An Easy Way to Measure Cabochons

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a
contributing editor to Beading Daily

I find I often struggle along with a way of doing things for years until someone or something points out how utterly laborious my way of doing things actually is. For instance, when I make kits for the classes I teach, I use these tiny little bags to put small amounts of seed beads into. To open one I've always dug my fingernails into the opening to pry it open. But when my friend Anna came over to help me kit the other night she said, "Why are you struggling so? Just squeeze and twist!" And quicker than heck, she snapped that stinker open by sliding the zipped portion horizontally between her thumb and forefinger. My life was instantly changed! Well, okay, maybe not changed, but I sure can kit a lot faster now.

One of those "aha" moments happened again this morning as I was paging through Dale Cougar Armstrong's new book, Wirework, a beautiful offering with sophisticated and fashionable wire designs. The how-to sections are so clearly illustrated I think I could actually do this seemingly complicated-looking stuff. Anyway, Dale uses lots of cabochons in her work, so she outlines in her book how to properly (and easily) measure them. Want to learn how?


No-Fuss Way to Measure a Cabochon

Measuring a cabochon or other large focal piece (like a crystal fancy stone) is something that both wireworkers and beadworkers need to know how to do. Whether you need to gauge how much wire to cut or how many beads to use, it can be a cumbersome chore as you bumble around with measuring tape or drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how many beads to stitch. But fear not! Just try this technique:

1) Cut a piece of masking or duct tape longer than the circumference of the stone. Trim one end so it's absolutely straight and roll the other end under.

2) Set the tape, nonsticky side down, on the work surface. Start rolling the edge of the cabochon on the tape at the straight end. The tape will stick to the edge of the cabochon, so you'll get a clean roll.

3) Continue to roll the cabochon until the tape meets itself.

3) Mark the spot where the tape end meets the body of the tape.

4) Measure the length on the tape.

5) Cut the wire to that length (or, if you're doing beadwork, stitch that many beads).

Isn't that a great tip? There are lots more like these in Dale's book, Wirework, which also includes a bonus DVD that includes a wealth of ideas for working with cabochons. Maybe you have some tips of your own? Please share them on Beading Daily.

Happy beading,


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