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Friday, 5 March 2010

How to: Creating a mount around a stone with beads.

For those who would like to know, this is how I make my work. This is the first stage; the stone, or in this case a piece of sea glass, is glued to a piece of stiff interfacing or something similar that doesn't fray. If you are using dark colours paint the backing to match if you like, as it can show through particularly at the edges. I've left it white to make it easier to see.
Stage 2, apologies for the slightly blurred image, this stage is only necessary if the edges of the stone are uneven or do not lie flat on the surface. If you are using a cut cabochon with a flat back you can go directly to the next stage. 
This stage is called the lift row, it takes the beads up to a level with the top surface of the stone so that you can begin creating the mount itself. Thread about 3 feet of thread onto a beading needle.  Attach the threaded needle to the backing close to the edge of the stone. Thread enough beads to go around the stone as closely as possible. The beads will need to be the right size so that their top surfaces sit level with the top of the stone more or less, bettter to be slightly below than too high. Take the thread back down through the backing at the same point you started so that the beads form a loop around your stone, then bring the needle back up about 1/4 of the way around and stitch over the original thread down to the backing between two beads, ensure that the beads still sit regularly around the stone. Repeat this at 1/2 way round and 3/4 so that the loop of beads is fixed down at 4 evenly space points. Now stitch the thread down between every bead, making sure that they sit as close to the stone as possible. When you have gone all the way round between every bead in the loop bring the needle up through the backing and take the thread through the holes in the beads as many times as you can round the loop until the holes are completely filled with thread. Fasten off the thread at the back.
Start a new length of thread and bring it up between the lift row and the stone. This is the first bezel row, if you are using a more normal cabochon with a flat back this would be your first  row. Using beads of a smaller size than the lift row,  if this is just your first row and has no lift row beneath it then size 10 or 12 is an appropriate size, with a lift row then that will determine the size if this row. Thread four beads onto the thread and put the needle back through the backing at the end of these beads, again down between the lift row and the stone, or as close to the edge of the cabochon as possible, ensure that the beads lay flat  on top of the lift row if there is one, touching closely, make sure they dont dip down between lift row and stone. Bring the needle up again at a distance of two beads, behind the first four beads. Thread on two more beads and take the needle through the first four beads again. You need to use the finest needle you can, because you will be going through these beads several times. Thread four more beads onto the needle and again take the needle down into the backing at the end of these beads, then back up through 6 beads back, two beads behind the four you've just added, and thread through these 4 beads. Continue until you have completed the row. The last section may not accommodate 4 beads, so add as many as will fit comfortably, dont add too many or they will sit up above the row and look untidy. Now thread around and around the row of beads as before until the beads' holes are as full of thread as you can get them. Fasten the thread off and thread a new piece again.

Stage 4 2nd bezel row.
This is the last row of the bezel which holds the stone in place, if you are using a large flat backed stone you can add further rows after this, but it gets harder to do! As you can see the stone starts to disappear under the beads. Thus row is similar to the last but with a slight difference. Using smaller beads again, usually size 12   (or 15) on a regular flat backed cab. Bring the needle up between the first bezel row and the stone and thread on 4 beads, take the thread back down at the end of these four beads, ensuring they lie flat and as even as possible. For your first try use nice even modern beads so you get a really good finish and don't get put off, you can see in my photo that I've used old, slightly uneven beads for this row, I think it adds character! This time bring the needle up between the 2nd and third beads and take the thread back through beads 3 and 4. Add four more beads and take the needle down at the end of these 4 beads, back up between beads 2 and 3 of the last 4 and thread through  beads 3 and 4 again. Continue like this until this row is finished and thread through the beads again until you can't get the needle through any more. this is the bezel finished. Your stone is now held firmly onto this backing as it would be by a metal bezel.
This stage is very simple, glue the completed bezel onto a final backing. I use clothing grade leather for mine but you can use anything that doesn't fray, there are specialist backing materials available from beading suppliers, in vinyl and stuff like that. Make sure that the glue doesn't go right to the edge of the stitching as you need to stitch through this bit, it's not a disaster but it makes things a bit easier if there's no glue here, once the glue is dry, I use normal PVA type glue, then trim closely through both layers make sure you don't cut the stitching.
Stage 6 trimmed edges.
Stage 7 edge row.
This row hides the edges of the two backing pieces and is crucial to get right. Using size 12 beads or a suitable size for your piece, fasten a piece of thread to the piece at about 2 mm from the edge and thread up through both layers at a slight angle to bring the needle out as close to the outer row of beads as possible Now you stitch a row, using brick stitch, around the edge of the two backing materials, thread a bead and go back through the backing layers again thread up through the bead, add another bead and go back through the backings, thread up through the second bead, pulling the thread out parallel to the work, thread a bead, back through the backings and out through the bead just threaded, thread another bead, stitch through the backing layers and thread up through the last bead and so on, keep the stitches very neat as they show on the back, make sure the beads sit neatly next to each other, you are trying to hide the join between the two layers. As you pull the needle back out of each bead keep the thread absolutely parallel to the work or this row will not sit flat. Go back down through the first bead when you reach the end of the row and fix your thread by working back through several beads and cut off, at the back, level with the surface. Use glue or nail varnish to fix it. I've actually used delica beads in this photo, rounder beads are easier to use for this stage. but I don't like an easy life.
 This shows the back after the edging row is finished. Note that the beads sit round the edge flat, they don't stick down below the edge or up above it, this takes practise and care, to pull the thread out through each bead exactly parallel to the backing, if you pull upwards the beads will sit upwards like a pie crust!  Similarly if you pull downwards you get a flange effect and the inner backing will show.

Now you can do the fancy stuff round the edge. Just a row of beads stitched onto the stitches of the edging row will hide them, like brick stitch but without going back through each bead, I like to go a bit nuts at this stage!  You can do simple picots, frames of brick stitch or peyote, or mad fringes like mine, you can also do fancy work on the inside edge of the bezel if you like, best done before the final backing stage. This is the time for experiment and fun.
The finished piece 'cheated' with the necklace part of this one, it's part of the beaded strap from an old evening bag I bought for the beads on it.
I'm sorry if these instructions aren't wonderfully clear, when you know how to do something you can think that you've explained it perfectly well when you haven't really. I thoroughly recommend the book 'Beading with Cabochons' by Jamie Cloud Eakin, which is how I learnt to begin with.
I know that there is a completely different technique using peyote stitch which doesn't use a backing and leaves both sides of the stone visible. I don't get on with this technique at all, mostly because I don't like peyote stitch, although other people use it very effectively. 
I recommend using a thread conditioner like Thread Heaven or similar and 1G thread from Japan, be prepared to break a lot of needles, particularly if, like me, you prefer to use size 12s and 15s rather than 10s and 12s  for your bezel rows, I've even used size 24 sometimes.
Happy beading folks.

Brick stitch instructions here: http://www.beadjewelrymaking.com/Arts_and_Craft_Idea/flat_brick_stitch_instruction.html
Or do a search, loads of people offering instructions. There's an excellent book 'Beading with Brick Stitch':  http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=beading+with+brick+stitch&sprefix=beading+with 
which looks like it might have gone out of print as it's quite pricey on Amazon at the moment.

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