Like everyone else I sometimes have a hard time getting focused and getting going. Life happens and when your work is in your home, life interferes with work. I’m a great believer in my ability to multi-task, but sometimes it just leads to me bouncing around like a ping-pong ball getting a little done.
Metalsmithing requires focus and attention to details. A casual moment can undo hours of work as an over-heated piece falls apart (or melts!) under a too hot torch, a careless saw cuts a kerf into a carefully etched surface, a sanding disc is allowed to go too far.
When I get to this place I need to stop trying to do many things at once and refocus. As I retreat to my studio and sit at my bench more often then not, my thinking is still scattered and I have no idea where to start. Things seem either too easy and simple or too complex to work on until I get my brain working. What to do?
I recently decided that the best thing I can do at this point is to start making box clasps. Technically box clasps are fairly difficult, but I’ve done enough to be fluent in them. I know each step, how to do it, what order to do them in. Making them challenges my skills as a metalsmith, with the precision, cutting, soldering, measuring, filing; but I know what to do and have no questions as to sequencing, what temperature solder I need, what the pitfalls are. Making box clasps brings me back together and centers me on the here and now.
All the intricacy and detailed labor of the box clasp is hidden on the inside. My version of the clasp is actually a box within a box. I was taught to make a tight precise fit to insure years of trouble free wearing. It is more time-consuming but ultimately produces a clasp that will last indefinitely and never release unexpectedly. It makes me proud every time I sell one as I know its a special item with a great deal of my efforts and thought put into each clasp.
Below is the very condensed version of the making of a box clasp plus a peek at its inner workings.
1. The inner box is made & a slot carefully filled to accept the tongue of the clasp.
2. The tongue with the trigger is soldered and carefully filed and fitted to the box.
3. The etched sterling top deck is soldered in place and a the slot for the trigger is pierced & filed into a tight fit. This photo shows the box within a box, part of this clasp.
4. Once the bottom plate is added the tongue continues to get refined so it has the pleasing and important “CLICK” when it is fully engaged. Then the findings are soldered on, it is thoroughly cleaned, and is ready to be patinaed and added to a necklace.
5. Finally the clasp becomes the central part of a necklace. In this case a rough cut carnelian necklace with yellow turquoise. Its ready to go to a client.