Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guest Blog: Chasing the Elusive Bezel

Welcome guest blogger Judy Freyer Thompson, Crackerdog Design's Director of Operations and fellow reckless creator!

Bezels in Progress: Judy Freyer Thompson

Inspired by some of the lovely wearable art that seems to show up everywhere I look, I have had visions of bezels in my mind for a while now. I REALLY wanted to fill some bezels with stuff.  Cool stuff, statement stuff, hoo-haas and doo-dads and blingy stuff.  I perused them on line, but could not quite take that step to purchase.  

I figured I could make some simple bezels. Why not?  But how? I considered bezel wire.  Hmmm, don’t have any of that, and my feeble attempt at making one from a piece of sheet was just that... feeble.  But, I didn’t let that deter me.  I was determined to make a bezel!  Robert Dancik said a simple bezel could be made using pipe. Pipe! I just happened to have some old copper pipe that I rescued from my parents old barn before they cleaned it out. Couple that with a piece found on the street that must have fallen off a plumbers’ truck, and I was in business! I did have to make a small investment in a larger diameter pipe cutter, but that was it. 

1 - Using the pipe cutter, slice some ½” copper tubing and some ¾” copper pipe.  

2- De-burr the sliced ends.  Laying a file flat on your bench works great; run the pieces over the file until smooth. If you wish to shape the slices, use a pair of ring shank bending pliers.

3 - Pickle your pieces, including the copper backing sheet you’ll be soldering the slices on to. I use salt-saturated distilled white vinegar for my pickle. It is inexpensive and I always have ingredients on hand if I need make a new batch.  

4 - Solder the pipe slice onto the sheet stock.  Yay! Success at bezel making, the easy way!  

*One does not necessarily need a torch set up or even a charcoal soldering block.  I use an old brick and my hand-held butane torch.  I set them up on my stove directly under the exhaust hood.

5- Place the soldered pieces back into the pickle to clean them up after soldering. Rinse and dry.

6- Trim the base sheet stock. An isometric ellipses template comes in handy as a guide, but you can also eyeball it. Make sure you leave enough stock to punch a hanging hole or two.  If you want to use the bezel as a chain link, leave enough for a hole on either end; or you can use the second hole to hang dangles in a vertical position. 
7 - With a cross peen hammer, you can upset the top of the pipe to make it appear it was not pipe at all. This really adds an interesting texture.  

8 - They are ready to fill.  Fill them with resin, Faux Bone™, paper, concrete, glass or stone cabs…the sky is the limit! 

I'm off to play around with different finishing details such as powder coating, etching, a salt and ammonia patina, using alcohol inks for subtle color, or even coating the exterior with a glitzy nail polish! Visit my blog to follow my explorations.

Thanks for stopping by,


Note from Melissa: Thanks Judy! I already have a project in mind using this technique!!


  1. Oh, thanks ladies! I just learned about ice resin, so I'm looking forward to maybe trying this out!

  2. Great idea :) Need to look up the salt saturated vinegar pickle too.

  3. What kind of solder do you use for this?
    I love the salt-vinegar pickle. It works so fast. Also if you leave it ON the copper to dry you get instant blue/green patina.

    1. Judy Freyer ThompsonFebruary 23, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      I used your basic Sn63 electrical solder. I purchased mine from my local home improvement store. Since I am not looking to solder more components on to the bezels, this particular solder worked just fine for this application.

  4. This is exactly what I wanted to make my mosaic pendant bezels. I am so tired of getting generic commercial ones and I just love the look of this. Thanks so much for sharing this information!!!!