Anyone who knows me also knows that I'm addicted to cabochons. I don't know why I'm fascinated by them, but I am. The idea that you can take a jewelry making component without any holes, like a cabochon, and turn it into a piece of jewelry using bead-weaving and wire wrapping is still amazing to me. I've got hoards of cabochons in my bead stash. If anyone were going to make a television show about jewelry making hoarders, that would be me. And it's not like I can stop myself from buying new ones, either!
After I learned how to do Viking knit last summer, I've been making some pretty cool Viking knit wire chains for some of my bead-weaving projects. So when a friend of mine, who does absolutely gorgeous Viking knit projects, told me that you can use Viking knit to make a wire bezel for a cabochon, I jumped all over that. I figured if I was going to continue with my cabochon-buying habit, I'd better learn a few new tricks for using them, right?
This is where my Viking knit cabochon bezel project got…interesting.
Viking Knit Glitches
As I finished making my first row of loops, I realized that unless I did something to secure them, they were going to slide all over the 18 gauge wire. Ugh! What I wound up doing was trimming off that first row and wrapping it again, this time making an extra wrap through each loop that I had just made to keep it somewhat steady.
I also found that if I pulled too tightly, the wire frame would distort. I made extra effort to be gentle with my wire, reminding myself that this wasn't like working with Fireline or beading thread.
I started working in Viking knit around the base I had just made. I held the onyx cabochon in place with my fingers for the first round, but when I started the second round, I found myself struggling to hold the cabochon in place. Apparently, my enthusiasm for keeping a tight tension (as I usually do in my Viking knit projects) resulted in a cabochon bezel that was too small for the onyx cabochon I had chosen.
After digging around in my cabochon stash, I found an old Picture Jasper cabochon that fit nicely in the Viking knit bezel. Problem solved! I went back to weaving, until…
Suddenly, I realized that the wire I was weaving with was much too short. What had happened? Had I really used up all that wire so fast?
Alas, no. I looked down under my desk, and there was half the length of 24 gauge copper wire that I had started with staring back up at me.
Because I already knew a little bit about how to add more wire in a Viking knit project, I quickly improvised and added a new length of copper wire to the bezel. Once I was happy with the new wire, I continued weaving around my cabochon.
That was when I let myself get too comfortable. Oh, it was so easy! Now that I had overcome those little stumbling blocks, I was well on my way to having a beautiful finished Viking knit wire bezel for my cabochon, right?
As I started on the last round of Viking knit to snug up the bezel around the cabochon, I looked down and realized that for the last row, I had been doing some kind of wire weaving that was most definitely NOT Viking knit. I have no idea what it was. It felt like Viking knit at the time. I thought it even looked like Viking knit. But, no. When I took a good, hard look at it, it was something else entirely.
At this point, I just decided that enough was enough. I finished up the last row (in REAL Viking knit), and then I wrapped the last of the copper wire around the two wires at the top of the cabochon. I trimmed and bent that wire into a nice bail and then spread the two wires apart to make a graceful v-shape. (And that was about the only graceful thing about this whole project!)
Overall, I was reasonably happy with my Viking knit wire bezel. It's certainly secure enough to hold the cabochon in place, and I can see how this would be a great technique for making a wire bezel around a free form cabochon. Once you know basic Viking knit, it's easy to see how it translates into beautiful wire bezels for your favorite cabochons! With a little more practice, maybe I'll actually be able to make a dent in that huge stash of cabochons I have in my basement.
Are you ready for some new adventures with cabochons and wire? Check out our newest Step By Step Wire Jewelry eBook, 10 Wire Bezel Projects for Your Favorite Cabochons. Even if you only have some basic wire wrapping or chain maille skills, you can create beautiful wire bezels for all your favorite cabochons. Each project has complete step-by-step instructions, along with tips from the artists for successful cabochon and wire projects. You'll learn new skills along the way that you can use to make even more beautiful wire jewelry!
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Have you ever tried an unusual technique for creating a cabochon bezel? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your experience, or better yet, take a picture of your cabochon bezel project and post it in the Reader Photo Gallery.