Panopoly: Ceramic art and craft, by Lynae Zebest

Button (or Bead) Clasps for Your Fiber Jewelry

I’ve been really getting into making friendship bracelets lately, but I kinda wasn’t wearing them, because I hate having to undo the knots afterward, and it makes them get worn out really quickly. I had been thinking of buying some s-hooks at the hardware store and using those, but that didn’t sound very comfortable. I wanted something easy to do and undo that also, you know, looked nice.

Meanwhile, I make porcelain beads and buttons, and I always end up having a few oddballs that for whatever reason never end up in the shop. I’ve been meaning to replace the buttons on some of my clothes with my own work, but I never seem to get around to it! So I pulled those out and started messing with them. As it turns out, they make the perfect clasps, just slipped through a simple loop, and the porcelain is never cold like metal, either.

There were a couple kinks to work out–chief among them the fact that attaching them was hard. The embroidery floss just didn’t want to behave. It was hard to make nice snug neat knots and then they’d keep coming undone. I thought about using glue but me + glue = sticky stuff everywhere. Plus it feels like cheating. Then I saw this macrame tutorial that uses waxed thread, precisely because it makes the thread behave and knots securely. Huzzah! And fortuitously enough, I had a block of beeswax lying around from when I took a book-making class. (If you don’t hoarde art supplies like me, you could wax your thread with a candle too. Beeswax is best but I think paraffin wax would probably work as well.)

And they look great!

button clasps

So in an idle moment, I put together the super advanced and sophisticated tutorial seen below, so that you can make these clasps too. Please click on it to make it big so you can read it and admire my beautiful illustrations!

button clasp tutorial

A couple notes:

1. I do not recommend waxing yarn, or anything but embroidery floss, string or thread. (You probably won’t need it, and it’ll look yucky if you try anyway.) To wax, just run the thread along the surface of the solid wax. The more you do it the waxier the thread will be. I do it until the thread is kind of stiff and a bit tacky. You do not need to wax all the thread for your project, unless you want. Just the ends where the clasp will be will do.

2. This will also work for beads or buttons that have more than two holes. If you have fewer strands of fiber than you have button holes, you could stitch the fibers through the holes a few times to make up for it…but if you only have one strand of thread or other fiber, I recommend using a nice flat bead instead, because otherwise it’ll look pretty uneven.

There is so much amazing, easy-to-make jewelry out there, and you can really elevate it to the next level with just the right button or bead. Good luck with all your projects, and have fun!