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    Beading Basics - Calottes

    , Jane Yang
    Finished Multi-stranded Necklace
    Calottes can give a very tidy and professional finish. They're also great for multi-stranded jewellery.

    Calottes can be quite confusing. Why use them when you have crimps and folding crimps available? They look so fiddly too - How do you use them? What's the difference between the Knot, Crimp and Bead method? Hopefully, this article will provide some detailed information about calottes that will make them less confusing because once you know how to use them, they are actually really useful little things!

    Calottes are also known as Clamshells due to their appearance – they are two half-round shells partially connected together. When the two halves are closed together, the calotte looks almost like any other bead. The calotte also has either a hook or a loop on one end which you use to attach to other elements of your jewellery (such as clasps, jump rings and chain etc).

    Calottes, also known as Clamshells have 2 cups attached together and a hook or hoop on top

    There are many different types and colours but the main differences you see are:

    1) Colour and material – Mainly gold-, silver- or brass-plated base metals or sterling silver;

    Different colour calottes
    Calottes are available in different colours

    2) Size – The standard size is about 4mm but there are larger and smaller ones available – especially ones designed for ball-chains;

    Different size calottes
    Sizes can vary a lot but for me, 4mm is the Goldilock of calottes

    3) Whether it has a closed hoop or an open hook on the end;

    Looped or Hooked Calotte
    Loop or hook?

    4) Whether the shells are connected at the bottom (Bottom-Open Calottes) or on the side (Side-Open Calottes);

    Side or bottom
    Calottes joined at the side (the one on the right) are usually used for Ball Chains

    5) Whether they’re double ended or single ended calottes.

    Single or double
    Some calottes have a single loop on one shell, others have a loop on both shells

    Once you know what is available, it’s then onto figuring out when to use calottes over other finishes. The first few years I started making jewellery, I didn’t see much point in using calottes because for me, crimps were much less complicated than the calottes and you can use either one for most jewellery finishes. However, over the years, I realised that there are a few occasions when the calottes are more ideal to use than other finishes. For example:

    1) When you’re using Ball Chain – When you’re using Ball Chains, the only way to finish them is to use a Calotte. (However, this only works with Side-Open Calottes);

    Ball Chain finished with a Calotte
    Calottes joined at the side are usually used for Ball Chains

    2) Making multi-stranded jewellery – all the threads can be hidden inside a calotte which is something you can’t do with crimps;

    3) You're using threads (like Nymo) which can fray. Finishes such as crimps has a tendency to wear down the thread much more easily than calottes;

    4) You’ve used crimps before and find them a bit scratchy and uncomfortable to wear, or not very attractive – If that’s the case, you may simply prefer to use calottes!

    Finally, the most important bit – how to use them! On first appearance, they can look like very complicated little devices but actually, once you know how they’re used, they are really straight forward. (But then again, you can say the same with most things, right?)

    Here’s what the finished product looks like when you’ve fixed a calotte to the end of your jewellery.

    Finished Multi-stranded Necklace
    Calottes are great for multi-stranded jewellery. This necklace is made using Nylon thread and finished with calottes using the Knot method

    To demonstrate how to accomplish that finish, I will use the Bottom-Open Calottes which is ideal for most jewellery finishes as they are more secure than the Side-Open Calottes (which is more suitable for Ball Chain)

    There are 3 different ways to fix them in place. These methods work whether you are starting or finishing your bracelet or necklace. The three methods are known as:

    1) Crimping Method;

    2) Knotting Method;

    3) Beading Method.

    Crimp Method

    1) Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together.

    Thread on the Tiger Wire
    Make sure the two shells are facing the end of the thread

    2) Thread on a 1.5mm or 2mm crimp and simply flatten it to fix it down on the part of the thread you want your calotte to be.

    Fix the crimp in position
    You can either flatten the crimp using standard Needle Pliers or Long Nose Pliers. You can also use the Crimping Pliers too

    3) Close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the crimp.

    Close the calotte
    Close the shells together to cover up the crimp

    4) Hook on a clasp or chain depending on what your design is and close the loop to finish.

    Add the Clasp
    Close the loop to finish

    Knot Method

    1) Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together.

    2) Then you just tie a knot at the end of your necklace - the idea is to create a knot that’s bigger than the hole on the calotte that you’ve just thread through.

    Start Knotting
    I’m using 0.6mm Nymo in this case - nymo can fray so I usually use a needle to guide it though the hole and then tie the knot by hand

    3) If your thread is quite thin, you may need to tie more than one knot. Just keep tying knots on the same spot until it becomes one large knot.

    Tie several knots
    I tied 4 simple overhand knots. You may need more knots if you are using thinner threads…or less if the thread is thicker

    4) To finish, simple close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the knot. As with the Crimping method, you can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain to finish your jewellery .

    Close over knot
    Simply close over the knot to finish

    Bead Method

    1) Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together and add a small seed bead at the end.

    Thread on Calotte and Seed Bead
    I’ve used a size 8 seed bead but that’s actually as little too big…as you’ll see below!

    2) Then you just tie a reef knot (which is basically 2 overhand knots) or a similarly secure knot to fix the bead in place.

    Fix down the seed bead
    Fix down the seed bead with a secure knot

    3) To finish, you can cut off any excess thread if there are any. Then simply close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the bead and the knot. You can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain depending on what your design is.

    Close over the seed bead
    As you can see, the size 8 seed bead is showing through just a bit. It would probably be more discrete to use a smaller, size 12 seed bead (and a less bright colour!)

    And those are the three methods. Once you’ve added the calotte, you’re ready to start beading!

    Attach on the Clasp StartBeading
    Once you added on the calotte, you can start beading!

    When you reach the end, just finish using the same method you started with. And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about calottes!

    I personally like to use the Crimping method for stiffer threads and the Knotting method for threads which are more supple but which method you use is really up to personal preference so experiment a bit and see which one you prefer!

    Happy beading!

    Jane Yang