Saturday, November 13, 2010

My First Attempt at Toggles - Part One

Sometimes it's just hard to find the right toggle. Don't you think?

I'm working on a special project, and thought it would look nice to have a toggle to match the necklace design I'm working on. I've always admired the beautiful toggle clasps by Mary Harding and other clay artists, but haven't actually tried my hand at them until now.

So I just went for it, and took out my clay and started browsing my tools and molds and got started.  I chose some of my favorite templates that I've used for years for my earrings and pins etc.  I made them by drawing their shapes on stencil paper, then using an X-acto knife to cut out the shapes.  I've found that file folders work as well as stencil paper.  I rolled out the clay, then cut the shapes with a clay cutting tool.

Then I picked out a few molds that I've used for my jewelry with themes that I use on a regular basis like swirls, starfish and leaves. I pressed the cut clay shapes into the molds.
After pressing the shapes into the molds, it makes the edges of the piece unruly, so I put the template over the piece again, and re-cut it to make the edges even. 
Once I had my toggle pieces, I inserted some high fire wire loops into the edges of the toggles, and the reverse of the toggle bars.
After the toggles were dry, I sponged them smooth with an elephant ear sponge, and smoothed the toggle openings with a large bristle brush.  These photos were taken during the pre-smooth stage.
I chose the same patterns to make the toggle bars. It's quite a process, but I found it very enjoyable. I think the most difficult part is figuring out where to put the design on the toggle so you can see it afterwards, since you cut out a pretty good chunk in the middle.It made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into making a finished toggle, and I'm only half way there.

So first thing this morning I headed out to the kiln and I'm firing them up! I'll be back for part two once I glaze them.  See you then!


  1. These look very good. Thanks for mentioning mine
    in your post.

  2. Not sure why Cindy - but it's always good to have a challenge. :)

    Thanks Mary - That means a lot coming from you. :) Thank you for your Toggle inspiration.

  3. Wonderful Lisa and so informative. Will check to see the finished pieces soon.

  4. Great post! It will be great to see how they come out…

    I always have issues with toggle design too. I used to think that I had to create both ends to be used and considered what should the inside diameter of the hole be to accept the toggle bar without it always coming out. A lot of it will have to do with the actual jewelry design of the pieces though.

    Isn't it funny how working through it makes you reconsider your design layout, the overall shape, and how it will be used. I love those kinds of "realization" times. It's like a growth period within your line of pieces! Yay!

  5. Thanks Gerry and Marsha. Yes, the custom toggles open up a whole new world as far as the design of my necklaces go. I can't wait to start using them. Hopefully they will be worthy of putting in front or on the side of my necklaces instead of hiding them in the back.

    So true - it's all just a creative learning experiment. I also have no idea if the bars are the right shape or length. That's why I usually make a pile of whatever I'm making - so there's a chance that something will work. If they don't, I'll adapt them the next time!

  6. O.K. Lisa, I have been waiting, tap, tap tap....patiently I might add, more taps, tap, tap ready to see your new work completed.
    :-) tap....tap

  7. haha - Thanks Gerry - tap, tap, tap. :) I'll be working on those soon - I'm anxious to see how they turn out myself! I currently have about 10 projects in the works and looking forward to getting some finished.

    I just had Mohs surgery on my nose today to remove a basal cell carcinoma skin cancer, and plastic surgery - so now that I'm beyond that event I'll have more time to focus on my projects. Send some healing vibes my way ~~~ I'll keep you posted on those toggles. Lisa :)