The Fabulous 5: Tammy's Favorite New (and Inspiring) Jewelry-Making Products

Tammy Jones editor Jewelry Making Daily  
Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making  Daily.


Didn't we agree we were going to do more silversmithing projects this year? Today January is officially over, and I haven't made a single piece of silver jewelry. I've been savoring all the amazing jewelry designs and gemstones in Tucson for a couple of days now, and I've bought several gemstones that I'm anxious to design silver jewelry pieces around. So, I spent a few minutes looking through the Interweave Store to get some inspiration and give myself a little kick in the skirt.


Well, it worked! I found great new jewelry-making books and magazines, special issues, collection CDs, and instructional DVDs to inspire me to get busy. I've already started sketching and making notes about the silver jewelry projects I want to make. Here are a few of the great new products that are inspiring me:

Mixed Media: Personalized Jewelry – Capturing Memories in Handmade Details DVD by Jean Campbell
Since I met Jean last autumn and saw some of her gasp-inducing vintage-style Swarovski crystal jewelry designs in person, my ears perk up whenever I hear or read her name. Her style and taste is similar to my own, so I find myself wanting to make nearly every project of hers that I see. I also love using personal items, antiquities, and found objects in my jewelry making, so her mixed-media DVD is perfect for me. It features seven projects and a full hour of inspiration and instruction.

Being a long-time crafter, I enjoy her work even more because she incorporates unique jewelry-making supplies such as resin, paper, photos, travel ephemera, and rubber stamps–some of it even feels like scrapbooking or collage jewelry. The marketing info for her DVD says it will help you turn "mementos into masterpieces." Sign me up!


The Jewelry Architect: Techniques and Projects for Mixed-Media Jewelry by Kate McKinnon
I'm just going to say it: I think The Jewelry Architect is my favorite jewelry-making book ever. It's a perfect blend of silversmithing with other silver jewelry-making techniques (like stringing, wire, beading, and my beloved metal clay). The sixteen one-of-a-kind, mixed-media jewelry projects are whimsical but also stylish and distinctive enough to be considered gallery-quality art jewelry.

Every page of The Jewelry Architect speaks to me and inspires me. I started putting little reminder tabs on the pages of projects I wanted to try until I realized I was putting a tab on every single page! I'm especially drawn to the ring findings. I love rings, and Kate offers two handcrafted silver metal clay ring options, a rivet post ring and a wrap band ring, both of which allow you to make your own customized ring shank to highlight a lampworked glass, gemstone, fabric, or other bead of your choice. In fact, Kate says the rings can "accommodate almost any ornament with a hole." Unlimited pretty cocktail rings? Yes please!


Metalsmith Essentials: Basic Fabrication DVD by Helen Driggs
Every time I talk to Helen, I learn something new. That's why I was so happy when I learned that she was making a series of metalsmithing DVDs, because now everyone can have that same good fortune and benefit from Helen's metalsmithing expertise.

This DVD set features nine lessons in two hours, including information about different types of metals (such as copper, brass, and silvers) and how to best use them in your jewelry-making projects. She also takes you step by step through how to fabricate metal jewelry pieces–forming, forging, filing, hammering, sanding, and more. Learn about measuring metal, following sawing patterns, finishing tips, texturing and stamping techniques, and other basic metal fabrication skills.

Helen's DVD is both a great introduction for new silversmiths and an excellent resource of technique reminders and pro bench tips for anyone who enjoys silver jewelry making. Watching Helen's Metalsmith Essentials DVD set is like having a private one-on-one silversmithing workshop with a master metalsmith. Who wouldn't love that?


Contemporary Copper Jewelry by Sharilyn Miller
I don't like orange and I don't care much for brown–so why am I so drawn to copper? I've been in love with sterling silver all my life, but lately I've come to realize how warm and soft copper is; it's like the metal that's not really a metal. Copper takes on such beautiful patinas as it ages and wears, which is ideal for jewelry.

Sharilyn's book features twenty-two projects created by her and some of the best jewelry artists in the industry, including Dale "Cougar" Armstrong, Eugenia Chan, Richard Salley, and Rachel Nelson-Smith. Bonus: Contemporary Coppery Jewelry comes with a wireworking basics DVD, too. In addition to the inspiring copper projects, I've also learned two great wireworking tips from Contemporary Copper Jewelry: One, remember to coil or loop wire before you forge or texture it, because hammering it to add texture will work harden the wire and make it hard or nearly impossible to curve. The second wire tip is to avoid over-forging wire because it can become brittle, especially on the edges. I had no idea!


The Best of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry 2010 and Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry 2008 CD Collection
I keep saying that I don't do wire jewelry, but every time a new issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry or The Best of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry issue arrives, I have an epiphany. I've been guilty of having a narrow view of what wire jewelry is, thinking it just wasn't my thing, but these magazines do a superb job of showing me otherwise!

 Even as long as I've been making jewelry, I'm still amazed at what the designers in Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry are able to create with wire. The five-minute wire jewelry projects in the back of each issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry are my favorite part; they're so simple, stylish, and handy to have on file, I hope that we someday publish a whole book of them.

That should be enough to get you started. I'm heading back to the gem shows to do some more shopping and be inspired by all that's new in jewelry–you can do the same in the Interweave Store!

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