Top 10 Jewelry-Making Books from Interweave Editors
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ― Jorge Luis Borges
My mom likes to tell people that I started reading when I was just four years old, and the only way she could punish me as a youngster was to take my books away and make me go outside to play. It’s no wonder I found a way to make books a part of my career now in adulthood!
Today my Beverly Cleary and Ronald Dahl books have been replaced by (cough, cough, several hundred) craft books. My office shelves are packed with everything from pamphlets to compendiums, on every topic from soldering to knitting top-down sweaters.
With so many books to choose from, it’s difficult to pick favorites — or know which ones to buy! I gathered together my coworkers in the Jewelry Group and asked them to chime in on which jewelry-making books are their favorites, and why. We have tough jobs, but someone’s got to do them…
Interweave Editor’s 10 Favorite Jewelry Book
Enchanted Adornments: Creating Mixed-Media Jewelry with Metal Clay, Wire, Resin & More, by Cynthia Thornton
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to snag a copy of this beautiful book when it was in print, don’t despair! Thankfully, you can still enjoy it in digital format. The author, Cynthia Thornton, is a multi-talented artist who, in addition to making jewelry and jewelry components, also knits, crochets, makes dolls, and more. You’ll find a lot of Cynthia’s other artistic talents in this mixed-media jewelry-making book, a favorite of editor Tammy Jones. She uses metal, beads, fibers, resin, clay, and more to make stunning jewelry designs, and each one is paired with a fanciful story. For jewelry makers who like fantasy books or movies, who enjoy mixing techniques for more interesting designs, or who just love pretty jewelry — this is a must-have book!
Exploring Metal Jewelry: Wire Wrap, Rivet, Stamp & Forge Your Way to Beautiful Jewelry, by Tracy Stanley
Confession: this book makes my favorite list not only because of its awesome jewelry designs, but also because author Tracy Stanley is an amazing in-class instructor. She and I developed this book behind the scenes while teaching together on Bead Cruise, where her classes had again been packed with students. Combining Tracy’s unique jewelry style, gift for making jewelry techniques approachable and accessible, and clear step-by-step photographs for every design, you’ve got an awesome book. If you want to start dabbling in the basics of metal and wirework, while feeling like you’re right there in the classroom with Tracy, you need to grab a copy of Exploring Metal Jewelry.
The Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide: Tools and Essential Techniques, by Helen Driggs
As an editor, Karla Rosenbusch loves reference books. She always has a dictionary, a thesaurus, and lots of other references right at hand. When it comes to jewelry-making reference books, it’s The Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide that’s always close on her desk or near her workbench. With extensive information on just about every tool you could have in your studio and how to use it, it’ll be your go-to reference for jewelry-making tools and techniques too!
Making Metal Jewelry: How to Stamp, Forge, Form, and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs, by Jen Cushman
Published by Interweave’s sister imprint, North Light Books, under F+W Media, Jen Cushman’s Making Metal Jewelry is on Tammy J’s “favorite books of all time” list — and really high up there, too! Jen’s designs are the perfect mix of metalwork, mixed media, and found objects. Jen is a true artist with enormous talent for combining a variety of materials into beautiful work; that and her years of teaching jewelry classes helped make her book so unique, informative, and enjoyable. If you like metalsmithing but also like using other materials, like paper, fibers, resin, and more, you’ll love this book!
Metal Style: 20 Jewelry Designs with Cold Join Techniques, by Karen Dougherty
Editorial Director Merle White is a huge believer in understanding processes along with wedding them to results worth producing, and this is a perfect little package of that kind of how-to married to what-to for basic metalsmithing. Leading with the sage thought that “If you’re having a hard time getting work done, you’re probably using the wrong tools,” this nicely illustrated resource starts with the right tools and the right ways to use them for making metal jewelry parts and connecting them without using a torch. The 20 cold-join jewelry-making designs that follow were clearly selected as much for their aesthetic appeal as for their utility as practice projects. With designer/instructors like Thomas Mann, Connie Fox, Lisa and Scott Cylinder, and Robert Dancik, just to name a few, Merle says you’re guaranteed to learn effective ways of making metal jewelry and have fun wearing what you made.
Patina: 300+ Coloration Effects for Jewelers & Metalsmithings, by Matthew Runfola
Another reference book Karla loves is Patina. She’s a big fan of patinas on metal and loves to experiment with different colors, different metal, and different techniques. With over 300 patina recipes to use on a variety of different base metals, this book is a wealth of inspiration and useful information.
Resin Alchemy: Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists, by Susan Lenart Kazmer
Online editor Tammy Honaman is friends with Susan, but she promises that’s not one of the reasons she’s picked Resin Alchemy as one of her favorite jewelry books.
“It’s a book you can draw from no matter the project you’re working on. There are ways to solve connections, create new findings, and transform materials, and ideas for throwing caution to the wind. For those of us (and we know there are a lot of us!) who collect, save, and store those found treasures — do yourself a favor: get your copy of this book, set aside a day with your favorite finds, then get lost in the process of putting a design together using some of Susan’s techniques. You will soon have a wearable treasure you will feel great wearing!”
Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry: Techniques + Explorations, by Kate McKinnon
Merle loves jewelry surprises. As she brings to all her work, Kate McKinnon shares an imaginative eye and pleasing designs to this work. She also comes to it with an unexpected approach, describing the book as “a poem to the possibilities of pure, fine silver.” Yes, that’s right. Although the tools, techniques, demos, and designs set out in Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry are about making dimensional jewelry with metal clay, the spark behind it all are the advantages and possibilities of working with fine silver. If you want to learn how to make your own jewelry with metal clay, this is an excellent work, but even if you’re a traditional metalsmith devoted to sterling and sheet, this book will open your eyes and give you avenues well worth exploring.
Simple Soldering: A Beginner’s Guide to Jewelry Making, by Kate Ferrant Richbourg
Tammy H. really enjoys the unique way Kate Richbourg has of breaking down the steps to any technique. She feels she does it in such a way that you know you can do it. Kate’s intentions are clear, the goals well defined, the steps to get there — precise and understandable. In Simple Soldering, Kate gives you all you need to know about the materials you’re working with, how they work together, and what tools you need to get to the finish line. It’s all really attainable and even as a seasoned solderer, Tammy finds this book a great refresher after being away from her beloved torch for a while. Plus, this book has the added feature of a DVD! In this 6-minutes-shy-of-2-hours video, you get Kate all to yourself sharing her passion, techniques, and years of knowledge. With the book and video combined, you too will be soldering in no time or back at it with great confidence.
Wire Style 2: 45 New Jewelry Designs, by Denise Peck
Last, but certainly not least, on our Interweave Editors’ favorites list is another one of my personal favorites, Wire Style 2. I love compilation books that bring together the work of many different designers. The different styles, all shown working with the same medium, are just the jolt of inspiration needed when at a loss for what I should make on slow studio days. Flipping through Wire Style 2 and seeing projects by the likes of Connie Fox, Lisa Niven Kelly, and Cindy Wimmer get my creative juices flowing and I know they’ll do the same for you, whether you make the projects step-by-step or simply use the beautiful images as a jumping off point.
Interweave’s Annual Hurt Book and Overstock Sale is a great time to expand your library and your jewelry-making skills. For these books — check out the bundle we put together Editors’ Top 10 Jewelry Book Bundle and for other must-have books, hop over to the Jewelry Book category, now!
Editorial Director, Books
Expand your skills and your jewelry-making library with Interweave Editors’ favorite picks!