Monday, December 13, 2010

A few books (for your Holiday wish list perhaps...?)

Last week, Lark Books sent me some jewelry books for review (nice blogger fringe benefit). Lark does a wonderful job with craft books so I was thrilled to get them. The titles had been recently re-released in paperback but they were all new to me. Three of them stood out - and one of those was actually on my Amazon wish list...

I think that Joanna Gollberg's The Art & Craft of Making Jewelry is great reference book. This is a book on traditional jewelry making and includes a section on metal clay - which you know I'm always happy to see included in such a book. She covers a wide variety of essential jewelry techniques with great photographs and step by step instructions. And each section includes a beautiful gallery with inspirational images from many of the top jewelry artists working today.

As a metalsmith, I found this book very approachable and the photos clear and helpful. I think the basic instruction provides enough information for a beginner to understand the techniques, though it might be a stretch for a total beginner to complete some of the projects. The techniques have step by step photos, but the project pages only show an image of the finished piece and the steps are simply described. Since the book is not presented just for beginners, but rather a "complete guide to essential techniques," it is well suited to anyone wanting a technique overview and project ideas that will help them gain experience. Granulation is one example of a technique that is appropriate for someone with intermediate to advanced metalworking skills. I know that many who are reading this blog are metal clay artists, so if you're adding metalworking skills to your repertoire, I definitely recommend this book.

One thing that struck me about Making Metal Beads by Pauline Warg, was that some of the beads could easily have been completed in metal clay. This is another excellent book that offers thorough instruction and great step by step images of the techniques used for the beads. It also includes beautiful gallery images. As promised, it's full of "Techniques, Projects, (and) Inspiration."

Right away I noticed an image (page 10) that showed sheets of textured metal with areas cut out (presumably used for the beads), which is exactly what I often use to describe one of the advantages of metal clay. Here the author is left with textured "scrap," when that same texture could have been applied to metal clay without the waste. If metal clay were used, the excess would have been gathered up and reused... (hey, just getting in a plug for an appropriate use of metal clay!)

Of course, not all of the beads could be made as easily in metal clay. Many require the use of traditional metalworking techniques. And the basic techniques necessary to accomplish these beads are well illustrated and explained in detail - from sawing to soldering - making this book good for a beginning jewelry student. But it's not just a beginner's book, there are some rather complex beads, including intricate beads using cold connections, as well as pierced, pressed, fused beads and more. There are some beads which are cleverly designed and constructed using commercial tubing in both traditional and non-traditional ways. If you're interested in new ideas for making metal beads, this book will get you off to a great start.

This was the book on my Amazon wish list - The Complete book of Glass Beadmaking by Kimberley Adams. What a nice surprise to find it in the box! I like making enameled beads with a torch and playing with molten glass... and once I made a true lampworked bead with instruction from a friend - it was a little wobbly - but I've always wanted to try again. After looking online and comparing reviews for several glass bead making books, I put this on my wish list because it clearly came out on top.

Now that I've had a chance to look it over, I know I would have been happy if I had ordered it. The instruction and photography are so clear I feel like I could really be successful by following along. There are loads of inspiring photos in the galleries too - and I even found beads made by people I know which is always fun (but more likely in the metals books). This review may be of limited use because I'm not a glass bead maker, but from what I could see it had everything I might need to know. It covered not only materials and safety, but lots of variations on beads - enough to keep you interested for a while. Plenty of experienced people have given this book favorable reviews and confirmed that it's great for beginners. Sometimes a book that claims to be the "complete book of" really isn't... but as far as I can tell, this is the real McCoy.

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