Beading inspiration: Clasps

Posted by Kerrie Slade
on Thursday, June 12, 2014

I’m often asked what inspires me to create a certain piece and although inspiration can come from anywhere, there are several places I tend to turn when I am trying to come up with a new design. As I’m going to be writing a regular monthly post for the Bead Buzz Blog, I thought it might be interesting to explore some different sources of inspiration, starting this month with clasps. Sometimes a finished piece calls for a beaded clasp to create a seamless closure, other times nothing beats the sheer elegance of a length of organza ribbon to add the finishing touch, but I often like to work the other way around and design a piece around a clasp that catches my eye. I’ve recently been doing some work with www.agrainofsand.com and their wide range of unusual clasps has certainly got my creative juices flowing.

Take this football shaped clasp for example - I’m not really a huge fan of sports (although I do enjoy spending a sunny Sunday afternoon lounging on the village green idly watching a game of cricket!) and so when I first saw this clasp, I must admit, I glanced right over it. That was some weeks ago and since then World Cup fever has gradually been building and it’s now virtually impossible to look at a newspaper or the TV here in the UK without being hit in the eye with a football. I think that constant bombardment must have gradually worked on my subconscious and being a beader who tries to relate everything to beads, my mind kept returning to that clasp that I had not originally given a second thought. So then I felt inspired to create a simple strung bracelet pairing the clasp with some lovely red and white beads from Preciosa to create my team bracelet. Those striped seed beads come in a wide range of colours, so it’s easy to match some to your team – just look at those lovely shiny red white and blues in the photo!

In contrast, I was really taken by this next clasp the moment I laid eyes on it. A beautiful vintage floral brass button has been set into a sterling silver box clasp and when I first saw it I was part way through creating a series of 9 different coloured ‘Modern Antiques’ bracelets (free online pattern) and looking for a statement clasp to finish each one off. I thought the simple beauty of this one paired nicely with the soft sheen of the red antique-style beads, but instead of using a single colour seed bead as in the other 8 bracelets, I used both galvanized aluminum and galvanized starlight to echo the mixed metal look of the clasp and make it part of the design rather than just an add-on.

I believe these sterling silver Druzy clasps are brand new and although I have no immediate plans for them, I knew that I had to add them to my collection. With their shimmering surface of tiny crystal points they really suggest a star-sprinkled night sky and I wish I had discovered them a couple of years ago when I was working on my Midnight Garden collection.  One of these placed asymmetrically half way around the neck on my ‘Gateway to the Garden’ necklace would have looked like a celestial explosion and added just the right magical finishing touch. But wait! That’s another great thing about using a couple of jump rings and a readymade clasp to finish off your beaded necklace or bracelet – when that perfect clasp comes along, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you swapping it over and it may also give an old piece of work a new lease of life too!

I’m always butter in a bear’s paws when it comes to Swarovski crystal clasps and A Grain Of Sand has the best range of these that I’ve come across. Just look at the way this vermeil and amethyst clasp complements those amethyst flower cup beads in one of my Fanciful Flowercup braids

Of course if you broke it down, these clasps are just metal, foil and glass (the way the moon is just a lump of rock should you choose to view it that way) but if you let your imagination wander and you dive into the bottomless depths that these clasps offer, you can’t fail to be inspired by them. From the sunshine-in-a-clasp that is light topaz to the misty dreaminess of air blue opal, I think this style of clasp would lift even a basic spiral rope to new heights and I look forward to using a lot more of them in my work.

A really unusual clasp that caught my eye was this two strand West German turquoise confetti clasp. Although it is a very ‘busy’ clasp the colours in it really glow and I wanted to try and pick each of those colours out to enhance that effect. I decided to make another quick and easy strung bracelet and chose some 10 mm antique-style glass beads in teal to match the background of the clasp and then I added small silver beads together with topaz, amethyst and emerald fire-polished beads to draw out the jewel-like colours. This is such an easy bracelet to make and yet it is currently one of my favourites to wear and I wear it with the clasp sitting at the front of my wrist so that I can admire it as I work – that clasp is far too good to hide away at the back!

Another clasp that really spoke to me was this themed vintage cabochon clasp. It has the World’s Fair logo on it together with the year 1939 and the letters N.Y.W.F. (New York World’s Fair). I’d really like to do this clasp justice and make a special piece that somehow reflects the theme and era of the fair and so I’ve been reading all about the history of the fair and letting the ideas percolate. So far nothing I’ve come up with seems quite right, but I’m not stressing about that because for me, this is all part of the fun of design. I know that I have that clasp safely tucked away and that I can get it out and gaze at it, dream about the best way to display it, put it away and forget about it and one day it will whisper the answer to me.

I’m an avid collector of clasps and I’m always on the look out for something a little different that sparks my imagination. Whether you want to create a sport themed piece for a family member, match a bracelet to an outfit or create a whimsical story piece – a clasp can give you a starting point or bring everything together. I hope my ideas and photos give you some food for thought and if you have any ideas for ways to showcase that captivating World’s Fair clasp, please let me know!

Kerrie Slade is a beadwork designer living in Mansfield, England. She has been beading for more than 10 years and has had her work published in numerous books and magazines around the world. Kerrie has taught beadwork internationally and she now sells her patterns via her website.You can read more on her blog.

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