I am sorry that it has been a while since my last blog post. I have been very busy making jewelry and filling orders, which for me is a good thing since this is my job. Not to long ago a lovely customer of mine asked if I could add a clasp to a bracelet she purchased from me. On occasion the bracelet would open and she was afraid of loosing it. I think I would be more upset than her if she lost the bracelet. I strive very hard in my work to make my jewelry beautiful but also functional. I want my creations to last a life time. I was worried that one of my designs was simply not functional to wear.
This is the bracelet that needed the clasp. I have made and sold other bracelets similar to this design and there were never any problems. So, why was this one opening?? I take pride in my work and customer service, therefore I was more than happy to add a clasp for the customer. Mostly, I wanted to take on this challenge to see if I could solve the problem. Maybe I needed to add the clasp to this design on future pieces? Also, this was a big learning experience for me so I thought I would share some pointers I picked up along the way.
My first concern was removing the turquoise stone without damaging it. I recently purchased a GRS ball vice and decided to put it to work. Using Jet Set to protect and hold the bracelet in the vice I slowly opened up the bezel with a pointed burnisher. Having both hands free makes things a lot easier. Also, in case you are not familiar with Jet Set, it comes in granular form, you heat it up with warm water to make a mold that holds your jewelry piece in the vice. It will harden after you mold it around your jewelry, therefore also protecting it. You heat the Jet Set up again in warm water to remove your jewelry piece from the mold. Another tip is you can put some masking tape over the stone to protect it while pushing open the bezel.
Once the stone was out I sanded down the bezel. I initially wanted to save the bezel, however in order to remove the stone I had to make two notches in the bezel on each pointy end of the setting. The customer wanted the bezel exactly how it was originally, so it had to go.
I absolutely love using the stainless steel sewing pins to help hold things in place while soldering. You can find them at any well supplied craft or sewing store. I used them to hold the new bezel in place while soldering. You can push them into to your soldering block so they can really hold your piece so it wont move.
They are quite handy. I also use them to solder on ring shanks. I bend the pin at a 90 degree angle and stick the pointy end into the soldering block to hold the ring band steady while I solder.
Another handy way to use the pin is for holding the little catch in place as I solder it on to the end of the wire. It also serves as a heat sink so the little catch does not melt. I use these catches when I make sterling silver hoops.
Now back to the bracelet. I decided to go with a figure eight clasp. After I soldered on the bezel, I also soldered on a small tube to the underside of the stone setting. Then I threaded some silver wire through the tube and soldered a small silver granule to both ends of the wire.
I also soldered a small granule to the inside of the bracelet and pinched the wire around the granule. This way it snaps over the granule and holds the bracelet closed. I thought, a clasp on the outside of the bracelet would ruin the design therefore I put the clasp on the inside of the bracelet. The bracelet is worn a little loose so it is easy to slip a finger inside the bracelet to push the clasp over the granule or pop it open.
Once the clasp was finished, and the bracelet was polished it was time to set the stone again. I used my GRS vise and Jet Set again to set the stone. It helps give support under the stone setting while I push the bezel over the stone.
I was quite please how this came out in the end, and very happy that I was able to over come another metalsmith challenge. I hope this tutorial and tips described here can help you in your metalsmith journey.
Until next time...........