Magnetic clasps. Whether you love them (They're so easy to take on an off! They're inexpensive and don't take up much room!) or hate them (Is this thing messing with my pacemaker? Why did the strip on the back of my credit card stop working? Did my bracelet really just attach to that moving bus?), I'm willing to bet that most of you have one or two in your jewelry-making stash (unless you're in the pacemaker group–if so, please avoid using these kind of clasps).
As for me, I'm split on what I think about magnetic clasps. While I think they are convenient and work really well for making tight connections in off-loom beadwork, I find many types aren't 1) strong enough to hold beadworked projects together properly; and 2) well, kind of ugly, all naked and industrial and hanging off the end of a beautifully designed piece.
As far the first point about their strength, I recommend using the larger 8mm clasps with strong magnets, or at least use 2 of the smaller 6mm clasps for security. And, if you want to be extra secure when making a bracelet, add a safety chain that connects the ends, but is long enough so that you can slide the bracelet over your wrist when you put it on. That way, if said moving bus does come by, your clasp may come undone, but it won't take your bracelet with it.
As far as how they look? Well, I've got a bunch of go-arounds for that one! Here's one way to prettify a magnetic clasp:
–String an even number of beads to fit snugly around one half of the clasp. (I'm using an 8mm gold-filled Mag-Lok clasp here–it's mighty strong.) Place the ring of beads around the clasp so it sits near the magnetic face.
–Turn the clasp over so the backside points up. Work rounds of tubular peyote stitch until the beads are even with the back of the clasp.
–Sew through the ring on the clasp and into a bead on the other side of the peyote-stitched tube; repeat several times, passing through the ring at different angles and through different beads across the tube so it's connected all around. (In the example here, I've added 4 buffer beads so that my thread won't abrade as much when I pull the magnets apart.)
–If you wish, form decreases now, pulling the beadwork snug across the back of the clasp. Or, you could do what I did: Increase the length of the tube, secure a glass bead to the other side of the tube so it sits on the back of the clasp, then add a flat peyote-stitched strip on one side of the tube.
–Next, stitch the end of the strip to the other side of the peyote-stitched tube, forming a loop. A little stitch-in-the-ditch embellishment gives some interest.
–When I made a second clasp half and put them together, I created not only a strong clasp, but an interesting component that I can utilize as a true design element, not just a slapped-on afterthought.
What do you think about magnetic clasps? Love them or hate them? Do you have ideas on how to use them? Please share them with us on the Inside Beadwork blog.
Senior editor, Beadwork magazine