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Bezel Setting Gemstones in Metal Clay: Review of Lisa Barth's "Designing From the Stone"

Margaret Schindel is a jewelry artist and internationally known expert on metal clay techniques. PMC certified in 2006 by Celie Fago.

For this pendant, Lisa extended the distinctive patterns in an ammonite fossil cabochon stone onto the backplate of the silver metal clay bezel setting.

For this pendant, Lisa extended the distinctive patterns in an ammonite fossil cabochon stone onto the backplate of the silver metal clay bezel setting.

Book by World-Renowned Artist

Lisa Barth is a world-famous metal clay and wire jewelry artist, a sought-after teacher, and a talented author who is best known for her unique gemstone bezel settings in metal clay jewelry. She is highly respected and admired both by her students and by other jewelry designers and clients who appreciate the artistry in her fine wearable art jewelry.

In her book Designing From the Stone, Lisa shares her considerable expertise, techniques, and unique approach to designing bezel set metal clay jewelry with metal clay artists who are unable to attend one of her classes and workshops in person. And she writes just the way she teaches in person, in a clear, easy-to-understand and supportive manner that will have you making your own one-of-a-kind gemstone bezel settings for your metal clay jewelry.

Gemstone Patterns Inspire Bezel Setting Designs

Lisa's unique approach to designing gemstone jewelry in metal clay is using the stone itself as inspiration for the jewelry design. Hence the book's straightforward title and subtitle, Designing From the Stone: Design Techniques for Bezel Setting in Metal Clay Using the Stone as Inspiration.

Sometimes the patterning in a particular gemstone will inspire an echoing or related texture on the metal surrounding the bezel-set stone. Other times, a stone evokes a particular visual association. A great example of this is the pendant on the book's cover; the stunning labradorite cabochon reminded Lisa of the ocean and inspired the unusual and clever bezel setting with an adorable silver turtle poised to enter the water.

After seeing three different examples of the entire process end-to-end, you'll be ready to apply everything you've learned to your own bezel set silver metal clay jewelry designs inspired by your gemstones.

Note: All the projects and bezel setting techniques in the book are designed for use with fine silver metal clay. They also can be adapted for use with sterling silver clay, but the increased shrinkage of the sterling silver metal clay could create challenges.

Bezel set Swedish Blue stone silver pendant

Bezel set Swedish Blue stone silver pendant

Beautifully Illustrated Step-by-Step Instructions and Pro Tips

As a metal clay artist myself and the former Senior Editor and Technical Editor of Metal Clay Artist Magazine (now online as Creative Fire), I am fortunate to know Lisa both personally and professionally. She sincerely cares about making sure her students are successful, and that desire is evident in the clear and detailed information and expert tips she shares in this book.

In this book, Lisa shows how to make each custom bezel using tabbed fine silver bezel wire to ensure the bezel is securely and permanently embedded in the metal clay backplate. She is a fantastic teacher, both in person and in print. Reading this book is the next best thing to attending one of her highly sought-after metal clay bezel setting classes.

Design and Metal Clay Fabrication Tips

Lisa explains how to analyze a gemstone cabochon's shape, texture and color and think about which features you love most about the stone. Then she shows you how to emphasize those elements in your metal clay bezel setting and backplate design.

Easy-to-Follow, Step-by-Step Instructions

She also takes you through how to make and use paper templates, work in layers and extend the design harmoniously from the front to the back for a design that is unified when viewed from any angle. She also addresses the importance making the bail, if there is one, an integral part of your jewelry design.

You'll learn how to mold placeholders for your stone from jeweler's investment to ensure that your bezel will still fit the stone perfectly after it has been kiln fired in the silver metal clay.

You'll also learn how to fire, finish and add a liver of sulfur patina to your piece and, finally, how to bezel set the gemstone and customize the fit to the stone if necessary.

Two Master Classes in One Book

This book is more than just a master class in creating custom silver bezel settings for metal clay jewelry with world-renowned teacher Lisa Barth; it's also a master class in jewelry design.

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Lisa goes into the elements of design: color properties, color associations, color theory, line, shape, texture, form, value, and space. She also explains the principles of design: balance, emphasis, repetition, contrast, movement, rhythm, and unity.

Step-by-Step Projects to Inspire Your Own Design

Complementing all this educational material are three detailed, step-by-step projects that help you integrate and translate all the different techniques, design principles and lessons from the book into your own one-of-a-kind, wearable art, precious metal and gemstone jewelry designs.

Unique Gemstone Jewelry Bezel Set in Metal Clay

Lisa also is a terrific photographer and she kindly gave me permission to include some of the photos of her bezel set gemstone metal clay jewelry in this article to give you an idea of the types of jewelry you'll be able to design and create after reading her book.

Photo credits: All photos of her work are copyright Lisa Barth, all rights reserved, and are used with her permission.

Wonderful Guide for Teaching Jewelry Techniques

"Designing From the Stone: Design Techniques for Bezel Setting in Metal Clay Using the Stone as Inspiration" by Lisa Barth is not only one of the best metal clay jewelry books I've ever read, it's also one of the best jewelry making and design books I've ever read, period.

Whether you're a metal clay jewelry artist or someone who is interested in designing and creating beautiful, professional jewelry using fine silver metal clay, bezel wire and gemstone cabochons, this book is a must-have for your metal clay and jewelry making library.

Learn More

I've written a comprehensive and detailed guide to setting gemstones in metal clay that covers a wide range of different stone setting techniques including bezel, gypsy, layered and other settings for stones that can be fired in place and for those that must be set after firing.

© 2013 Margaret Schindel

Do you want to learn to make silver jewelry from metal clay using Lisa Barth's bezel setting techniques?

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 24, 2014:

Thanks, Sandy! I adore Lisa's work. It's even more beautiful when you see it in person. And she's very thorough with her explanations of her techniques so that others can use them successfully to make their own stone-inspired metal clay bezel settings for their gemstone jewelry designs.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on September 24, 2014:

Wonderful review. The jewellery is interesting and beautiful.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

Thank you, Gayle. You'll LOVE Lisa's book. Her lessons on the elements and principles of design are as valuable as her unique approach to designing bezel settings. Thanks so much for your visit and your comment!

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on September 23, 2014:

Great review Margaret. This is a book on my "to-get" list now. I've always wanted to try bezels with metal clay.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2014:

Thanks very much, Barbara! I can't take credit for the jewelry, though - that's all the work of my talented jewelry artist friend Lisa Barth. :)

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on September 22, 2014:

Margaret, another gorgeous page and update - the jewelry is beautiful - you sure are an expert at your craft

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on October 07, 2013:

@a2article: Thank! Glad you enjoyed the article.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on October 07, 2013:

@PriyabrataSingh: So glad you enjoyed these metal clay gemstone setting techniques and Lisa Barth's wonderful book!

a2article on October 07, 2013:

impressive. i like the way.

PriyabrataSingh on October 07, 2013:

Great work and i love the magic behind the art of perfection.I will try some.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on October 06, 2013:

@Susan Zutautas: Thanks so much, Susan! If you ever decide to try creating metal clay jewelry, let me know. I'd be happy to help you get started! :D

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 06, 2013:

Beautiful pieces! I would love to try my hand at this craft.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on October 03, 2013:

@SusanDeppner: Thanks so much for your lovely and kind comment, Susan! I really appreciate it. If you ever decide you want to give jewelry making a try, just let me know and I'll be happy to help you get started in the medium of your choice. :D

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on October 03, 2013:

Great review and amazingly gorgeous jewelry! I'll leave the jewelry making to the artists, though it might be fun to give it a try!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on October 02, 2013:

@hgb282: So glad you enjoyed this introduction to metal clay, hgb282! I've written many other lenses about creating metal clay jewelry that you might be interested in looking at. Thanks so much for your kind comment and your visit! :)

hgb282 on October 02, 2013:

Beautiful jewelry. Very artistic medium. I had never heard of metal clay before so I googled it. "Metal clay first came out in Japan in 1990".

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 29, 2013:

@jura: Thanks, jura! I hope you have a wonderful time trying these shoe painting and embellishment techniques. :)

jura on September 29, 2013:

Great lens I will try some of a technicks

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 27, 2013:

@lewisgirl: Thanks so much, Lewisgirl! I hope it inspires you to try some of Lisa's wonderful techniques to make your own unique bezel-set gemstone silver jewelry designs. :D

lewisgirl on September 27, 2013:

Very inspirational!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 27, 2013:

@kislanyk: Thanks so much for your kind feedback, Marcia! Lisa is just awesome and, as you know from her wire wrapping tutorials, she's also a terrific teacher. Just let me know when you're ready to get started with metal clay. I'd love to be of help! :D

Marika from Cyprus on September 26, 2013:

A great review Margaret, I love Lisa's work and I've done several jewelry pieces from her wire wrapped turorials. Granted, I haven't started yet with metal clay, but it's something I'm looking forward to learning. As I'm looking forward to her new wire wrapping book based on her now famous bracelet. Hurry up Lisa! :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 26, 2013:

@Gypzeerose: Rose dear, what a truly lovely compliment!!! Big hugs to you!!!

Rose Jones on September 26, 2013:

As you probably know by now, I am one of your greatest fans. I always like to come to see what you are up to even if I will never try the craft. Pinned to my board "Crafts I love."

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 25, 2013:

@CrazyHomemaker: Thanks so much for your feedback, CrazyHomemaker! I'd love to see your jewelry some time. :D

CrazyHomemaker on September 25, 2013:

Yes I would! I make a boho style jewelry and chain maille jewelry. I love 'playing' (as I tell my hubby) with my stones and metals.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 25, 2013:

@Diaper Bag Blog: Thanks so much, stajo82! I really appreciate your kind comments on my review of Lisa Barth's wonderful book, Designing From the Stone.

Stanley Green from Czech Republic on September 25, 2013:

Superb ... I love gemstone jewelry presented here... And you have really nice pictures ... thumbs up !!!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 25, 2013:

@Diana Wenzel: Thank you so much for your very kind comments, D.! Lisa is not only an incredible artist and teacher but also a very sweet lady who is modest about her creative gifts. I'm delighted that I could introduce you to her work! :D

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on September 25, 2013:

Exquisite! I want that turtle bezel piece featured on the book cover. Stunning works of art. Thank you for introducing me to this extremely talented artist. Wow.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 24, 2013:

@Lorelei Cohen: Hi Lorelei,

I'm betting you could make some terrific gemstone jewelry, given your love of rocks and gemstones and your artistic eye! Fine silver metal clay is a wonderful jewelry material that allows you to create nearly any design you can think of even if you don't have prior metalsmithing experience. Please PM me any time if you'd like to know more about creating silver jewelry from metal clay set with natural or manmade/lab gemstones. :D

Lorelei Cohen on September 24, 2013:

I love gemstones. When I was a kid my greatest wish was for a rock tumbler but a gift that was not to be realized. I still enjoy rocks and gemstones but have never tried my hand at making anything from them.