Friday, July 17, 2015

My First Book Review - Handcrafted Metal Findings

Please grab a cup/goblet of something wonderful, as this will be a long post!

As a mostly self-taught artist, I seek out both inspiration and how-to techniques from You-Tube videos, books and magazines.  I maintain subscriptions to 3 jewelry-related magazines (Art Jewelry, Lapidary Jewelry Artist, and Step by Step Wire), but I have my share of how-to books! (I also hoard cook books)!  A couple of weeks ago, I received my long-awaited copy of Handcrafted Metal Findings, by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson.  (You can order your copy here on Amazon or  here on Interweave Press, where an e-book download is also available now).  This book is a follow-up to their first book, Handcrafted Wire Findings (which I LOVE and refer to often)!

For the past couple of years, I have personally shied away from using any purchased findings (when I can) in my designs.  This includes ear wires, clasps, jump rings, connectors, components, chains (sometimes I make my own), and of course, artisan beads.  I have even made my fair share of hollow copper and sterling beads, just to keep my pieces "handmade" as much as possible.  This book arrived on my door step at a good time....I needed a kick in the creative pants, so to speak.

There are 30 techniques/components included in this book from Denise, Jane, and some of my favorite all-star artists, including:  Cindy Wimmer, Cassie Donlen, Kerry Bogert, and Keirsten Giles. I managed to eek out a few projects using some of the techniques illustrated throughout the book. But before I get to the projects, I wanted to point out some of the other benefits within this book.
  • There is an Essential Techniques section.  Let's face it - every book/magazine has basic instructions "i.e., how to make a wrapped loop".  This section includes much more than that - it is very detailed, in my opinion, and will come in handy for those who have not utilized any of the techniques included in these designs.
  • Some - NOT ALL - of the designs include a bit of soldering - but it is stressed that only a butane torch is required for any of those designs.  I ONLY use a butane torch in my work, as I am not too keen on the idea of storing gas tanks in my basement studio. A section related to soldering safety is included within the book.
  • There is also a Metal Glossary included in this book.  I remember the first time I read the term "hard metal"....I thought, isn't all metal hard??'s not!  This section is helpful if you have not worked with wire/metal.
  • The all-important Tools Glossary is also helpful with clear pictures of the tools.  I want to point out that if you don't have the tool mentioned - there are alternatives!  For example, if a technique or design mentions "stamping", and you do not have stamps to add a desired texture, use something else on hand, such as your hammer.
  • There is a page with templates for a few of the designs made from sheet.  I found the template to be particularly helpful in one of the designs, shown below.
Lastly, I want to mention that all of the opinions of this book stated here today are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid and have not received anything from the publisher/authors or anyone else related to the production of this book. 


The first technique I tried involved making these teeny tiny charms, by Denise Peck.  I think they give just the design element needed to make these earrings unique. Very simple to make - and the charms are textured to catch the light.  These would also be sweet if made in copper.  And the texture you apply - be it from a metal stamp or a hammer - truly makes these "one of a kind" to the design.

Next, I tried a connector link created by Cindy Wimmer.  Cindy will always be the Queen of Wire in my book.  Now, I will not lie to you - this design was a bit challenging for me, as I could not "master the technique" on the first go around.   But I was determined, as I really love the look of the connector link. I do not know where Cindy comes up with her beautiful designs, but I am glad she does! Anyway, here are my first attempts at creating her rosette link.

My first attempts were downright horrible!  Always practice with cheap wire (copper)!
I made the rosettes in copper, then made a couple of fold formed leaves in silver.  I even added a few of those teeny tiny sterling charms to the bottom.

I have a love/hate relationship making "action jewelry" - you know...movable parts that never stay put when you go to snap the photo....

I have been an admirer of Keirsten Giles' designs for a long time.  In fact, I could probably pick her work out of a crowd anywhere.  The earrings below feature Keirsten's Poppy Bead Caps.  I love these bead caps - I even used a coin to add texture to the metal (a technique shared by Keirsten).  I could very easily have added tiny little gems or beads to the bottom of the donut with waxed linen or cording, but I wanted to keep these simple to match the necklace.

Lovely artisan donut ruffle-shaped lampwork beads by Susan Kennedy

Inspired by Staci and the LMAJ Fiber Boot Camp, I used some gorgeous blue silk from Marsha Neal. The necklace features quite a few techniques offered in the book:  the twisted wire wrapped bail (Cindy Wimmer), the Poppy Bead Cap and Textured Tube (Keirsten Giles)

My favorite part of this necklace - if I had to choose a favorite - features a technique inspired by Denise Peck - the end cap to connect the silk to the chain.

Denise's design illustrates how to use strip wire to make this end cap.  But, I have a TON of copper tubing on hand, so I saved myself a soldering step and used that instead.  I topped the end cap with a tiny textured copper bead and called it "done".  I LOVE the clean look of this connector with the silk!

The last necklace features a design by Jane Dickerson for a bezel bail made from copper sheet (there is another bail design in the book that I want to try, as well).  Jane's example utilized a large donut-shaped gemstone. I had to scrounge in my stash to find a donut!  I had already used the only donut shaped beads on hand for the design above!  I find donut gemstones to be utterly gorgeous, but I have been dumb-founded to figure out a creative way to use them.

Let me tell you - that donut is not large - 7/8" round (22mm).  Jane's sample project features a donut bead that is approximately twice that size - 1.6" (40.5mm).  But a few alterations to the template (yes....math is involved), and I am pleased!!!

I did not want to use a commercial chain, so I wrapped up a few links.  Several hours later.....yes...hours...and I was done!

Even the back has texture - love it!

There are many more techniques that I am itching to try - ear wires (including studs!), head pins, bead connectors, toggle clasps,  more bead caps - and I am excited to get going!

Many thanks to Denise Peck, Jane Dickerson and the contributing designers for yet another book on my bench (it has not made it to the book shelf YET) that already has many pages dog-eared for future reference!

Thanks for stopping by today!!

Written by Patti Vanderbloemen for Love My Art Jewelry


sharon said...

Great review Patti and all of your pieces look fantastic! Thanks for sharing, I think this will be a must have for me!

stacilouise said...

great review! thank you for not only sharing that you liked it, but giving a breakdown of what we can find in it!!

Barb Fernald said...

Love this review Patti! Very concise. Looks like I'll be adding this one to my library!

Ann Schroeder said...

Your pieces are beautiful and really add to a great book review by letting us know what it's possible to learn.

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