Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider

This week's review is on Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider: Original Designs and Expert Advice from the Editor of BeadStyle Magazine by Cathy Jakicic.  This is a brand new book put out by Kalmbach Publishing.  I am very excited to tell you about it, and not just because I know Cathy personally and have had an article in BeadStyle magazine.  :)  This is a great book on a great many topics, and it will be great to have on hand for techniques, inspiration, tips, and more!  Yes, I just said "great" three times in one sentence.  Read on, and you'll see why.

Let's start with the author.  You may be looking at her last name and wondering how the heck it's pronounced.  I hope Cathy doesn't laugh at my phonetic attempts here.  It's ja-KEYS-ick with an actual J sound at the beginning.  Until recently Cathy was the Editor of BeadStyle magazine, but now she has moved on to another position at another company.  I just found out that she also writes movie reviews for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  How cool is that?  If you're interested in checking out her reviews, they can also be found on the Rotten Tomatoes website here with links to the original articles on the Journal Sentinel website.  I agree with her assessment of Disney's The Princess and the Frog, so she must know what she's talking about.

If you're on Pinterest, you can follow Cathy here.  There's even a board for her book with pictures of a few of the projects and some of her many tips.  Oh - there's a book review.  I shouldn't read that before I write my own.  Moving on!

And now for the book.  The title intrigued me, and on the cover "Beading Insider" is in very large, bold letters.  See for yourself:

If that doesn't catch your eye, I don't know what will!  You can carry this book around, and folks will immediately think you know what you're doing.  After reading this book (and with a little practice), you will.

Once I got past that fabulous cover and looked at the "What's Inside" (Table of Contents) section, I knew that this book would be perfect for not just beginner beaders but for intermediate and advanced beaders, too.

The first big section is called "Skill-Building Workshops" and covers beginner techniques needed for making jewelry such as plain loops, crimping, wrapped loops, and measuring for multi-strand necklaces all while explaining how to make beautiful necklaces or bracelets (and matching earrings for each project!).  Each technique is described in "Learn!" sections for each project (as well as in the "Techniques Review" at the end of the book), but there are also tips to help you master the technique and to help you plan your components for a flawless design.  For example, in the wrapped loops section, the tips include what gauge wire or headpins to practice on, how best to tuck in the end of the wrap, what to do if you're making clustered bead units, and more.  In the plain loop section, she gives two alternatives to the "standard" method of making the loop that might work better for some people or situations.  Even someone who has made numerous plain loops and wrapped loops (such as myself) can learn something from her tips.

If that isn't enough, the "Skill-Building Workshops" section includes a number of techniques I wouldn't have expected, including wire crochet, adding color to metal using Gilder's Paste, wire wrapping, simple beadweaving, and dyeing beads to get just the color you want.  There are tips galore and plenty of full-color pictures.

The next section is a "Creativity Boost!"  This section has three projects for what you can make with items already in your stash.  There are matching earrings for each of these projects, too!  The project that was most surprising for me in this section was the paper-folding one.  Remember the weave that can be made with gum wrappers?  Well, Cathy created a bracelet on that theme using regular colored copy paper!  Add a chain and a charm with some patina on it, and it's an adorable accessory.  She even experimented with different types of papers so you don't have to.

When you're comfortable with the techniques, it's time to create your own masterpieces.  The next section, "Designing with..." showcases necklaces and bracelets using a variety of materials: gemstones, river stone, art beads, charms, lucite, crystals, chain, ribbon, and more.  Of course, each project has its own matching earrings.  This shouldn't surprise me by now, but I was tickled when I figured this out.  A number of the projects in this section have alternatives so you can see how the same technique looks with different materials.  For example, in the "clear" project, "Clear and Present Style", the main project uses a silver chain with clear round and rough-cut beads for a classic, sophisticated look.  The alternate project uses the same beads and the same technique but with a patterned chain.  Just changing the chain gives the same necklace a fun, funky look.

In this section the tips cover designing, facts about the materials, what to look for when shopping, beading wire facts, and more.

The final project section is a second "Creativity Boost!"  The projects here challenge the "traditional" methods of using materials.  The first one has beads glued directly onto memory wire (I'd never have thought of that!).  The second project takes her mother's old necklace that had mother-of-pearl leaves on it and pairs them with bright crystals.  The third one is a pearl and chain necklace that is bold and full of visual interest.  I know my goddaughter would love to play with those dangly chains.  The one thing I'll say is that the original necklace in the second project was GORGEOUS.  I would have loved to have worn it.  I don't think I could have taken it apart, but the necklace wasn't Cathy's style.  The reconstructed one is bold and vibrant and I'm sure is more fun to wear.

I'm going on a lot longer than I thought I was going to, but there really is so much in this book that will keep any beader busy for ages.  The tips throughout the book are great, and they show up all over the place.  I just looked down at the reconstructed mother-of-pearl project and found a list of classic necklace lengths from choker/collar to rope/lariat.  They're everywhere, and I know that every time I open the book I'll find something new.

Are you a beginning beader?  Get this book.  It has everything you need to know to get started.  Have you been beading for years, off and on, and are comfortable with what you've been doing?  Get this book.  It'll help you refine your techniques and inspire you to try something new.  Are you a professional who sells your jewelry?  Still get this book.  At the very least, you'll remember things you'd forgotten and will give you ideas on different techniques to try and different materials to work with.

Don't bead at all?  Get this book for your friend who does bead, or maybe you can try your hand at a project from it, and you'll get hooked.

If you're on Facebook, feel free to "like" The Beading Insider's page.  I'm sure she'd love to see posts by you with pictures on what you've made!

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