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Hooks; Clasps; and Finger Rings
Article © MAIL User: Cynna

So you've made that wonderful piece of chainmail jewelry, but now you need to hook it somehow. You can go to a hobby store or jewelry catalog and buy one, but you can also make your
own! We work in aluminum and brass, which change color with age, and found that purchased clasps looked odd. And I liked the idea of a completely handmade piece - hard to say that when the clasp looks like all the others. Then Red and I found a Jig at the hobby store. It came in a pack designed
to make spiral jewelry out of colored copper. But more importantly, it gave us an idea - why not experiment? So we did.

Image: jig.jpg
Here is a picture of the Jig and the pegs that came with it.

First we came up with our own version of hooks and eyes - the same design used in bra hooks. It took a bit of trial and error, but we came up hooks that look like this. The hooks on the left show both sides, and what it looks like before the 'foldover' is added. We found that this design works well for bracelets and anklets, as well as on bras and belts. We made matching eyes, which work well on bracelets, but on anklets we found that an extender chain is better - ankles can swell after a full day of walking around, and it is hard to get an 'exact' fit. The curve of the hook can also be adjusted to hold better.

Image: clasps.jpg
Hooks and Clasps

We tried using regular hooks on necklaces, but on some items, the hook would work loose and the necklace would fall off - NOT GOOD! Also, on the 14 gauge wire, the regular hooks looked odd. That's when we designed the S-hooks (shown on the right). The top hook was designed to close a box-chain 14 gauge necklace. The other 2 show the variations possible with the S-hooks. The main curve can be wrapped around one of the pegs on the jig, or it can be wrapped on the same mandrel as the rings being used. If the curve matches the rings, it is very hard to see the hook, which is great if the piece shifts around. The space between the sides can be adjusted to make sure the eye or ring can't slip out.

We also use the jig system to create rings for our handflowers. The rings look like the eyes, only larger and rounder. It is wrapped to form an 'Omega' shape, and then the ends are bent at 90 degrees. These loops connect to the handflower. These rings are adjustable to fit a variety of fingers, and using matching metal means the ring ages at the same rate as the rest of the piece.

Image: rings.jpg
Finger Rings

Materials and Tools:
Wire - Less than a foot, but there will be some waste.
Jig - See picture above for a commercial Jig and pegs. Or you can make your own with a piece of wood and nails.
Round Nose Pliers - So you don't mar the metal and can create small loops
Snips - To cut the wire. You'll want some with points, so you can cut in close quarters.

Step 1: Pick your metal. We use the same metal as the main item, but a complementary metal/color can also work.

Step 2: Pick your clasp design. See picture above for 2 different designs. Within these designs, there are many variations.

Step 3: Lay out your pegs on the jig to form the design. Use small pegs for the connecting loops, and a larger peg for the center part. Or you can use the tips of round nose pliers to form small loops, and a mandrel bar to form the center curve. (ignore the extra pegs in the corners of the jig in the picture)

Step 4: Wrap the wire on the first peg. This takes a bit of practice to get perfect. Work with small pieces of wire, but leave enough to have a little left over. It is helpful to wrap one small loop first with the pliers, then hook it on a small peg. Then you can create whatever design you wish.

Step 5: Bend the center curve around the large peg.

Step 6: Wrap the wire around the other small peg and pull the wire off the jig.

Step 7: Clip the excess wire.

Step 8: Adjust any of the loops or curves with the round nose pliers, being careful to not mar the wire. If making hooks, carefully squeeze the center curve together (see picture of hooks above), and then fold over to form hook.

Step 9: Attach to jewelry.

Step 10: Polish/Buff piece.
Image: jig3.jpg
Using Jig

There, you're done!

We polish our pieces in small bags in the dryer on no heat. We don't usually polish the hooks or rings until they're on a piece, but they can be polished by themselves, as well.

One thing to be aware of - the metal can age and oxidize, and if you make up a bunch and store them, they might be a different color than the piece you attach them to. However, as the piece ages, the colors should match, especially if you polish the whole thing.

This is how we make our hooks, clasps, and rings for our pieces.

Cynna and Red
Today's Leather and Chain

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