Find us on the A-List Fusion Beads Fusion Beads

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGE

In our last installment of Clasp Crash Course we discussed the versatility of toggle clasps. Today we are going to talk about a very standard, well-known type of clasp called a lobster claw. The lobster claw clasp’s name is derived from its unique shape. Yep, you guessed it, it is named after its likeness to a real lobster claw!claspIt is opened with a trigger on the side. When the trigger is released a spring-loaded mechanism causes the clasp to shut thus securely latching it onto a reciprocal jump ring or chain just like a real lobster claw grabs and clutches its prey. Awesome.

This sturdy, durable and nearly indestructible clasp will never open or release on accident. For this reason, it is the work-horse of the beading industry and is suitable for any necklace or bracelet, especially heavier pieces that require extra secure closures. The other advantage of using a lobster claw is its smooth svelte shape which makes it the least obtrusive clasp you can use on your neck. It will not itch, pinch skin or snag delicate fabrics. It is invaluable for its dual attributes of simplicity and functionality.

Lobster claw clasps also come in various different sizes, styles and shapes. One of the most popular shaped lobster claw clasp is the heart which is perfect for a Mother’s Day bracelet, Valentine piece or even a little girl’s bracelet.heart-claspSome other styles can be quite useful and can solve some common jewelry design dilemmas. Have you ever had a necklace or an anklet that refused to lay straight? Use a swivel lobster claw clasp! These clasps have a separate lower section that rotates independently from the rest of the claw. They are specifically designed to twist, move and adapt as you wear them. The swivel clasp’s flexibility and range of motion makes it an ideal choice for heavy chains or charm bracelets. When a chain becomes tightly wound from twisting it can become strained. It may kink, or even worse, snap under the pressure. A swivel lobster claw clasp alleviates this pressure and can help prevent your jewelry from becoming a tangled mess. Hooray!swivel-claspA lobster claw clasp’s functionality is its most obvious attribute but keep in mind a wisely-chosen lobster claw clasp can also contribute greatly to the aesthetic success of your piece!  Using a chunky or oversized clasp can add to the piece’s visual impact. A bold design calls for an equally bold closure! Having fun with size can elevate your piece from ordinary to extraordinary with just one simple change. You can see this effective use of size on our fun and chunky Let’s Dance Inspiration Project shown below.lets-danceLobster Claw Clasps are a brilliant choice for any design. Their strength, practicality and solid construction are guaranteed to never let you down!

Happy Tuesday – Rebecca

Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGE

Crash Course in Clasps- Part 1: Toggles

Today I’m going to talk about the versatility of different types of clasps. In the first installment we will focus on everyone’s favorite, the toggle clasp. Toggles are sturdy and reliable clasps. They are beautifully simple, easy to use and will ensure a secure closure for most pieces.

What is the best application for a toggle? Toggles are a fantastic choice for necklaces so we will be focusing mainly on this usage. Though you can use a toggle on a bracelet it is a risky proposition. Toggles can jostle free on your wrist causing it to detach and fall off.

We all like something to look good when wearing a piece of jewelry. Looks are an important part of design but functionality is paramount! It is important to pick a toggle that can handle the weight of your necklace. If you are stringing light or delicate items, a small toggle will work beautifully. My favorite “go to” is the simple but classic round toggle clasp with ball ends included below.Precious Metal Round Toggle Clasp with Ball EndsFor chunky pieces with heavy beads or gemstones use a large toggle to help carry the weight of your piece. Look for a toggle in the 18-25mm size range for a nice, solid connection.

Once you figure out the right size range for your toggle it is time to think about design elements. You can select a sleek no-frills toggle and just to keep it simple. Or, you can further augment your design by using a fancy toggle with a texture, an interesting shape or unique design to add a little pizzazz to your piece. For example, using a shape like the leaf toggle included below can elevate the design of your necklace to something more special and dressy. You can also use this special shape to communicate a theme. Perhaps your necklace is inspired by the colors of fall. Using this leaf toggle strengthens the visual connection to that idea.22.5x15mm Sterling Silver Leaf Toggle Clasp?resizeid=9&resizeh=1000&resizew=1000We briefly touched on a toggle’s functionality and how a toggle’s design, shape and texture can add visual value to an overall design. Now let’s look at some creative ways to use toggles. A toggle can be a delightfully unexpected focal piece for a necklace! Simply place a toggle in the front of your necklace instead of a bail. Attach a pendant to rev up the impact of your focal piece. Not only will the pendant tie the piece altogether visually it will also act a counter weight to keep that toggle straight and fastened shut. Our Inspiration project the Owl or Nothing Necklace is a great example of using a toggle as a focal piece.Owl or Nothing NecklaceYou can use toggles as other findings as well. The round end of a toggle can be a great component to use as a connector or as a central point for a lariat.  You can even hang a round toggle ring down a charm and create a darling little earring with it. Toggles are like the little black dress in your wardrobe, versatile, useful and a wonderful staple in any jewelry design.

Happy Tuesday – Rebecca

Rebecca

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGE

One of the biggest trends in jewelry right now is the layered look; stacked bracelets, stacked rings, and of course, wearing multiple necklaces at once. You can use today’s tips to help you decide how to get the fun layered look with multiple necklace designs this summer.

I wanted to try and grab some necklace designs I already had and see which ones may look good layered. I didn’t want the look to be too heavy so I picked more delicate pieces that make a statement when layered with others. In my opinion, mixing solid metallics with other colorful designs is a good place to start. The solid gold necklace from the Delicate set was a great shorter length to start with, and since it had no other colors to compete with, it would be easier to find designs to compliment it. After I had that one picked out I knew I wanted another gold necklace, this time with pops of color. The Just Enough design was perfect! It sits right below the first necklace on the neckline (when it’s at its shortest length on the adjustable closure). These two created a fun boho chic look, but I still wanted a little more length. I thought it would be fun to add another solid gold design and the Golden Arrow necklace ended up being a perfect fit!

delicate necklaceDelicate NecklaceJust enough 2Just Enough Necklacegolden arrow 2Golden Arrow Necklace

Once I played with the lengths I was able to get the look I wanted. I love each of these designs alone, and even more so when they are layered together! If your necklaces don’t have an adjustable closure, and you are having trouble getting the different lengths to lay properly, you can always use a tiny safety pin or paper clip to temporarily keep your necklace the length you need it. If your clasp fits through the chain links in your necklace design you can also simply connect the clasp to the chain.

Multi-layered-necklace

Do you like to layer your necklace designs? Share with us in the comments below.

Happy Tuesday – Allie

Allie

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

7.16-TIPS-AND-TRICKS-BANNER-IMAGEWhen learning metal stamping it can take many, many tries to figure out how hard to hit a stamp and how to angle the hammer to get the best impressions. There are many things that go into getting those letter stamps perfectly aligned, or getting a certain design to be in just the right spot. You can use today’s tips to help you master the art of metal stamping.

Before you jump right in, it’s always a good idea to practice stamping on less expensive, copper, nickel, or brass sheet metal until you’re comfortable enough to move to something more expensive, like sterling silver.

A problem a lot of people have when first starting out is getting their stamp to make a deep, even impression. To make sure your lettering and designs will be as straight as possible, use Stamp Straight Tape™ by ImpressArt. While also holding your stamping blank in place, the straight line of the tape acts as the perfect marker for you to add your letters in a straight line and your designs right where they need to be.
Step-2

Step-6If you don’t have a very steady hand and are struggling with keeping the letter stamps in place, you can use the Simple Strike Jig. This tool will help you make sure the stamp is flush with the surface you are stamping it on and will protect your fingers when striking the stamp with the hammer.

stamp

Simple Strike Jig by ImpressArt

 

Once you have your designs, letters or words in place, use Stamp Enamel to make the stamped area pop! I love seeing how bold and clear the designs and/or letters are after this step. Step-8

Step-9Do you have any other helpful metal stamping tips or tricks that you use? Share with us in the comments below.

Happy Tuesday – Allie

Allie

 

 

 


Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210Choosing colors is often the first step of starting a new project. Some of us have a signature color palette we prefer to work in, or a designer may have a particular person in mind if they’re making a commission or gift. On those occasions when you want to break out of your usual designs or have a bead hanging around in a unique color, try turning to a color wheel.color wheelColor wheels have been in use since the early 1700s and are now most frequently used by artists and designers as a guide for paint or other product selection. Most wheels start with the very basic primary colors of blue, red and yellow and then are divided up into the secondary colors of green, orange and violet, and every shade in between! You can use a color wheel to find two types of colors that work well together, harmonizing colors and complementary colors. Colors that harmonize are found near one another on the color wheel like aqua and blue. Complementary or contrasting colors, like purple and yellow, are found opposite each other on the color wheel.

I used the color wheel we have at FusionBeads.com to help me decide on these complimentary  round Czech glass beads for my next colorful bracelet design.T&T2Swarovski also has a wonderful color wheel tool online called the Color Carousel. With one click and drag of your mouse, you can choose one of Swarovski’s signature colors and find out not only that shade’s harmonizing color, but also its complementary color. Swarovski’s color palette is so large that while their color wheel is perfect for selecting Swarovski products, it can be used to develop a color palette for any project!

Have you used a color wheel for your designs before? Share with us in the comments below.

Happy Tuesday! – Allie

Allie

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

tuesdaytipsandtricks-520x210

You may not always think to use closed jump rings in your projects, but these great little findings are perfect for the other side of a clasp for lobster claw clasps, spring rings, hooks, etc. They’re also fabulous for finishing off bead weaving projects. There’s no risk of a thread slipping through the opening and having a project disaster! Below are some of our trendy jewelry designs that show closed jump rings being used as a connector or other end to a clasp. Southern Lady Bracelet

Southern Lady Bracelet
Into the Woods Earrings

Into the Woods EarringsWalk on the Beach Necklace

Walk on the Beach NecklaceSpiralize Bracelet

Spiralize Bracelet

Have you used closed jump rings in your own jewelry designs? Share with us in the comments below!

Happy Tuesday! – Allie

Allie