Kalmbach Publishing frequently sends me jewelry/beading related books to review. Yesterday it was like Christmas in June when I opened a package to discover 3 brand new books to review. The one I was most excited about is Metal Magic by Kim St. Jean because her previous book, Mixed Metal Mania, is in my top 10 list of jewelry related books.
Anyway, the last few days have been very hectic. I am exhausted, but I open the package, see the book, and sit down to read it the first free moment I had...about 12:30am. The effect was like drinking a pot of coffee. I had to refrain from heading down to the studio to try some of the techniques immediately (knowing what my schedule was like the next day).
What's included? About 105 pages jam packed with info written in a very fun, chatting with your girlfriend style. It's not stuffy, not boring, includes lots of quirky tips for the "how in the world does she...." moments so we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
Intro: We learn about St. Jean's theory for who "They" are. It's rather enlightening. She also takes a moment to explain how the book is organized into projects easiest to more difficult.
Tools and Techniques: The first section is organized by "toolboxes". In addition to the toolbox, St. Jean does a brief intro and explanation to the techniques that go with each toolbox. The first toolbox is called Base Tool Toolbox. It is as the name suggests...a toolbox of the basic tools you will need for every project. St. Jean recommends keeping these tools in a portable container to move from station to station or bead show to bead show.
The 2nd toolbox is for sawing and piercing. As part of this toolbox, you are not only given a list of tools and supplies, but 4 pages of tips for sawing metal, loading a saw blade, how not to break a blade, practice projects, and more.
The 3rd toolbox is for etching on metal, and includes 3 pages of tips and techniques.
The 4th toolbox is enameling basics and contains 5 pages packed with info on torch or kiln firing enamel onto metal.
There are also a soldering toolbox with 3 pages of info, setting basics and cold connections toolbox with 5 pages of info, texture and stamping toolbox, fold forming toolbox, and a patina toolbox.
Next up is one of my favorite parts...Kim's Unconventional Tools, Tips, and Tricks. LOVE it! You will have to read it to understand why.
And in case all that other stuff wasn't enough, there's even a 2 page spread on how Kim finds inspiration! All that info and we're only on page 39.
On page 40 we get to the projects, of which there are 30 total projects. Each one starts out by listing what techniques are used, which toolbox(es) are used, and any additional materials you need. Very specific step by step instructions are included along with clear and plentiful photos demonstrating the steps.
If you love organic shapes, lots of texture, manipulating metal, etc, this book is for you. If you have never done any type of jewelry making, wire or metal work, you might want to learn a few basic skills first. However, copper and brass are cheap metals. If you're adventurous, go for it. I personally love this book and am so glad St Jean wrote it. It easily joins Mixed Metal Mania in my top 10 list of favorite jewelry related books.
-Jennifer Cameron, Art Jewelry Elements
Metal working can be a whole new avenue to designs. "Metal Magic: How to Etch, Pierce, Enamel, and Set Striking Jewelry" is a guide to the many ins and outs of custom jewelry and other artistic endeavors using artistic metal working. Kim St. Jean advises readers on etching their own creations, complete with easy to follow full color guides all throughout. "Metal Magic" is a must for do it yourself jewelry creators, highly recommended.
-Midwest Book Review
Kim St Jean is a well known metal smith with a gift for teaching. Her previous book Mixed Metal Mania was exceptionally good as she covered wire, soldering, riveting and hammering techniques in such a way that the inexperienced would be encouraged to try and learn. The book is packed with loads of tips.
Her latest publication, Metal Magic is a continuation of her inimitable instructional style, this time focusing on etching, piercing, enamel and setting techniques in 30 original designs.
One really good section from the first book reappears here slightly expanded and that is "Kim's unconventional tools, tips and tricks". It's well worth a read because these are really useful tips and tricks. For example, using a heat gun to create heat patina if one doesn't have a torch.
The front section of this book covers the basics of her latest set of chosen techniques including some she covered before like soldering which is again used in her new batch of designs. Kim is another artisan who also enamels with a torch as well as with a kiln. She includes so many helpful explanations like how to saw properly and why sometimes it is necessary to saw rather than use metal shears.
She covers both hot and cold connections.
One of the most delightful ideas Kim gives in her book is the use of flared prongs to set glass and gemstones.
Although she uses a rolling mill - something most of us cannot afford - Kim is careful to give alternatives to achieve similar textures and finishes for designs.
Kim also makes a good case for learning how to solder! One of my favorite designs is her Pugnacious ring shown below which involves the soldering of 5 lengths of wire with balled ends. The unsoldered parts become the prongs.
It's hard to believe this design came about by accident and during a class. She was trying to teach her students how to make the Adjustable Ring design from her first book and flubbed the measurements. She then turned the mistake around into an awesome ring!
Kim's book is just brimming with ideas for readers to try. One of the coolest ones is illustrated by her Salt Rocks ring below. This rather organic design is really created using rock salt. The sterling silver scraps are melted and poured onto rock salt. The silver-salt nugget is then placed in a container of water to dissolve the salt. She soldered the prong setting and the ring shank to the rugged remainder. How neat is that?
I learned lots for her book and can definitely recommended to intermediate to advanced readers. You don't have to but I think it is worth getting both Mixed Metal Mania as well as this book if you are interested in learning metal work.
-Pearl Blay, The Beading Gem's Journal