Have you ever wanted to create a bezel, or frame, around your polymer clay shape but weren’t really sure how to make it? Maybe you’ve wanted try your hand at resin jewelry but found commercially available pendant bezels are expensive (and all look alike anyway)?
Maybe making the bezel isn’t so hard for you, but making a smoothly domed cabochon in unique shapes has you scratching your head. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that made bezels and matching cabochons from polymer clay? Well that’s exactly what the line of CaBezel Molds are.
What Are CaBezel Molds?
A cabochon is the name for a flat-backed stone (or gem of some sort) with a domed surface. Cabochons are usually set into something called a bezel, which is sort of like a frame for the cabochon. Created by Wendy Orlowski of Art of My Clay, the CaBezel Molds are a tool which you can use with polymer clay to create both bezels and matching cabochons in a whole range of shapes and sizes.
CaBezels are sheets of plastic made from a clear photo polymer that’s soft like a texture sheet on one side (the clay side) and made of a fairly stiff plastic on the other (so you can press down easily). The idea is that you lay the CaBezel sheet over some polymer clay, press down, and create cabochons and bezels. There are two kinds of CaBezel molds, however, and they work a little differently, so I’ll explain them separately.
Original CaBezel Molds
The first CaBezels, and the original design, an Original CaBezel is a sheet that has several matching bezel and cabochon molds. There are many shapes, not just the circles and squares I have pictured here. There are egg shapes, organic shapes, shield shapes…lots of variety. And the sheets either have various sizes of the same shape or various coordinating similar shapes, allowing you to create a project with a range of finished beads or pieces that work together.
How to Use Original CaBezels
To create the bezel, you just spritz the sheet with water as a mold release, lay the bezel mold section over a thick sheet of clay, and then press down with the end of your acrylic roller (or other smooth, hard tool). Rub all around, pressing the CaBezel into the clay. Then lift the CaBezel and you have a bezel shape. Cut around it with a craft blade, smooth the edges, and bake.
To create the matching cabachon, just spritz the sheet with water, lay the cabochon mold section over two thick sheets of clay, then press with the acrylic roller as above. Remove the CaBezel sheet, then cut around the cabochon with your craft knife. You can then place your cabochon shape (raw) into your baked bezel and gently begin pushing the sides of the cabochon down to meet the edges of the bezel, creating a perfect setting.
You don’t have to use the cabochon to fill the bezel. You can use the bezels the same way you’d use any pendant tray, pendant bezel or bezel cup. You could add inclusions, resin, fill with assemblage or steampunk elements, or even use them as a base for collage. And have you seen the new Pebeo Fantasy Paints that people are using? CaBezels are perfect for making a frame to show off those paints as you can see in this picture by Ludmila Bakulina, a Russian artist. I don’t think Ludmila use CaBezels, but I’m sure how you can see right off how well they would work.
All of the CaBezel molds are also perfect for use with my Holo Effect Technique. Those of you who have purchased my Holo Effect Tutorial will see immediately how the CaBezels will help you make Holo Effect creations without having to buy pre-made bezels.
All-in-One CaBezel Molds
Wendy created the All-in-One CaBezel molds to be a bit more versatile by creating both the cabochon and the bezel at the same time. There is only one part to this type of CaBezel, and you can do it in one step. There are nine All-in-One CaBezel shapes, each one set in a square mold shape that are all the same size. You could very much use these tools to create tiles for a backsplash in your kitchen or a border in your bathroom.
How to Use the All-in-One CaBezel Mold
The All-in-One CaBezel is used similarly to the Original CaBezel molds. Just spritz it with water, lay it down on a sheet of clay, and press down with the end of your acrylic roller. Lift the sheet and you have a perfect square with a bezel and cabochon in the middle. The beauty of this type of sheet, though, is the varied ways you can take it from here.
And you can use these similarly to the Original CaBezels, too, in that you can cut out the heart shape leaving a “hole”. Back with another sheet of clay and you have an instant “cup” to fill with resin and other bits of interesting things such as assemblage parts, mementos, dried flowers, glitter, etc. You can also just make the heart shape and form a domed heart in the center by adding onto the top of the basic piece.
As you can see, you can use the Holo Effect in these CaBezels as well. By cutting out the center shape and backing the whole thing with another sheet of clay, you have a perfect “hole” for revealing the effect.
You don’t have to leave the outer area as a square. You can cut it down with a knife (as you can see with the heart in the center of the picture above). Or you could use a curved blade or a large cutter to create new shapes.
You can see Wendy’s video explaining how to use the All-in-One CaBezel mold here:
My Thoughts on CaBezel Molds
I was really thrilled with how many ways the CaBezel molds can be used. At first I just thought of the standard “cabochon plus bezel” idea. But then once I started working on them, my mind started to think of all kinds of ways to use them.
For one thing, you can modify the bezel shapes quite a bit before you bake it. Obviously, you can use tools to create texture, but you can also stretch the circles into ovals or the rectangles into curves. Because the cabochon will always be the right volume, you can easily shape them to match the altered bezels as well. So this means you really have a lot more organic variation than first meets the eye. Claire Maunsell says that they’re a great production tool that allows her to get on and make repeated shapes that are similar but not the same. You can see her CaBezel examples here. I agree with Claire about them being a perfect production tool even if you’re making them all alike, too. It’s easy to get a perfect result, one right after the next.
CaBezels are made of a clear material, so you can see exactly what you’re doing when you place them over a patterned sheet. No guessing like when you’re using rubber stamps on clay. And you can clean the CaBezel sheet with water and a mild soap, but only if necessary. Don’t use anything with ammonia in it, like window cleaner.
CaBezel molds are perfect for giving you lots of room for artistic expression. You can use paints, texture sheets, tools, inks, mica powders, etc, to embellish and customize every part of the cabochons and bezels. See above how I even added crystals to one bezel.
You can use any veneer (patterned sheet), or a cane slice, for your cabochon. However, be aware that the process of creating the domed cabochon involves stretching the veneer. I made a sheet of ink covered crackle for the designs in this article. You can see here how the section of sheet that’s been shaped to fit the bezels looks different from the original sheet. This isn’t a problem, necessarily, but it’s something you should factor into your design process.
Wendy recommends using water as a mold release for the CaBezel sheet. I suppose you could use talc or cornstarch, but I didn’t try it. Sometimes water isn’t a good choice if your veneer’s design is water soluble. And by the very nature of how CaBezels are formed, the sheet does come in contact with your patterned sheet of clay and can mar it.
I found that you have to have a steady hand and a sharp blade to trim around the clay shapes. This is very much an artist’s tool and not something that is completely fool-proof. I did have to waste a few before I got better at understanding the best way to cut the shapes. But it’s not difficult by any means. It just takes a bit of practice.
For more of Wendy’s videos explaining ways to use the CaBezel molds, have a look at her videos page on her website.
Are There Other Cabochon Molds?
I did a little search to see what else there was on the market. Sculpey has a set of cabochon and bezel molds, and I did compare them. I’ll write about them shortly, actually. But they are very different and are used differently. (The CaBezels are more versatile.)
There are lots of cabochon molds out there, but not very many bezel molds. And nobody else, that I could find, had sets of matching shapes like this, where the cabochon and the bezel match up. A good source of cabochon molds in all kinds of shapes is Best Flexible Molds by Penni Jo Couch. Penni Jo does have a sort of a filigree-looking bezel shaped mold. But come to find out, Wendy has made a special CaBezel sheet of just bezels that matches and works together with Penni Jo’s Almond Cabs and More mold.
Where to Buy CaBezels
You can buy the full range of CaBezels from Wendy’s store Shades of Clay. It’s a full-featured polymer clay supplier and resource, so make sure to check out the other offerings, too. Shades of Clay is in Canada, but they ship all over the world.
You can also buy the entire set of nine All-in-One CaBezels and a limited quantity special multi-pack of the Original CaBezels from Wendy’s Etsy shop.
Thanks to Shades of Clay
Many thanks to Wendy Orlowski of Shades of Clay for sending me the CaBezels to play with. I really enjoyed trying them out and I know I’ll use them again. In fact, now I want more shapes. They just make it so easy. As you all know, my reviews are always honest, regardless of how I received the products. Wendy also sent along some sealer called Final Coat, which I used to seal all the sample pieces I made for this article. It’s wonderful over mica powder…gives just the right feel. I’ll be exploring it some more and comparing it with other sealers in a future article.
Have You Seen My Tutorials?
Did you know that in addition to this website, I write polymer clay tutorials? Take a moment to check them out, see if any catch your fancy. I’d really appreciate it!