Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders teaches techniques not projects

Beautiful Wire Jewelry is Beautiful Eye Candy

I started out loving the book Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders: Creative Wirework Projects for All Levels.  I love the way it is organized. The introductory chapters are well documented, thorough but not overly detailed.  There are beautiful pictures of the jewelry projects throughout the book - and the author has a fantastic sense of color.   

But, when it came time to choose a project -  I didn't feel excited about choosing any of them.

Beginner Jewelry Projects

Appropriately enough, I started at the beginning.  The pictures look great, but the actual projects just didn't grab me.  There is not a single beginner project that I wanted to try making.  And it took me a while to figure out why - but I figured it out!

Do You Make Your Own Components? 

Well, if you don't, your projects may not come out as nicely as Irene's. 

I like the 'Cornucopia of Gems' project, which is basically bead cones with an assortment of dangles (fringe). You can use the technique in the book to create a pendant or earrings.  Irene's choice of bead colors in her projects is fantastic, which is one of the things that drew me in.  What turned me off though, was when I realized the cones she uses are probably made from metal clay.  That means she handcrafted the cones.  That also means the project  is going to come out very different using store-bought cones.

Similarly, the next project 'On the Vine', wires gemstones to a multihole pendant that is shaped like a leaf.  I am pretty sure the pendant is also metal clay, which means you aren't going to find anything like it for your project.  It is not something that is commonly available.  

The author, Irina Miech, is also the author of at least 3 books on metal clay.

I found it disappointing that I really couldn't make the same projects, but all books are different.  This jewelry book is more about teaching techniques than how to make a particular project.  Once I understood that, it made it easier for me to continue reading the projects and find something I'd like to try to make.

Intermediate and Advanced Jewelry Projects

In the intermediate section, the Zigzag rings project really caught my eye.  It's the first project I made.  However, I didn't use the instructions from the book.

It could just be me, but it seemed overly complicated the way you need to measure for the ring shank.  Then I was doubtful that I could hammer the shank flat and still curve it around the ring mandrel (without annealing the wire at least).  The project instructions just didn't compute for me.  So, I did what I thought was the author's intent.  I read her instructions, and then I winged it and made something like her ring.

I like that there are multiple pictures of different styles of the ring.  I found that very helpful when I decided to try this on my own.  It is another indicator that this book is about technique and variations - not about instructing you to make this project.

In the advanced section, I have my eye on two projects.  The 'Beaded Leaf' is a leaf pin with beads strung to a frame, and the 'Spiral Cuff' which is a cuff style bracelet with large gemstones wired to a cuff frame.  Both of these projects use the same technique of making a frame and attaching beads.  I have not tried either yet, but I may in the future.  When I do, I am pretty sure I will refer to the instructions and try doing it on my own.

Final Thoughts 

Once I figured out that this book was about techniques and eye candy, not instruction, I was less disappointed in the book.  However, I didn't really like that the projects appear to use components that are not commercially available and does not disclose that anywhere.  I think it would be very frustrating for a new jewelry maker who may have less experience than I do.  I recommend this book if you use your jewelry  books for inspiration.  If you are looking for instructions to make a project, I would pass this one by.

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