Best of the Best: Tips from Five-Star Rated Jewelry-Making Books
When I shop online, I’m kind of obsessed with the customer reviews. I find them a hugely valuable resource when I’m buying something new–dresses, moisturizer, books, chairs–whatever it is, I love hearing what other people think about it. I feel like it gives me an insight into the product that the business selling it couldn’t do–and from multiple points of view, which is a big bonus.
No surprise, then, that I love reading reviews of our own jewelry-making books, videos, and other products, too. A person’s skill level for a technique (or lack of) provides a unique and valuable insight into how well a product teaches a technique, and your customer reviews help me discover things I might have missed. So here’s to you, five-star products!–plus a helpful jewelry-making tip I learned from each one.
In Jen Cushman’s Making Metal Jewelry, you’ll get 17 metalsmithing technique lessons, 21 covet-worthy jewelry designs to make, and several QR codes that will lead you to how-to videos and extra projects. Jen’s book is loaded with metal and mixed-media jewelry-making projects and ideas that I want to make exactly as shown, so it’s no wonder it’s one of my favorite jewelry-making books ever.
It’s also where I learned the term “metal fibers,” which are wires balled on both ends. I love the idea of using wire like fibers (string, cord, ribbon) in jewelry making: wrapping it, coiling it, tying it, sewing with it, knitting or crocheting it, using it to tie or lash pieces of metal together. Jen takes that idea to a new level with her metal fibers.
“I decided to make extra metal fibers to cover up my early mistakes,” Jen says. “When I teach my workshops, I now have my students make metal fibers and keep them in their toolbox as metal boo-boo bandages. There’s not a lot in wire wrapping that a little metal fiber can’t fix visually.”
Helen Driggs’ book Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide is an all-encompassing metalsmithing resource that covers everything from metal basics to more advanced techniques like anticlastic raising, stone setting, and creating jewelry hinges, as well as great information about gemstones. Helen is an accomplished metalsmithing teacher and editor (of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine), so who better to write a perfect book about metalwork?
I especially loved Helen’s section on customizing a stock, straight-out-of-the-box bench pin. When I received my first bench pin in the mail, I wondered why it didn’t look more like the one I learned on. With Helen’s book, I learned how to make it suit my needs better, by drilling holes, cutting grooves and notches, sawing off edges, and more. It’s wood, after all, so customizing bench pins to our individual needs is easy–and practically necessary.
When Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson’s book Wire + Metal was released, it got tons of great praise from jewelry makers of all levels. Readers appreciated that the techniques were presented in logical order to build skills, that the book’s projects didn’t require a ton of expensive jewelry-making tools, and that though the projects were created for beginners, they sure didn’t look like it! All great reasons to love this popular book!
When adding patina to your metal and wire jewelry designs using liver of sulfur, it might seem logical that the longer you leave the product in the solution, the darker it will get. But that’s not necessarily the best way to patina metal. In Wire + Metal, Denise and Jane suggest dipping your metal or wire into the liver of sulfur solution, rinsing, dipping again and rinsing, repeating until you achieve the desired patina. That’s just one of the things I learned from this great book! (See more love for Denise and Jean’s book.)
Get these and many other five-star products for only $5–but hurry, this sale ends at midnight tonight!