Making Dynamic Jewelry that Changes on a Whim with Michelle Mach

Have you seen Unexpected Findings, Michelle Mach's hot new jewelry-making book? It provides dozens of ways to repurpose findings and components from your jewelry-making stash in truly clever, inventive new ways. Findings become features instead of utilitarian elements in the designs by Michelle and several other talented jewelry designers. Read on for Michelle's thoughts on the versatility of a humble spring-ring clasp.

by Michelle Mach

In Praise of the Spring-Ring Clasp

If you dislike the lowly spring-ring clasp, you're not alone. It has a reputation for being cheap, because you can find lots of spring-ring clasps on inexpensive big-box store jewelry. Plated versions of the clasp sell by the gross for about 4 cents each. But there are upscale versions, too, at the fine jewelry stores found in every mall. A single sturdy 14K gold spring-ring clasp could cost you $84! Clearly, perceived cheapness is not the only reason this clasp has a bum rap among some jewelry designers.

  spring ring clasp, lobster clasp

Its very abundance might be part of the problem. A spring-ring clasp feels too ordinary for handcrafted jewelry. If you've spent hours crafting a special pendant from glass, stone, or metal clay, etching metal beads, or hand-forging links of chain, why slap on a clasp that didn't require the same attention?

I understand that logic, but at the same time, I must confess a special fondness for the spring-ring clasp for certain jewelry designs. Long before I discovered jewelry making, I loved toys such as the Fashion Plates drawing set with its interchangeable plastic plates depicting skirts and sweaters. You combined them however you liked before placing paper on top of the plates and rubbing them with pencils to reveal your latest outfit. Everything could be changed in a few seconds on a whim.

Michelle Mach's Silver Lining necklace  
Michelle Mach's Silver Lining necklace

How does this childhood passion relate to jewelry? In my mind, a spring-ring clasp is just another toy in the toy box. That is, I rarely use a spring-ring clasp (or a lobster clasp) as an actual clasp.

A Quick Game of Spot the Spring-Ring (or Lobster) Clasp

While writing Unexpected Findings, my head almost exploded with all the presto-chango possibilities presented by spring-ring and lobster clasps: pendants with detachable dangles, necklaces that turn into bracelets when disassembled, multistrand necklaces with one or more removable strands. . . . Here are just two examples:

In my "Silver Lining" project, the spring-ring clasps are hidden among a bevy of similarly-sized silver jump rings. Each umbrella dangle created with a handmade bead cap is attached with a spring-ring clasp. You can easily switch out different colored umbrellas to match your outfit. You can also control the number and placement of the umbrellas.

  Michelle Mach's Key West necklace
Michelle Mach's Key West necklace

In my "Key West" necklace, tiny lobster clasps attach the bold pendant made with a bracelet bangle hoop. For a completely different look, remove the pendant, attach a short piece of chain between the two lobster clasps, and rotate the necklace so the bright yellow-and-orange wooden strands are now in the front.

Beyond the Spring-Ring Clasp

Maybe spring-ring clasps still aren't your thing. That's okay. What about all the other clasps in your collection? Think about S-clasps, hook-and-eye clasps, toggle clasps, snap clasps, tube clasps, magnetic clasps, and box clasps. How could you use them in a unique way? For out-of-the-box ideas for all these types of clasps, plus fun twists on ordinary findings such as eye pins and jump rings, check out my new book Unexpected Findings.

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