I had an idea once for a piece of beaded jewelry. It was based on a piece that I had seen in an online auction catalog from one of the big auction houses, and it was a gorgeous diamond and enamel necklace from the early part of the twentieth century. It didn't look too hard to re-create using Swarovski crystal rivolis and crystal frames. For an eighteen-inch necklace, I only had to make peyote-stitch bezels around twenty-eight 12mm Swarovski rivolis. Easy, right?
I hadn't really had much practice making peyote-stitch bezels around rivolis when I thought up this project, but I figured I'd give it a go. While my son (who was still an infant at the time) took his morning nap, I sat down with the bag of rivolis and some cylinder beads and thought I'd whip up a few peyote-stitch bezels. It turned out to be much more of a learning experience than I expected! For starters, I had no idea how many cylinder beads I should be using for the base ring of each peyote-stitch bezel. Then I found that my bezels slipped around as I was trying to stitch them. I couldn't get the Swarovski rivolis to sit in them. The bezels slipped off too easily when I tried to attach them to the crystal frames. If anything, it was definitely a lesson in frustration.
I finally sat down and wrote out each step in making my peyote-stitch bezels. It wasn't easy, but with a lot of trial and error and lots of phone calls to one of my beading friends, I finally came away with a set of tips for making better peyote-stitch beaded bezels:
1. Don't use a very long piece of thread. You can make a secure peyote-stitch bezel using an arm's length (about five feet or less) of beading thread. If you plan on adding beaded embellishment to your peyote-stitch bezel, add a new thread. When you pick up your cylinder beads for the base ring, make sure you leave a good length of thread, around six or seven inches, for the tail. Using the tail to stitch a row of size 15o seed beads around the back of the rivoli after the bezel has been completed will make it fit better.
Checking the size of your base ring before you continue to stitch is very important to getting a securely-fitting peyote stitch bezel.
2. Check the size of your base ring. To make my peyote-stitch bezels for a rivoli, I multiply the size of the rivoli in millimeters by two and add two to that number. As an example, I would pick up thirty-four cylinder beads for a rivoli that is sixteen millimeters in diameter. (16 x 2 = 32. 32 + 2 = 34 cylinder beads for the base ring.) If your tension when you work peyote stitch is very loose, I would decrease the number of cylinder beads. A good rule of thumb is to have a base ring that is about two thirds of the diameter of your rivoli. (And always make sure that you have an even number of cylinder beads!)
3. Tension is also very important when making a peyote-stitch bezel. Beading too tightly can result in a bezel that will have too much beading thread showing between beads around the outermost edge. Beading too loosely can result in a peyote-stitch bezel that will fall off the rivoli too easily. The trick is to maintain a nice, even tension throughout the project.
Hold the rivoli in the bezel with your fingers as you stitch to ensure a good fit.
4. After you have stitched the first two rounds of tubular even-count peyote stitch, hold the rivoli against the bezel to check it for fit. At this point, I usually continue to hold the rivoli in place in the center of the bezel as I stitch. (I also remove any fingerprints after I'm finished with a soft, damp cloth.) As you stitch around the rivoli, you'll notice that the bezel wants to curl around the rivoli. Take advantage of that – pull lightly on your beading thread to help the bezel cup itself around the rivoli.
5. Use a row of size 15o seed beads on both the top AND the bottom of the bezel after it has been completed. Pull a little on your beading thread as you add these beads, and they will make your peyote-stitch bezel tighter around your rivoli. (You did leave a nice long tail to use, right?) When adding your size 15o seed beads, sort through the beads as you pick them up. Try to use thinner beads instead of the thick seed beads. It might seem like a lot of extra work when you're trying to pick through a pile of those tiny size 15o seed beads, but it will be worth it when you have a tight and secure peyote-stitch bezel around your beautiful Swarovski crystal rivoli!
A pair of peyote stitch bezels surrounding bright green rivolis. Size 15 seed beads keep them secure.
Like any skill worth knowing, learning how to make a good peyote-stitch bezel around a rivoli requires some practice. But take the time to make your peyote-stitch bezels the best they can be, and you'll find that you're on your way to making heirloom-quality jewelry!