Monday, September 14, 2015

Back to the Books!

My favourite time of the year: back to school. Even though my school days are long gone, I still feel that sense of excitement that September brings. It's my true New Year with new beginnings and the urge to learn. There are lots of great fall classes to sign up for at Beadfx for that unique, person to person learning experience, but sometimes you want to explore on your own to learn techniques, be inspired or brush up on something you've already learned.

For me, books are a big part of school and learning. In my blog posts I often reference web sites, You Tube videos and other media as support material, but today I thought I'd go back to the books, and back to basics, and list a few of my favourite print resources and inspirations. Many of these books are by ladies I call my friends, and from whom I've taken classes and learned a lot. But their books are always close by for my reference. If you haven't taken classes with them, you should. If you can't, these books are a great stand-in.

Heat, Color, Set & Fire by Mary Hettmansperger sits on a side table in my livingroom (and sometimes migrates to that other reading room). It is jam-packed with tons of ideas for colouring metal in so many different ways, along with projects that are out of the ordinary. When I need inspiration I turn to this book first and constantly. Patina by fire (a class I'm teaching later this fall), etching, pencils, enamels: all of these techniques and more are explained and illustrated in Mary's inimitable style.

If you've never soldered before, or need a refresher, you must get Kate Richbourg's Simple Soldering. You will be making easy, fun and wearable projects in no time if you follow her book front to back. Her series of exercises have you practising and building on the skills she teaches.

If you know me, you know I love wire, and steel wire in particular. Brenda Schweder's Steel Wire Jewelry is an inspirational and practical book that offers projects that are unusual and sculptural in nature.

I'm so pleased to have contributed, in a small way, to Marilyn Gardiner's new book Modern Chain Mail Jewelry: Chic Projects to Complete Your Look. It serves as a comprehensive resource of weaves and uses clean, modern designs to showcase these weaves while incorporating elements such as lampwork beads and raku pottery. This one is an instant classic!

Enameling Made Easy by Anat Silvera will take you beyond basic torch fired enameling and it offers great tips to get creative with colours and other inclusions. The package also includes a DVD so you get a two-for-one with this purchase. I haven't taken a class with Anat, but I feel like I have after reading the book and watching her DVD!

For a truly drool-worthy resource book on foldforming, you need to go straight to the creator of the technique: Charles Lewton-Brain. Charles' book Foldforming is such an amazing resource. It is light on instructional content, but heavy on beautiful photos of works done using this sculptural technique in a vast array of sizes and materials.

There are tons of great resource books for seed beaders too by inspiring women like Rachel Nelson-Smith, Diane Fitzgerald, Jill Wiseman and Kate McKinnon, to name a few. I own them. But since I'm a metal and wire girl at heart, the books I turn to most often are the ones I've listed above.

If you have a favourite beading or metal or wire book that you find inspiring or that has great instructions, please list it in the comments below so others can support the great teachers and writers we have in our jewellery community. Here's to a great Fall!

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