How to Attach Metal Clasps to Beadwork

Attaching Metal Clasps to Beadwork

Between working more than a full-time job, slinging hash several times a day for the family, and geez, just simple personal hygiene, I have a hard time keeping up with what’s going on in the outside world. I usually get to the newspaper a day late and don’t think I’ve watched television for months. So it’s no wonder why I don’t know who Jon and Kate are and why they’re breaking up.

I’m usually pretty good at keeping up on what’s going on in the beading world, though, so I was a bit embarrassed to realize I didn’t know who Rachel Nelson-Smith was until I was asked to edit her new book, Seed Bead Fusion. Since then I’ve discovered that Rachel has been teaching for several years, is published extensively, and has displayed her work at galleries and museums across the country. She’s incredibly talented—a master at manipulating seed beads into sculptural shapes. This book really shows off her talents. It’s not too often I gush about a book, but the projects in this one are definitely jaw-dropping. And it’s the first seed bead book I’ve worked on that includes not only words and illustrations to help you learn, but hundreds of photos as well. The projects are fun, very contemporary, and most are deceivingly straightforward to make.

French (wire) Connection
One thing that struck me while editing was how Rachel transitions from needle-and-thread beadwork to metal clasps. She does it many different ways, like incorporating liquid silver beads into her beadwork to create a connection point. Brilliant. I’ve come across this challenge in my beadwork, too, especially because I like to use metal clasps for their durability and ease. Problem is, the thread that connects them to the beadwork can easily fray and break.

There are several different options to strengthen the beadwork-to-metal clap connection, but I use French wire (aka bullion or gimp) time and again. It’s fairly inexpensive, strong, can be cut with kitchen scissors, and the wire (which is actually a very fine coil) comes in a few different thicknesses.

Here’s how I do it:

1. Weave through the beads on your piece to exit the point at which you want the clasp to go. Double your thread if you can.

2. Cut a 3/8" (9mm) to 1/2" (12mm) segment of French wire. Use the needle and thread to string the segment and the clasp half.

3. Pass through the beadwork close to where you last exited.

4. Pull tight, forming a loop in the French wire. There’s no need to pass through the wire again—the connection should be strong enough. Plus, once you turn it into a loop, it’s just about impossible to make another clean pass-through without distorting the coil.

How do you connect metal clasps to your beadwork? Any special findings or techniques? Who ARE Jon and Kate and why are they breaking up? Please share your ideas on the website

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