Merle's Top 7 Holiday Gifts for Jewelry Makers

Merle White
is editor-in-chief
of Lapidary Journal

Jewelry Artist
  December 2010 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist
Just out, the December 2010 Lapidary Journal
Jewelry Artist
issue is my favorite of the moment.

My favorite is always whatever I've just discovered. I still love the old standbys and classics and would never give them up, but when I come to something interesting or exciting that I haven't seen before, it just blows everything else away . . . until the next new thing comes along, that is.

Here are a few of my most recent favorite jewelry-making resources. Add them to your holiday wish list and make things easy for your family and friends, or wrap them up and send them to the jewelry makers on your holiday gift list and make things easy for yourself. Or both!

1. Silver, Resin, Soldering, and More
My favorite issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, for instance, is the one that just came out, with a special focus on silver jewelry making, a special resin section, a colorful new "jasper" (that's probably marble), and the first part of our new series on soldering jewelry. It's full of wonderful designs, technical tips, and also includes basic gem carving, plus diamond setting with metal clay, which has seldom if ever been managed before!

Atlantasite Serpentine Pendant  

I love the lime and purple color scheme of
the handmade necklace on the August cover
of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.


2. Exotic Gems, Micro Torch, Jump Rings
Then again, I keep going back to the August 2010 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, because I can't take my eyes off the cover, featuring one of the prettiest necklace designs I've seen in ages. I love its lime, purple, and lime-and-purple gems, each in its own neat bezel setting.

Plus, if I do say so myself, I think we broke real ground in this issue's feature on how micro torches are being used in jewelry making—we're still getting letters about it—and I know the megaguide to jump rings attracted almost as much attention as the micro torch story. 

  Metalwork: Making Bezels for Stones and Found Objects

Small handheld torches are great for fusing
fine silver or Argentium Sterling Silver wire,
but they can also be used to make traditional
soldered sterling bezels.

3. Micro Torch for Jewelry Makers
If you want to learn more about what kinds of jewelry making you can do with a micro torch, I recommend Denise Peck's new DVDs, Metalwork: Fusing and Other Micro-Torch Techniques and Metalwork: Making Bezels for Stones and Found Objects.

Although there are definite limitations on the size and gauge of pieces you can create using the limited firepower of this borrowed technology, you might be surprised at just how much you can accomplish with a micro torch or when it may be preferable to a traditional torch.

The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques  
The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques
covers the range of metalsmithing techniques.

4. Full Range of Metalsmithing
Which of course brings up that very piece of equipment, the jeweler's torch, and the much wider world of jewelry design possibility that it opens up.

There are many excellent books on traditional jewelry metalsmithing, but one of the newer ones that I find interesting is The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young. It's comprehensive, well illustrated, and packed with useful information that make it a handy reference for beginner and experienced jewelers alike.

Some highlights of this jeweler's resource include a complete and extensive illustrated tool directory, an in-depth materials reference guide, even some helpful tips about working with gemstones.

  10 Cold Connected Jewelry Projects
Learn to make rivets and other ways to
assemble metal jewelry parts without soldering.

5. Cold Connections, Too
Used alone or in combination with traditional soldering, cold connections are kind of like the architecture of the Pompidou museum in Paris: The structural workings are exposed and have to be incorporated into the design aesthetic.

Cold connections make a great entry point for making metal jewelry, but what I love about these techniques are the design challenges they provide. Some of my favorite cold-connection jewelry designs are in the downloadable eBook Best of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist: 10 Cold Connected Jewelry Projects.

Another great feature about the projects in this book is their variety, including materials such as bone, fossil ivory, papier-mache, and resin. You'll find projects using brass, aluminum, and steel, as well as traditional jewelry metals like copper, bronze, and silver.

Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry Techniques + Explorations
Learn to push the boundaries of this material
by using metal clay as a sculptural medium.



6. 3-D Metal Clay
Like cold connections, much of metal clay's appeal is in the fact that you don't need a torch to work with it, but also like cold connections, metal clay offers its own design possibilities.

What I like about Kate McKinnon's book-and-DVD combo, Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry with DVD: Techniques + Explorations, is how she focuses on taking advantage of the clay-like properties of this medium to create sensational 3-D designs—and she shows you how to create successful 3-D jewelry with metal clay yourself.

  January 2010 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

The January 2010 Gem Issue of Lapidary Journal
Jewelry Artist
is packed with stone setting
techniques and affordable gemstones.

7. Stones!
Because I really love stones, though, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist's annual special Gem Issue is always among my favorites. Right now we're deep at work on one, in fact, which focuses on absolutely amazing designer gems—even techniques to create your own carved gems using jeweler's tools (it won't be out for another month).

But I also adore the January 2010 Gem Issue, with its pages of affordably priced, way cool cabochons; a whole section on using silver-in-quartz as a gem, taking design advantage of its random, spidery patterns instead of crushing it like an ore to extract the silver; and an entire suite of stone setting techniques from basic bezels to custom settings for unusual cuts.  

But that's me. I love stones and I love what's next. Tell us what your favorites are in the comments below!

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