Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Inside the Studio – Mary Harding

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
Congratulations Leilani
You have won a $25 gift certificate from Humblebeads Etsy Shop
Please send Heather an email with your information.
Welcome to my studio.  These last weeks, I have been busy making toggle clasps on a copper base.  Lots of sanding and polishing to do once the image is finished.  But I love making these each step of the way.  

                               Metal soldered stamped toggle clasps by Mary Harding  some now in my Etsy Shop

I was thinking back the other day to when I first began making toggle clasps and realized it has been quite a few years now.  My first toggle clasps were made from ceramic clay.  I continue to make some that way to this day.
I love how they look and especially enjoy painting on the glazes.  Looking at the date this photo below was taken, it is safe to say that I have been making toggle clasps for over 6 years.

                                 The  photo of this ceramic toggle clasp by Mary Harding was taken on July 23, 2008.

                           This picture of a 3 hole toggle clasp/donut pendant by Mary Harding was taken in September 2014.

My metal clasps have evolved a bit since I started making them a couple of years ago.  

                                            Copper clay toggle clasp by Mary Harding

                                     Flame Patina toggle clasp by Mary Harding

Double layer toggle clasp with flame patina by Mary Harding
Soldered Butterfly Toggle Clasp by Mary Harding

Now my metal toggle clasps have many more steps before they are completed.  Since I love using the torch so much, I take time to think up some new ways of making them.  This fall I came up with this combination of metals and textures
Textured Toggle Clasp by Mary Harding
This week I had a new idea for a toggle clasp.  It started out this way:

                                                     Wrapped wire and solder toggle clasp work in progress  by Mary Harding

Then I thought it needed to have a smaller middle opening so I wrapped wire around a base and came up with this design which I think has promise

wrapped wire over a base toggle clasp work in progress by Mary Harding

I think that it is important for studio/beading sessions to have some play and experimentation time. For me it usually comes close to the end when I am tired of standing and need a bit of a break. Whether or not this design will go any further is not as important as it is to let go of inhibitions and take chances.  Which brings me to my question.  How do you play/experiment in your beading/studio sessions?

Leave a comment below and you will automatically be entered to have a chance  to win one of my new silver metal toggle clasps.  One winner will be randomly chosen next week. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

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27 Comment

  1. lake ave
    December 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Love the evolution of your work, Mary.

  2. Ronda Walker
    December 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I love your closures. They would add a special touch to any piece they were used on.

  3. fulgorine
    December 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    LOL – It's all play for me! I hardly ever have a plan for what I'm making.

  4. Mokki
    December 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    These are lovely. For me I need to pick a day or afternoon and book it for play time. I need to know its my time to invent and experiment or I feel guilty for not making selling standard work.

  5. MaryRose
    December 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I love the last one!

  6. Nan Smith
    December 6, 2014 at 3:42 am

    You know how much I love your work, Mary. Your experimentation is inspiring. I've been experimenting with polymer clay lately and trying to "listen" to what the clay wants to become. It's amazing what I create sometimes without really planning it!

    By the way the date on your photo of your early ceramic toggle implies you have been at this for 106 years!!!

  7. Divya N
    December 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Though I make 2-3 themed collections a year, I also try and make pieces that are pure experiments. I usually start of with a technique and materials in which its not been done before or vice versa and try and combine them. I doesnt work well right away but I keep tweaking the process until I have made a one of a kind piece that may or may not be commercially viable but I still do it as the process is very educative

  8. sheilaposter
    December 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I love your toggle clasps.Each little circle is wonderful. but I was especially taken by the new idea, the wire wrapped toggles. I think you have come up with one fine new idea.

  9. Claire Lockwood
    December 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I LOVE the look of that wire-wrapped ring! I hope you will finish it off. All these toggles are beauties. I keep thinking of making some but I can settle on what to use as the toggle.

  10. Patti Vanderbloemen
    December 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Every single toggle on this page is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! But…the wire wrapped toggle you are working on is just over flowing with texture and I do so hope you finish it – gorgeous!

    I am always experimenting with designs – usually it begins with the shape of the sheet metal, i.e., first a circle, then a square, etc. I am starting to expand on the textures I achieve in the metals nowadays. It doesn't always work, but that's half the fun!

  11. Tina
    December 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Its very very beautifuk art work. I love it πŸ™‚ Amazing……………


  12. haezz
    December 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    While I very much like ceramic beads and toggles, I have an absolute love of your metal clasps.
    I play with scrap copper sheet and wire trying out new ways to texture and patina them. Polymer clay has crept into my playtime as well.

  13. Erin S
    December 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    LOVE the metal toggles! And I agree, letting go and experimenting are important to recharging your creative batteries. I tend to get ideas from other people's work, and will go into the studio, pull some beads and mess around a little, wrap some wire or ribbon around some things, connect some jump rings etc. Usually it amounts to nothing, but sometimes leads to an unexpected creative breakthrough.

  14. freshbakeddesigns
    December 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Just in awe of the variety of patinas and finishes in both clay and metal! Especially taken with the flamed coppers. You inspire me!

    December 7, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I mostly find myself experimenting freely while doing wirework, I hold a piece of wire and let it guide my hands πŸ™‚
    Beautiful work, thank you

    [email protected]

  16. Maryann
    December 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Your toggles are the most beautiful I have seen. They are truly a work o f art!

  17. Kathy Lindemer
    December 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Gorgeous clasps!

  18. Debra Gibson
    December 7, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Of course I love your work Mary!
    But it's always playtime, but if I am trying something different I just jump in feet first ! It can be a little scary but that's normal and art is not about perfection it's about letting go ! Thank's for the chance to win !
    Merry Christmas !!

  19. Ann Schroeder
    December 9, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Your clasps are beautiful. I love your work in progress!! When I want to play, I make something for Free Art Friday because then I have no expectations and don't second guess the whole time. I am slowly nudging myself toward more play/experimentation in all my creating.

  20. Sarajo Wentling
    December 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    You make such pretty components, Mary! To answer your question, I think I need to be more playful… to approach the work table open to the possibilities and without a pre-determined idea of where a creation should go more often. I think the one time that I really approach things with more of a sense of play is when I'm using the Vintaj patinas to paint metals.

  21. Sherri Stokey
    December 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Gorgeous work – I can't believe you've been at it for over 100 years πŸ˜‰

  22. Colleen
    December 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    How do I experiment in my beading sessions. Hmm. I don't yet get too crazy with experimenting, but usually it happens when I'm sitting there looking at a bunch of stuff all spread out trying to create something. I usually start with an art bead and build from there.

  23. Shaiha
    December 11, 2014 at 6:41 am

    I really need to start playing more in my studio. I set up place to play with metal but it seems as though every time I schedule playtime an inspiration hits me and I end up making some jewelry. I do have to say that I love your clasps. I have one of your ceramic ones that I have been hoarding.

  24. Mary Harding
    December 11, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments!! I love hearing about how you play and let go. And thanks too for letting me know I am not yet 100 years old!! Your enthusiasm and humor are inspiring me!!

  25. bairozan
    December 11, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Your toggle clasps can change the look of a piece of jewelry and easily become a focal! It is a privilege to own one!

  26. Maneki
    December 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Yes, experimentation and play time (doodling with beads or by carving texture plates/stamps is my favorite thing) is so important — for so many reasons. As you say, it's a matter of daring to take chances and explore ideas and/or techniques, but it can also be a fab way to get out of a rut or be creative while feeling to distracted to work on a project.

    Playing is fun but I do feel like I've forsaken it for too long, especially when it comes to playing with the micro torch as my workspace is too full of stuff to safely get the torch out. Seeing your experiments, which are so in my taste and at least partially my line of work, really inspires me to get back into the studio again and start playing with wire and solder! Thanks for that much needed creative spark!

  27. Stories They Tell
    December 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    These are brilliant, Mary!I really love the metal work that you've been doing lately.

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