Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Share...One of My Favorite, Go-To Components

The amazing, versatile, inexpensive, lowly, hardware store plumbing section...copper washer!

They come in lots of different sizes and gauges, and if you get them in their little plastic box from the hardware store, they are divided into their own compartments with a paper size guide included.  I have found these at some of  the big box stores, but not consistently...I usually go with Harbor Freight, but have also found them in other jewelry supply shops and Etsy.  Monsterslayer has square ones! Of course, if you have a high-end disc cutter, you can make your own, but I haven't gotten there yet :)

As I said earlier, there are so many jewelry uses for these...charms, connectors, and my very favorite, clasps.  In fact, I use copper washers for my toggle clasps almost exclusively.  Here are a couple of  my favorites...

This is one I made last year for my bead soup!
This is a simpler version I paired with a bracelet bar made by our very own Jenny Davies-Reazor!
These are really so simple to only need:
  • 1 copper washer
  • length of heavy gauge wire.  I like 12-14 best...depending on how ornate you want the toggle portion, about 2-3 inches. Make sure the size of your washer and wire are don't want a really heavy washer with lighter gauge wire and vice-versa.
  • torch for annealing/balling ends of wire
  • texturing tools..hammer, stamps, etc
  • steel block
  • Round nose pliers
  • flush cutters
  • hole punch/drill
  • patina
  • tumbler
  1. Anneal copper washer and heavy gauge wire with torch and clean/pickle
  2. Texturize washer to heart's 1st example used a brass patterned plate that I hammered onto it...I have even ran them through my new Big Shot.  Set washer aside.
  3. Using round nose pliers, make a loop in the center of your piece of wire.*
  4. Center it on your washer and measure the ends.  You want it to be able to sit on top of the washer nicely and not fall through.  (If you are going to ball ends in torch, you will want to keep ends a bit longer.)
  5. Cut wire with flush cutters and file ends.
  6. Either ball ends with torch, or texturize as desired.
  7. Patina with your desired method and tumble for while for a well-finished shine.
  8. Add to your own lovely bracelet or necklace design!
*  If you want to add more drama to the toggle, while you have the loop on your pliers, twist it around itself a few more times...this will take more wire, so plan ahead!

Depending on your design, you can punch a hole in the washer for a connector, or leave it and use jump rings, or figure eight type connectors.  I have used smaller wire wrapped loops as well.

I hope this inspires you to go and make something out of copper washers!  You can take this simple component and embellish it as much or as little as you want...enamel, solder, etching.  It doesn't have to be a clasp...

or round!
Have fun!

Melissa Meman
Melismatic Art Jewelry
Art. Life. Love.


  1. Great post Melissa - I'm a big fan of washers too...I love that something so utilitarian can be transformed into lovelies like yours.

  2. Thanks you sharing, perfect finishing touch

  3. GREAT post and beautiful designs! I'm really digging your blog :D I got a chuckle reading this, we are so like-minded, I buy the same ones from Harbor Freight...always a great deal there. I've never thought to hammer a patterned sheet on top, thanks for that! It's amazing the beauty and life you've given to such a simple piece of hardware :) Much love, Heather, PQ

  4. Ha! I just asked my hubs to pick up some hex nuts from Lowes for me. He said, what for? I said, jewelry, of course!! :)

  5. Great post! When you anneal the washer what kind of torch are you using? So far I just have one of those little crème brûlée type torches. Will that work?

    1. That should work, Linda...I use either my little butane one or my Lenk.

  6. Thanks so much for this great and fun post, full of wonderful ideas. I can't wait to get my hands on some copper washers now. : )

  7. I love using these washers and am almost out. Went to my Harbor Freight last weekend and they didn't have any and looked at me like I had 3 heads when I asked about them. I looked on line but didn't see them there either nor at my Lowe's or Home Depot. Does any one have another source. I would love some more - they are so much fun.

    1. Susan, Amazon has several supply sources, some with free shipping if you have Prime. Just ordered some, as there is no Harbor Freight close to me!
      Gina Hockett

  8. love that you use washers to make these amazing clasps and although I do not have any of the supplies or tools needed I would totally be able to follow this if I did!

  9. Beautiful pieces, all of them. I recognize that toggle clasp and I can say it is quite beautiful.

  10. I love those Harbor Freight washers too, Melissa -- you really transformed them! I can't even pick a favorite piece -- they're all gorgeous and all unique.

    This makes me want to sneak into the basement and snag a few of my husband's copper washers. ;)

  11. Thanks Melissa! For a great post, and showing off my ceramic piece in the bracelet! Sweet.

    1. I love that bracelet bar...may pull it and keep it for myself ;)

  12. Love how you have used the washers for a clasp. I have a really nice source for washers. They sell them by the pound and really reasonable yet besides. I hadn't thought to use them for clasps though so must give that a try.

  13. Thanks so much for this post. It's fun learning how to use different items in jewelry making. I'm loving how generous people are at sharing their tips, tutorials and sources! There is a hardware store I can walk to on my lunch hour from work. I think they'll be seeing a lot more of me in the future.

  14. Great post! Thanks for sharing! I was on your blog recently and I just love your creative style!

  15. Great info, I need to go buy some washers now!!


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