Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
on 7 April 2014
I was so disappointed in the content of this so called 'Encyclopaedia'. At first glace it is a handsome enough book, with the square 'Encyclopaedia of' format, attractive illustrations on the cover, and inside are a great many detailed and comprehensive photographic instructions, although the majority are quite small. The section on Decorative Chains is quite useful, or would be if instructions for the most attractive chains illustrated (Silver Inca, Silver Byzantine with Side Groups, Gilt Spiral, Byzantine Star, Square Byzantine with Amethyst, Byzantine with Side Groups and Blue Glass...etc... were included instead of just illustrated.
I always feel so cheated if a book, especially one that calls itself an 'Encyclopaedia' illustrates a really interesting and attractive item and the instructions are nowhere to be found. OK, perhaps one 'should' be able to work it out, but I defy anybody to do that with the more complex and attractive chains, (Gilt Spiral, Byzantine Star, anybody?) unless they are very experienced (in which case they wouldn't need a book). We get instead, three 'Simple Decorative Chains' (which you COULD work out just from the illustrations), two simple Coil Chains and several pages of things to do with jump rings. There are dozens of books out there that deal exclusively with 'Chain Maille' jewellery - ie made with jump rings.
With the exception of the very brief 'Herringbone Wrapping' (p 72-73), the sections on 'Wrapping Beads' and 'Advanced Wrapping Techniques' are quite frankly appalling. In most instances, the 'wrapping' is terribly flimsy, looks amateurish and for some reason (pp 70 - 71 and 80 - 81) the author seems to favour putting random kinks in the wire, which makes the wrapping look as though done by a five year old and is quite ugly. In fact I'll take that back and say hideous - and actually an insult to our ability and intelligence. If this is supposed to be 'Advanced', then the author must indeed think that all the readers will be ham fisted idiots.
Also, overall. everything seems smothered in beads, when the book is entitled 'The Encyclopaedia of WIRE Jewellery'. As stated by another disappointed reviewer, by far the most attractive and more interesting pieces are in the 'gallery', with no instructions, and again to repeat what the other reviewer says, if I wanted to look at a picture and figure it out for myself, I wouldn't need a book. The book does not give you enough basic instruction to be able to 'figure it out' anyway.
Even more disappointing is that the book - for once - seems aimed at the UK market, as most of the suppliers are UK based and it is published in the UK. We moan and groan at all the best (and some of the worst) craft books being aimed at the US market, with supplies we can't get, so shouldn't we be rejoicing at this? - well, if this book is the best we can do, could it be that the US based authors are just plain better at what they do? I hope not.
On a more positive (?) note, the bracelet of crocheted fine wire 'with or without beads' (p 88) is attractive, even if we have seen it elsewhere, and even if, as ever, there are no instructions as to how one finishes it off. Ah well, 'work it out' from the illustration, ie by the looks of it, roughly wind a few bits of wire round the end and put on some kind of bought clasp somehow - um, well, it looks like a heart...the illustration disappears into the spine of the book...oh, work it out for yourselves...
There probably are some useful and interesting techniques in the book somewhere, if you can be bothered to search them out, but speaking personally, the more I looked through it expecting to find something inspiring, the more disappointed I became.
I don't like to criticise a book if I can't give other readers some kind of recommendation or alternative. (Trying to be constructive here ;-> )
I can recommend 'Weaving Freeform Wire Jewelry' by Kasa Firor' - while everything in the book isn't to my taste, at least the emphasis is mostly on creating with wire. There are also some really excellent detailed tutorials on Youtube, (although I do prefer to have a book in front of me). In particular, I have found those by Ross Barbera, Beaducation and Beadaholique VERY comprehensive,VERY detailed and easy to follow - I pause the video to make notes and diagrams. They show you absolutely everything, from start to finish - particularly Mr Barbera, and the work is very attractive. I love his handmade chains.
I can also recommend JewelryLessons.com for some very attractive and reasonably priced downloads - some are even free - for wireworked jewellery (not just chains). Mostly from the US I'm afraid, (although I did spot a couple of UK based wire workers on JewelryLessons.com). But if they can be bothered to provide us with the instruction and inspiration, I for one will use them.
'The Encyclopaedia of Wireworked Jewellery' is going back.
Also highly recommended: 'Wire Art Jewelry Workshop' and the classic 'Bead on a Wire' by Sharilyn Miller; 'The Missing Link' by Cindy Wimmer; 'Spotlight on Wire' and 'Metal Jewelry in Bloom' by Melissa Cable (all full of interesting and orginal projects and comprehensive technical instructions and tips); 'Making Metal Beads' by Pauline Warg - rather advanced for me at present, but beautiful even if only to drool over and aspire to.