Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Top 5 Jewelry Craft Reference Books

I have a bit of a book-buying problem. I'll admit it. I should never be left alone in a Barnes & Noble or a Borders. Browsing through their craft section the other day got me to thinking about reference books I love (and reference books I want).

The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques
The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young.

This is a new release from Interweave Press, a solid crafts book publisher. (We carry a lot of their titles at work.) I flipped through it the other day and The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques looks to be one of the most comprehensive guides I've seen yet on jewelry making, from beads and gemstones to metals and soldering, as well as step-by-step project instructions. Hardcover with 320 pages of beautiful color photographs, this is sure to become a well-referenced classic in the world of jewelry texts. The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques is at the absolute top of my crafty "to-buy" book list. Available at your favorite book retailer, or online from Interweave. ($34.95 US)

Gemstones of the World Walter Schumann
Gemstones of the World: Newly Revised & Expanded Fourth Edition by Walter Schumann

I call Gemstones of the World my "little red book." My copy is only the third edition, but nonetheless it's invaluable for anyone at all interested in the mineralogy of the gemstones they work with and the science behind their beauty. Gemstones of the World is one of the top guides in the field, and has been since its first publication in 1976. The writing is clear and concise, and the photos are all in glorious color—essential for a book about gemstones!—and contain examples of specimens both rough and polished. Gemstones of the World also has a comprehensive index and a slightly less comprehensive Table of Constants to help you identify minerals. Changes and updates to the fourth edition of Gemstones of the World (published December, 2009) include:
  • 400 new gemstone listings
  • expanded information on "What's On the Market"
  • a new chapter on treated gemstones

Available on Amazon, $24.95.

Beading Basics Carole Rodgers
Beading Basics by Carole Rodgers

or any other beginner's book

Beading Basics is pretty much what it says. Most serious jewelry makers are probably well beyond the level Rodgers addresses in Beading Basics, but that's why it has "basics" in the title. By her own admission, Ms Rodgers describes her book as geared for the beginner; a book she would have liked to have when she started. But that was then, this is now; Beading Basics is solid enough, but there are a plethora of beginners's books out there. Whatever you find works for you; for me, this books works. I included it in this list because she has the best instructions for making eyepins and wire-wrapped loops that I've read or heard anywhere, as well as full-color illustrations and solid tools explanations. But if you can wire-wrap in your sleep and know how to peyote stitch or put clamshells over your crimps, pass on this one—unless one of her included projects strikes your fancy.

Available on Amazon (I've also seen it in JoAnn's and Michael's, with the beads), $19.99.

The Handmade Marketplace Kari Chapin
The Handmade Marketplace, by Kari Chapin

Kari Chapin is a big deal name in the crafty world: teaching classes at Etsy's Summit of Awesome, hosting e-courses, writing books. The Handmade Marketplace is another book that's on my "when I get more disposable income" list. It was the #1 craft book on Amazon in 2010 and has nothing but rave reviews. It's a little book, but packed with a lot of awesome and a lot contributions from various Etsy artisans, all about how to sell and market your awesome handmade goodies. Given the time, I would have probably devoured the whole thing in Barnes & Noble. Alternatively, you can sign up for one of Ms. Chapin's online class and get some valuable one-on-one time with the amazing lady.

Available on Amazon (and for a song, on the Kindle!), $14.95.

Beginning GIMP Akkana Peck
Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional, Second Edition by Akkana Peck

(or any other photo software reference book)

The number one tip any seller gets on Etsy about how to improve their store is almost always: better photos! And while knowing the basics (lots of natural light, no flash, crisp and complementary backgrounds) is important, more often than not you're going to have to touch up your work digitally. Enter Beginning GIMP. The highest-rated GIMP reference book on Amazon, Beginning GIMP is comprehensive, with chapters ranging from GIMP basics to touch-ups, color, scripting, and plug-ins. Ms. Peck is an active member in the GIMP community, occasionally even contributing source code—all of this comes straight from the horses's mouth. While not everything will be relevant to Etsy product photos, too much information is certainly better than too little.

Of course, if you don't use the GIMP, then this isn't much help at all. Any good text on popular image editing programs (Photoshop, CS, etc) can fill in this slot. It's just that I use the GIMP.

What are the top reference books in your library/wishlist?

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