Get Started Using Cabochons in Bead Embroidery

May 21, 2014

Using a grid drawn on my bead embroidery medium for symmetrical placement of my cabochons
I fell in love with bezeling cabochons using off-loom bead-weaving techniques when I first started learning how to bead. But it took me a little longer to warm up to the beading techniques used for including cabochons as part of my bead embroidery projects! My very first bead embroidered cabochon project wound up stuffed in the bottom of my bead box for years, until through lots of trial and error, I finally mastered the art of including cabochons in my bead embroidered jewelry.

Cabochons are my favorite way to begin any new bead embroidery design, because they give me the perfect point from which to begin. When I'm feeling completely lost in a sea of seed beads on my bead board, the cabochons are where I can fix my attention and start beading.

Playing With Design

I like to spend a day or two playing around with the layout of my cabochons before I start laying them out and attaching them to my bead embroidery backing. Use your digital camera to take pictures of all the different layouts you come up with, and then compare the images side-by-side to see which one appeals most to you.

When I'm playing with the layout of my cabochons, I like to mix my materials, combining gemstones with handmade ceramic and even handmade glass cabochons to my design. As long as I can tie the colors together with my choice of seed beads, I don't limit myself to using just one type of cabochon in a design.

Try arranging your cabochons in different configurations and take pictures with your digital camera before you begin stitching!

Another fun way to play with the layout of your cabochons is to mix calibrated cabochons (cabochons with a symmetrical shape like oval, round, or square) with free form artisan-cut gemstone cabochons.

If you want a symmetrical layout for your cabochons, don't be afraid to draw grids on your bead embroidery medium. I use a ruler and a compass for drawing precise lines on my bead embroidery medium to line up my cabochons before I secure and attach them. Unless you plan on leaving large areas of your bead embroidery medium uncovered, this is a great way to line up your cabochons. Of course, sometimes free form is fun, too, when I just want to glue 'em and go!

Securing Your Cabochons

Because this glue wasn't permanent, I was able to reposition two of my vintage glass cabochons for a more symmetrical design.
My second attempt at bead embroidery with cabochons was another one of those "learning experiences" I like to write about. I chose some bright, vivid dyed agate cabochons in deep blue and bright orange and glued them down to a piece of bead embroidery backing, thinking the glue would be enough to hold them securely.

This is where I developed my trust issues with glue. As I worked back stitch around and then in between each cabochon, they started to peel right off the bead embroidery medium! I was so discouraged, and since I hadn't yet mastered the art of the peyote stitch bezel for bead embroidery, that bead embroidery project with cabochons went into a plastic storage bag where it remains to this day.

These days, I bezel pretty much all of my cabochons with peyote stitch or netting when I'm including them in a bead embroidery project. If you're in a hurry and can't wait for the glue to dry before you start stitching, try using double-sided sticky tape to adhere your cabochons to the bead embroidery backing temporarily while you create your beaded bezels.

My latest project using bead embroidery with cabochons yielded an unexpected benefit of the glue I use only being "temporary": I discovered that my spacing was off for two of the cabochons I was using in the design, but thankfully, I could peel them off the bead embroidery backing and reposition them before continuing to stitch. Hooray for glue that doesn't stick!

Explore Bead Embroidery and Bead-weaving with Cabochons

Are you ready to explore more bead embroidery and bead-weaving techniques using cabochons? Check out Kelly Angeley's Explorations in Beadweaving. You'll learn how to use your favorite beading techniques to turn cabochons, found objects, and unusual beads into fabulous finished jewelry. For a limited time, you can get the digital version of Explorations in Beadweaving for just $9! What are you waiting for? Download your copy of Explorations in Beadweaving and start reading and beading today!

Do you have a favorite method for arranging and securing your cabochons before you start to bead? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your tips and techniques with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

Valbeads wrote
on May 22, 2014 12:27 AM

Hi, Jennifer,

An accident two years ago with my right thumb(my working hand, of course) left me with severely limited range of motion and the inability to manipulate a sewing needle any longer to do stitchwork.  I enjoy using wire to bezel my cabs, however, at your sister newsletter, JMD, when THEY discuss bezels, they're primarily talking about metalwork and soldering, A) which I can't afford on a fixed income, and B) I have such a horrific fear of fire I can't even light a match! (long story!)  I do a lot of stringing, wire wrapping and filigree wrapping, but sometimes, when I read either newsletter, it just seems none of these styles are ever discussed.  It really rather makes me feel left out.  I think artists who so the style jewelry I do have a lot to offer.  Couldn't we have a bit of focus on those techniques a bit more often?  Thanks for letting me express that.

Gloria E wrote
on May 22, 2014 12:05 PM

Great information that I can certainly use in the future!  I'm  also going to check out the digital version of 'Explorations in Beadweaving' .