Friday 8 September 2017

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt

How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects
by Mary Helt
published by Pavillion Books, 2017
160 pages

Book Review - How to Make Jewellery by Mary Helt - SilverMoss Jewellery Blog

One Line Review

A wide-ranging introduction to making jewellery with beads of various materials is a little let down by a lack of photographed instructions.

First Impressions

The cover of this book is rather excellent and easily persuaded me to pick it up. It's bright and fresh with muted colours of turquoise, terracotta, and white and a well-designed title graphic that is nicely integrated with the photo used. This led me to feel the book was modern and vibrant and the layout and designs within would, hopefully, be the same. On picking the book up and flicking through its pages the layout looked pretty traditional for this kind of project book but the vibrancy seemed carried through into the photography and the designs themselves.

At The Start

The Contents page is simple and text-based, and shows that the book contains designs based around sections on Stringing, Wire Wrapping, Polymer Clay, Textiles and Advanced Techniques. Each section contains five different designs.

Following this is a brief Introduction from the author and then a section on Tools and Materials, which covers Basic Equipment and includes information on and photos of the tools needed for each section of jewellery making covered in the book. The photos are a nice touch but would be more helpful if the individual tools pictured were numbered and related more clearly to the text.

In the Middle

Each section has a few pages of techniques at the start of it. For example, the section on Wire Wrapping has photos and instructions on making different types of loops, and the section on Textiles goes into detail on needle felting, embellishing, and making crocheted-covered beads.

The projects that follow are labelled as easy, intermediate or advanced and a mixture of all are included in each section.

A list of materials required is clear and simple to follow. The instructions for each project are in the text and, whilst these are detailed, they are hampered by having no photos displaying what is being described for each stage. Instead the only photograph for each project is one or two showing the finished piece. This is a little unfortunate especially if the book is being used by a beginner, but I always find photos or images of the 'making of' stages of individual projects are exceedingly useful.

It's worth saying that this lack of images isn't carried through into either the techniques pages near the start of each section, or into the section on Advanced Techniques, where photos accompany the instructions for each of the projects - this seems to me to be the most successful section by reason of these extra images; although the projects are more advanced the photographed steps are also easier to follow and understand.

At the End

The book finishes with a glossary and index and a very nice page or two on resources, with details of mainly UK suppliers, and also some web site addresses for learning resources.

In Summary

Covering a wide range of different techniques and styles of jewellery making this book is a good introduction and I particularly enjoyed learning more about fabric jewellery, as well as the advanced techniques section. The techniques displayed at the start of each section were helpful and often included handy hints, which are often a good source of more specific information.

However the lack of photographs to go with the instructions for each project left me feeling that the book could have been far better than it was, just by their inclusion. This absence of photos would dissuade me from recommending the book to a beginner beader jeweller. If you're a little more experienced then you might gain a lot more from its pages.

How to Make Jewellery - Easy Techniques and over 25 Great Projects by Mary Helt


For another jewellery book review, check out my thoughts and feelings on Practical Jewellery-Making Techniques: Problem Solving by Stephen O'Keeffe


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