Easy Wire Stone Capture: Make Woven Wire Bezels and Cages for Gems, Shells and More
"You can make anything with wire…It's just a fabulous, fabulous medium."
This line at the beginning of Janice Berkebile's new jewelry-making workshop, Easy Wire Stone Capture, sums up how I've been feeling about wire lately. It really is an incredibly versatile medium that can be used to make or do just about anything you want in jewelry making. And as Janice shows throughout her workshop, wire is also a great aid for incorporating gemstones–cabochons, both raw and faceted gems, and even polished rocks–in your jewelry creations…all without soldering a bezel! Because let's face it, there's more than one way to skin a cat, as my elders always say; and setting a stone or cab in a bezel and stringing gem beads aren't the only ways to incorporate gems in your jewelry designs.
I first got intrigued with the idea of "caging" gemstones when I saw Linda Larsen's Captured Objects necklace on the cover of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry (Feb/March 2012). It caught my attention first because I love the rustic look of it and the Roman glass in it, but you could use beach glass, river rocks and pebbles, broken beads, crystals–anything that's large enough not to fall through the cage. That includes gemstones! It's the perfect "setting" for a few rough, raw gem crystals, and the same idea could be modified to make a ring, earrings, or a bracelet.
So I added that project to the top of my to-do list. Not too long after that I got hooked on Mary Hettmansperger's Weaving Wire Jewelry video workshop, in which she teaches how to weave, coil, wrap, twin, and otherwise build dimensional wire shapes and jewelry using basketry and weaving techniques. I loved the crossover from weaving to jewelry making so much that I took her class at Bead Fest a few months later, but I still hadn't made the connection to build all those cool wire structures around gems. Until now!
Just in time for making the big, bold pendants that I like to wear on chains and cords in summer to dress up a plain tee, Janice is here with all kinds of ways to do that. My favorite is her Enchanted Lantern weaving technique (above, right) that creates a woven wire cage around a center-drilled stone. (It can also enclose several smaller gemstones. I love jewelry that moves and jingles, and there's opportunity for movement in this one, if you just ensure that the openings in the wire cage are all smaller than the stones you put inside.) Another fun one, her Woven Bezel Cage technique (on the right) creates "frilly" curls and filigree-like wire bezels ideal for cabochons.
So if you have some large stones you want to turn into pendants or some small ones that need caging, order Easy Wire Stone Capture: 4 Alternative Ways to Set Stones with Janice Berkebile (or download it instantly), for step-by-step tutorials on making wire bezels to incorporate gems, cabs, ammonites, and rocks (even glass, shells, and more) in your wire jewelry creations.
Bonus: Among other great tips, Janice shares how to estimate the amount of wire you'll need to make a bezel or cage using her techniques for any of your stones.