Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sustainable Jewelry, books review.

Sustainable materials, Found Objects, Non precious materials, Recycled Materials, Mixed Media....These are all 'hot topics' in the jewelry design world right now and have been for a while, from both a fashionable as well as conscientious point of view, with plenty of beautiful jewelry books out on the market to show for it. If you were to afford only one or two of the jewelry books on these subjects then which ones should you go for, which ones are right for you? Here I'm going to outline 5 of the current favourites that some of us have been talking about, so that you can make up your own mind. I personally own 3 of the titles, whereas the other 2 I have read but didn't buy,  because I already had 4 similar, not because they were lesser quality, these books are numbered in brackets ( ).

(1) The most 'academic' of the books on review here, this book thoroughly investigates the variety and depth of jewelry created under the challenge of working with sustainable materials as well as processes. What is unusual about this book is that it looks at the work which has been produced by different generations of jewellers, not just contemporary artists, pointing out that the interest in this field broke ground quite some time ago. There is also good reference to jewelers around the world, not just in the States. There are plenty of beautiful images of exciting and innovative work, much of which is more 'conceptual' than 'everyday wearable', perhaps because this book challenges using its visuals what can and could be sustainable, instead of presenting us with written essay. After all, it is invention which sparks off debate and further investigation. There is room for essay in this book, but it's present incarnation allows you to make you own enquiries and decisions on what is acceptable in terms of a wearable material (human hair?).

2. This book makes an excellent choice for those who make jewellery but perhaps haven't been doing it that long and have wondered about breaking away from the traditional materials and processes associated with jewellery. It really does start with the basics but still contains informative discussion and debate about the feasibility of making wearable jewellery by recycling materials first. Chapter 1 gives you a variety of opinions and insights from jewellers. Chapter 2 gives an overview of tools needed, Health & Safety points. Chapter 3 outlines a range of materials that fall into recyclable territory, particularly accessible to most people. Chapter 4 deals with techniques of joining and construction, giving illustrations and step-by-step techniques. Chapter 5 gives you a few step-by-step projects to follow for making jewellery, which produce simple and basic, undemanding items which although not to everyones taste, gives you a jump off point from which you can develop your own ideas.

3. Here is a book which covers a wide variety of materials, so that even seasoned jewellery designers should find information about using a material that they haven't previously explored. For example, in the section on rubber, as well as there being an explanation of the types, processes for working, methods of colouring, forming, fixing and finishing, there are also "creative ideas" and "tips" in the margins to refer to. An example of this is; "Using a sheet of acrylic, burr into it to create a pattern or texture, then carefully pour or paint the rubber onto the surface and leave to set" (creating a texture plate for rubber). The whole book is like this, with beautiful examples of work, processes and materials. The last chapter gives 5 Design Briefs complete with points to consider, sketches to get you thinking, extra questions to help your enquiry and tips for you to explore. Even experienced designers will find something here that sparks off new trains of thought.

(4). Another clear and concise book full of exciting images and ideas, with a similar emphasis as book 2 on broadening the horizons of jewellery making for those who have not yet ventured out of their recently learned territory of traditional techniques and materials.. Where this book is different to the previous 3 is that it has jewelry projects to follow that are broken down into ability levels of beginner, intermediate or advanced. For seasoned jewellers there will certainly be some fresh tips, whereas for novice and intermediate jewellers there is lots of instruction on, for example, how to solder, use equipment and develop ideas through materials exploration and the use of sketchbooks, showing plenty of examples of how other jewellers do this.

5. Of the books reviewed here, this one is the most appropriate for jewellers who are more interested in creating ideas by following very specific, step-by-step instructions. What this book does is present you with a scrummy selection of pieces for you to choose from and make. Each piece is made and project written by a different jeweller, all with different styles, processes and every conceivable type of material available to most people. There are liberal scatterings of contemporary jewelry to oggle at throughout the book and introductions to basic processes and tools, for a variety of materials as well as metal, which is something that most of the Lark Books include.

Please note that these reviews are not affiliated to any bookseller or publisher.

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