylinder beads (like Delica beads or Toho Treasures) off of the edge your thread is exiting. Step up through the first cylinder picked up in each round. Repeat this step with the other thread, but make sure to step up through the nearest up-bead 15/0 before picking up the first cylinder.
4. With one thread, work a round of 11/0 seed beads, and then repeat with the other thread.
5. With one thread, work a round of 11/0 seed beads, zip up the last two rounds, and end the threads.
Peyote toggle bar
1. On 18 in. (46 cm) of thread, pick up 20 or 21 11/0 cylinders, leaving a 6-in. (15 cm) tail. This number of 11/0 cylinders means the toggle bar will extend past the inside diameter of the toggle ring.
2. Working in even- or odd-count flat peyote (depending on whether you picked up an even or odd number of cylinders in step 1), work two rows with 11/0 seed beads, two rows with 11/0 cylinder beads, and two rows with 11/0 seed beads.
3. Zip up the end rows, and end the threads.
More ideas for a basic peyote toggle clasp:
• I used three different colors in the toggle ring above and two colors in the toggle bar, but you could use all one color, like a metallic finish, to unify the look or mimic a metallic clasp if desired.
• The bead sizes I used snug up nicely to create a small toggle clasp that would be a great size for most bracelet or necklace designs. To change the size of the toggle ring, pick up a different number of beads in the
initial ring of beads, remembering to adjust the number of beads picked up for the first rows of the toggle bar.
• If you want to embellish the ends of the toggle bar, omit a few beads from the initial number of beads picked up for the first rows, and then add a 3–4 mm accent bead to each end by sewing through the center of the completed tube, picking up an accent bead and a 15/0, skipping the 15/0, and sewing back through the accent bead and tube. Repeat to add an accent to the other end of the tube.
• To embellish the toggle ring, exit an 11/0 along the outer edge of the completed ring, and pick up an accent bead and a 15/0. Skip the 15/0, sew back through the accent bead, and then sew through the next 11/0 along the outer edge of the toggle ring. Repeat to complete the embellishment, leaving one 11/0 along the edge open for a place to attach the jewelry.
• Experiment with different colors to create patterns like short stripes running through the clasp in the opposite direction from the sample shown, or try spiral patterns.
• Bump up the starting size of the beads in the toggle ring to graduate up to an accent bead in the last round. For example, start with a ring of 11/0 seed beads, then switch to 10/0 cylinder beads, and use 8/0 seed beads for the last round along both edges. For the very last round before zipping up the edges, use 3 mm Czech glass or crystal pearls to create a fancy outer edge.
I hope you have lots of fun creating your own custom beaded toggle clasps, and please feel free to post a photo if you do! If you have an idea or question, post it as well, and look to my next post for more beaded clasps.