Materials and tools

Part oft In: lure of heading with cabochons is that ii allows you to make beautiful, unique, professional looking jewelry and other crealions, vet. llie techniques arc remarkably simple. Gather together just a jew materials and tools, and you're on your way.


A cabochon is a *tonc, gem. or other object thai has a flat back anrl a smooth clonic surface. The material ran be either natural (such as agate) or man-made (such as glass). Cabochons come in many shapes ami sizes, From verv small, such as S mm rounds, to large., such as 30 x 40 mm ovals. I apidaries love to use the caboclion shape because the polished dome surface is perfect for highlighting a stones colors and variations. Glass and ceramic artists have also discov ered the advantages of using this simple shape to ere ate lovely little pieces ol art.

Cabochons are widely available on the Web and in most local head shops. Rock and gem shows are another great place to find cabochons and oiler the added advant age of a fun shopping experience. These shows are advertised on the Web and in many bead and lapidary magazines. With all the materials now used to make cabochons, you can find any color your heart desires!

1-or your lust projects, I recommend that you choose either round or oval cabochons w ith a dome that's approximately 4 mm high and that has a good slopr tapering to a thin edge.This shape and configuration is easiest to bead properK. After you've become comfortable with the. basic techniques of cabochon beadwork, you can expand the universe of vour selections to include stones with odd shapes, flattened domes, or thick edges.


Technically, a bead is Helmed as anything with a hole in it that can be strung, woven, embroidered, or otherwise assembled with other beads to create jewelry or some other object.

In cabochon beadwork, the cabochon t.s sui rounded by rows of beads stitched around its outside edge to a backing material. The initial row around the outside edge is called the base rotr. In the techniques described in this book, an additional row of beads.

Seed beads are the mainstay material of cahor.hon beadwork. They're available in an ¿imiy of finishes, from matte to metallic. and in an almost unlimited spcctrum of colors.

called the kve/, encircle the face just inside the base, low to hold the stone in placc.

Round beads work best foi all ol these rows because- their curves allow them to lie more per lectlv next to one another and follow the curvature ol the cabochon Cylindrical beads are not well suited for the cahochon rows, but the) aie useful lor other design elements in your creations.

Round «.*'</ beads, small glass beads named for the seeds rhev resemble, are commonlv used lor the beaded rows.These beads aie also iclerred to as rocailles. Seed beads are sized according to number, the higher the number, the smaller the bead (The number is usually followed bv w hat looks like a degree mark, as iu si/e 1 or b\ a slash and the number 0, as iu I 4/0. I his book uses the degree mark approach.) Many other kind« of beads are sized in millimeters.

Most cabochon beadwoik projects will use size 1and/oi size 1 V to bead around the cabochon and create the bezel. In chapter five, Other He/el Stitches, various other bead sizes—sue h as size V or 6" (large seed beads called "k"beads), oi 3 uiiu to & nun beads are used either for creative effects or to solve particular problems related to the curse ol the cabochon. Be cautious ol some Czech seed beads, especiallv sizes 1 3" and smaller, because many of those beads have very small holes. Japanese seed beads work well because liu\ oenerallv have larger holes and are uniform in si;.e. Beads with larger holes give vou more design options because you can pass needle and thread through the bead many times.

Ac luallv, any bead can be used iu cabochon bead-work, with the provision that the hole in the bead be large enough to allow passing the needle and thread through it at least lour limes. Many ol the stitches iu this book require the needle and tluvad to pass through the beads several times, so if die hole is not larye enough voufre likely to enconnter problems completing a stitch. II you're not sure the bead«, you want to use lor a piece have sulficiuith large hules, test them fiist. I his hole size criterion excludes ven few beads. In other words, vour choices for cabochon beadwork are nearly unlimited.

Bonding needles and thread

Needles and Threads

The needles and threads used in cabochon beadwork are made specilicallv lor beading. Needles come iu sizes 10, 12, 13, 13, and 16; the liighei the number» the smaller the needle, l or the projects in this


Throughout this hook, you'll be instructed to tie knots. The good news is that you need to know how to tie only two basic kinds, and they're both easy to lcarn-in fact, you may already bo familiar with them.

Squaro Knot Steps iWWU

figure 1 figure 2 figure 3 figure 4

Square Knot

This is the pielerred knot to use whenever you need to join two threads or two thread ends. The important quality of a square knot is that it tightens on itself when the ends are pulled: some knots actually loosen instead. Tu lie u square knot, position the thread ends th.'it you want to join so that one is to the right and the other is to the left {figure l). Loop thy right over and around the left (figure 2). Then take the thread that is now on the left and loop it over and around the right (figure 3). lJwll the ends to secure the knot (figure 4).

Be sure to weave in the ends before you cut so that you are not culling next to the knot I his includes Ihe situation where you are tying off a stitch that is worked douhle-thread. In that case, cut the thread near the needle and put ¿j Muudlu on II10 other thread t=nd. too. Take one of the needles and stitch over Vs inch (3 mm) to provide a base between the two threads; then tie the knot. This is more secure than lying Ihe knot where both threads are coming out of the same hole, because 0 knot in that situation could be pulled down into the hole.

One-Thread Knot

This knot is useful whenever you have only one thread end and therefore can't tie a square knot. Stitch down into the fabric to create a small loop (figure 5). Be sure to grab enough fabric so that the knot is anchored securely. Pass the needle and thread through the loop twice and pull (figures 6 and /). The trick to this knot is to manage the thread so that the loops ate small before you pull to tighten. If there's going to he a lot of stress (pull) on Ihe knot, stitch over and do a second knot. Be sure to weave in the end before you cut so that you are nnf cutting next to the knot.

figure 5
figure 6

figure 7

figure 7

book, you'll need a beading needle sire I "> or I P.nglish-made heading needles lend t<: liave .1 larger hole lor the thread in relation lo the ciicumfeiencc of die needle than other types; in other words, the needles are thinner and easier ro thread Heading threads come in various materials, colors, ami sizes. For cabochon beadwork, I recommend pre-waxed, twisted multifilament beading thread in size A. This type of thread is available in nylon fibers and rire libers. Unwaxed, unt\viste<l multifilament thread in size A or H also ran be used, but il ne^ds to be waxed and tends to I ray more dian the other type when the thread is draw n through fabric hacking many times. You can minimize litis Iraving by rew axing the thread periodically while vouVe beading.

In this book's instructions, some methods call lor working a project single thread an< others Joubk-thread. To work double-thread, simplv move the needle to the center ol die thread so .hat \ou hu\e two equal-length strands.


Threading Problems? You Are Not Alone!

Tlveaditxg u beading needle is a challenge for everyone. Practice and experience will make ijau more comfortahie with this essential part of beading. Don't gal discouraged.

Backing Materials

Cabochon beadwork employs two separate layers ol backing material an under backing, to which the cabochon is glued and the initial rows sewn on, and an outer backing that covers the stitched material and serves as the piece's visible back. Utidci backing material needs to be sturdy, with a composition that doesn't frav when cut. I recommend the special beading foundation material sold in nian\ heading stores and 011 die Internet. 1 he product is made specifically foi cabochon beading and other bead embroidery techniques It is lightweight yet has a sturdv hotly to support even very heavy heads and is excellent lor holding its shape.

You can also use other materials for undei back ing, such as heavy interlacing material available at fabric stores. Choose fusible interlacing and increase the material's stability b\ I using two pieces together w ith an iron. Other options for under backing material include leather, suede, synthetic suede, and felt. All these materials can he cut without fraying. I low ever, tlicv don't hold their shape as well as beading foundation material and mav be more difficult to push a needle through.

Although the under backing isn't clearly visible 011 a finished piece, there may be small areas between the heads that show through. Accordingly, it is appropriate to use a color that blends into the background.You can use permanent markers and/or acrvlic paints to color materials that are available onlv in white. It's not nccc3sar> to match thv color of the beads or cabochons, but simply lo tone dow 11 the bright white of these products. You can buy leather and synthetic suede in a variety of colors or tint them vourself.

I recommend using synthetic suede for the outer backing material. It's widelv available in labric stores and on the Internet. He sure to select a synthetic suede fabric that is fused fibers and not a texture on a weave or a knit Because the outer backing is not visible except from I he bat k, you can use either a color that matches voui beads 01 a neutral color.

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