Studio Notes: Carl Clasmeyer on Creating His Unique Clasps

Clasping the Creative Side

When it comes to bracelets and necklaces, clasps are the saintly mothers holding everything together. But because they need to function and be reliable, most of them are Plain Janes. Clasps by Carl Clasmeyer are wildly different. Think of sterling silver elephants twining their trunks; a hand grasping a purse; a snorkel hooking into a scuba mask; and the cat playing with a ball clasp, as seen above. He’s even got a sunken treasure chest that, when unlatched, opens to reveal an octopus.

ClaspsAt a bead show in Milwaukee I spot his “booth” — a simple table and banner accessorized with streams of shoppers. Weeks later, we do an interview via email.

Clasmeyer tells me he is essentially a self-taught jewelry artist. After he started selling his work, he did take one class at a junior college to pick up the finer points of soldering. He’s also been mentored by master jewelers. “I’ve always been blessed with 3D capabilities ever since I was a kid, building my own toys, miniature catapults, oil derricks, winches and cranes, flying model planes, rockets, mini-bikes, etc… all with no plans or kits,” he says.

“I had been making many clasps on custom pieces,” he says. “Then a friend suggested I start making them for a clasp-starved market 20 years ago. The focus to create a clasp mechanism, though, took my skills of visualization to new levels.”

He says his most innovative and popular is his Turtle/Frog clasp. At $68, it is the third he made for production.

What makes the clasp unique is its movement. A spring-actuated leg on the frog “locks inside the turtle’s body cavity,” he says. “Then the turtle’s tail functions as the final safety lock. When put together, the feet of the frog are disguised as the turtle’s feet.

“It took months of research just to find a supplier of a spring small enough to work and then I had to back-track, to scale the frog-then-turtle all to fit the mini-spring, starting with the frog, then building up from there.

“If this IS something that can be taught, I don’t know from where. The compression spring is only 1.6 mm in diameter.”

A Santa Fe resident, Clasmeyer also is an illustrator, painter, mold maker, poet, metal worker, goldsmith, gemstone cutter, and bead maker. Check his website to see his Turtle/Frog clasp.


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. Her story on Colorado diamonds appears in the September-October issue and she will be writing about her experience in Kate Wolf’s class in 2018 along with her grant writing adventures as a silversmith. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.