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Jewelry Making Book Reviews - Part 1

Book reviews for jewelry makers and silver smiths

If anyone has been following me for a while on Instagram @andiclarkejewelry or via my “Andi Clarke Jewelry” Facebook page, you may have seen me share that I had a skiing accident just before New Year which resulted in a broken leg. Surgery followed with doctor’s orders of being non weight bearing for 8 weeks and on crutches.

Well, my New Year’s plans for my jewelry business took a sudden 180 degree turn and I had to rethink a lot of them. While I was able to do limited jewelry making (from the bed or sofa) I wasn’t able to work at my work bench doing my usual forging and soldering. You can see why I need my workbench for these designs.

Hand forged sterling silver pebble pendants

Here is a design that I came up with in 2016 that features sterling silver wire wrapped pebbles and hand forged sterling hoops.

This is a broken china bracelet with upcycled china (chipped) that has a Tiffany style silver soldered setting. I can only do this work at my workbench which is definitely not broken leg friendly.

So what does an active person like myself do when confronted with physical limitations? Surprisingly, I didn’t watch all the possible episodes of “Downtown Abbey”. I used the time to work on my website store, started my blog, learned how to use Canva for great posters and researched new jewelry making techniques.

We are fortunate to live in an area that is part of a bigger library system, so one can often find exactly which book which one is looking for. So, you personally get to benefit from the multiple books I was able to read and then pick out my faves and review them for you. I’ll just be reviewing my two favorites in this particular blog post, but I have a part 2 with more. So look out for that one.

I wanted to research how to do more metalsmithing and silversmithing, particularly learning to bezel set, do hot connections (soldering), cold connections, make rings and creating patinas and textures on metals. I used to do pottery and clay work, so I also wanted to learn more about Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and how I could start incorporating this cool medium in my jewelry designs.

Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewelry Making

I’d have to put this book at the top of the list of books that I read for branching into metal and silversmithing. It had good photos for illustrating processes, techniques and tools. The reason that I liked this book the most (apart from feeling like I qualified for being a complete idiot and newbie for working with metal) is that Nancy Lee describes how to make tools from common everyday objects for different parts of fabrication in jewelry making. She also suggests alternatives to tools, for example using nail buffers from a beauty supply store that can be used as polishers for sterling silver to buff and shine after soldering.

Her writing style is very descriptive and comprehensive too. She also reviews what tools are needed for different things and I feel like I’m ready to start branching out into techniques such as sweat soldering and bezel setting. In case you are wondering what skills and equipment she covers in the book, it’s everything from metal stamping, cold connections, soldering, metal forming, forging etc and is very comprehensive. It was such a good book that even though I can get it from the library, it’s on my birthday gift list.

Another area I want to experiment with this year with in my jewelry making, is precious metal clays (PMC). These are “clays” with a high grade of gold, silver, bronze and copper. You form them in techniques similar to working with regular clay and you can fire them in a small kiln, with a propane torch or even over a gas range. (This does depend on which of the clays you are using though, but the book covers this well.)

I read a different book about working with PMC clays, and this one was definitely the best one of the two (this title is also on my birthday list). This book had superb photos of projects in process and tools needed to form jewelry, dry the clay, clean the fired metals and how to make them beautiful components of created jewelry. Sue Heaser also reviewed the different brands of precious metal clays and mentioned which ones could be used for different projects as well as firing methods and temperatures needed for each one. She also mentions everyday objects that can be used to form metal clay and making molds for forming shapes.

After reading both books, I was even able to work in my sketch book creating some ideas with some of the new skills that I want to incorporate in my work this next year. I feel like I know exactly what I need to order to start using the techniques from both of these books, in fact just this week I ordered some items to start my PMC creating journey. Now I just need to be able to walk properly on my recovering leg, but that’s a work in progress.

I hope that these book reviews have helped you. I will review three more in the next blog. Please share this with your friends who make jewelry, they may be inspired like I have been to try some new techniques.

(This post contains affiliate links which simply means if you click through and buy, I may receive a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you. Please note that I only endorse products that I’ve used and can vouch for).

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