Monday, October 5, 2015

jean baldridge yates reviews Handcraft Wire Jewelry: Chains Clasps Pendants, by Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin

A Glorious Journey into Fascinating and Beautiful Designs!

Handcraft Wire Jewelry is a bangup book for any jewelry designer! If you were not previously a total lover of the technique of wire wrapping in your jewelry making, after reading this excellent book by Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin, you most definitely will be! The beauty and the quality of the author's designs are matched by her marvelous ability to show the reader how to create these designs. Via wonderful photos and clear explanations, you can tackle these designs, step by step, even if you are a beginner. And you will love this journey into fascinating and beautiful designs!
Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin is a great teacher. More than that, she makes incredibly gorgeous jewelry. Some of the inspirations and influences for her, which she mentions in this book, Handcraft Wire Jewelry, come from ancient art, nature, and Alexander Calder. According to what I read in the book, she feels that Calder's jewelry creations "have inspired her to think and design without limit".
The reader will immediately grasp how the freedom of the author's philosophy imbues wonderful movement and life into her jewelry designs. They are exceptional.
There is a sense of joy which infuses every page of this book.
The thirty two designs offered afford the reader easy to understand starting points complete with beautiful finishing touches. These designs can also be broken down into components. These then can be interchanged to suit the reader's own taste. If you like one aspect of one of the designs, and you like another clasp taught elsewhere in the book, for example, it is easy to alter the projects to make each of them your very own. As the author states in her introduction, "These projects are a jumping off place for your creativity and offer you the opportunity to personalize all of your pieces". She also suggests that the reader "use the gallery of more ideas following each project for inspiration to adapt and modify any of the projects". When you make jewelry,a concept like this is very freeing. It will give you countless ways of changing your style, once you learn the basics taught here.

Handcraft Wire Jewelry opens with the author's introduction and proceeds to cover the materials, beads and tools you will need for wire work. Then there is a section called "basics" which is an excellent primer for the neophyte wire worker. I thought this was very complete and well done. I love her tips! Also, as was previously stated, the photographs in this book are excellent. They are not only stunning, they help immensely when the intent is to teach. You can really see what you need to do because of the step out photos.

The projects themselves are really exceptional. If you like wire, and love the look of antiquity, you will find some projects that will particularly resonate with you. The "beaded double spiral chain" is one I noted that would have looked as grand on an ancient princess as it will look on you. It is flat out gorgeous, combining spiraled wire with jump rings and 8mm donut shaped disk beads in royal purple. I loved the additional ideas for this chain, which include a pendant you will flip for, and a complete change in look when the wire is switched from silver to copper, and moody chalcedony replaces the beads. There is also a bracelet shown made using the same principles, which showcases the spirals in a double chain flanking black crystals, which is stunning. In conjunction with this project, you also learn how to make a spiral beaded clasp, and a double connector clasp with a spiral hook (very suitable, as is suggested, for the bracelet described earlier).

If you are into a more modern look, try the "front drilled onyx circle pendant". As the author says, "I wanted to replicate the round shape of the large onyx bead in the round chain link". This lovely link necklace is quite streamlined. It would look pretty on you as you browse among the art galleries in downtown New York.
Any of the jewelry you make from Handcraft Wire Jewelry will take you anywhere. I particularly liked one of the extra ideas offered to go along with the round chain. The author uses a top drilled piece of unpolished kyanite, a stone I am very fond of for its lovely blue tones. She adds lampworked beads in two different hues of green to make this necklace sing of the forest and its wildness. It is so pretty!

When you love hearts, but you don't want "cute", head over to the very hip "heart's fancy woven bead drop" project. It is influenced by the heart shape, especially where the pendant and the chain meet, as well as in the wonderful heart clasp. However there is no overwhelming overload concerning the heart theme going on here. It is by far one of the coolest heart necklaces I have ever seen. And yes, there is February's birthstone, the amethyst, featured in the jawdroppingly beautiful pendant and in the stunning chain too. Be your own Valentine and make this for yourself! I love it and so will you!

To teach yourself further technique in a really worthwhile way, try the "top drilled no frame pendant". As the author says, "Just about any top-drilled bead works well with this project". As it is a wonderful project with a gorgeous result, your time will be well spent. I was transported by the manner in which the wire is coiled and woven to reflect the earthy beauty of the stone pendant which was chosen for this project. Once you teach yourself how to make this pendant, you will be inspired by the selection of stones shown as alternate ideas to make this curvy, woven, spiraled pendant over and over again. This is an outstanding design you will adore if your taste leans toward the unique and beautiful.

At the end of the book, the reader is offered a section on advanced wireweaving techniques. I really appreciated the further insight I was able to get from this section. I also liked the weaving tips and the notes on creating patterns.

Handcraft Wire Jewelry: Chains Clasps Pendants, by Kimberly Sciaraffa Berlin fairly hums with delightful beauty. Share in the positive energy and make sure you don't miss this treasure of a jewelry design book!


Lori Anderson said...

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Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

Wonderful comprehensive review, as always, Jean. I especially like the spiral wire chain (3rd from right) on the cover and would love to learn how to do it. I enjoy wire wrapping immensely.

The Last Day One said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous! And such a well written review of the book. Love me some wire!