Before I begin a project, I consider functionality, durability, the materials I’ll be using, the idea that I’m trying to convey, and the overall design. When I sketched out the basic concept for a shadowbox pendant with a decorative focal panel that could be changed out by the wearer, I had three main challenges: I needed to elevate the panel from the back of the box to make the panel appear to float within the box; I needed to make it easy for the user to switch out the panel; and I needed to make the mechanism for attaching the panel to the shadowbox sturdy enough to last.
To solve these challenges, I modified a standard box clasp. Hidden inside the pendant’s frame is the box part of the box clasp mechanism. The second part of the mechanism, the tongue, fits inside the box. The tongue is attached to the focal panel itself, so you secure the focal panel’s tongue in the box. It’s easy for the wearer to quickly release the panel and swap it for a different one.
Making a piece with some flexibility allows the metalsmith in you to design an overall layout, yet allows the artist in you to have fun with the creative process. I’ll show you how this mechanism works; you can design the rest!
Read instructions on fashioning the box clasp below, or click here for complete instructions in the free project PDF.
- Metal sheet:
- 0.40–0.75 mm (26–21-gauge)
- 0.8–1.0 mm (20–18-gauge)
- Fine-silver wire (small amount to ball into a bead)
Additional tools & supplies
- Precision square or T-square
- Pliers: roundnose, smooth jaw
- Sandpaper: various grits
- Ball burs
- Rolling mill (optional)
- Acetone (nail-polish remover)