Book Review: Diane Fitzgerald’s Favorite Beading Projects

Diane Fitzgerald's Favorite Beading Projects: Designs from Stringing to BeadweavingDiane Fitzgerald’s Favorite Beading Projects: Designs from Stringing to Beadweaving by Diane Fitzgerald

As the title says, this book is all about the projects. After a brief introduction by Diane Fitzgerald and a multi-page foreword (AKA lovefest) by Jean Campbell describing Ms. Fitzgerald’s career and many talents, the book starts right in on the projects. There is no ‘Basics’ section, but tips and techniques are woven throughout the book.

This book has a whopping 24 projects. At an MSRP of $27.95, that is about $1.04 per pattern. If you want to try a lot of different techniques, this is a good book to buy.

Throughout the book, the author shows very clearly how to put the beads together into the larger units needed to make the project. In looking at these images, I am sure a clever quiltmaker could apply beads to a quilt project in the same manner and achieve a great, if flatter look. The book is also good for the quiltmaker who wants to know more about beads. This book has wonderful pictures of different beads used.

I was hard pressed to pick a favorite project as I started to look through them. Many of the projects are necklaces in styles that I don’t wear. I liked the Midnight Snowflakes (pg.75) necklace, but it wasn’t a favorite. I also liked the Lacy Bracelet (pg.71). I was also quite partial to the May Basket project (pg.65), but can’t imagine wearing one as a broach or as a pendant. I did like their look and imagined having a “Spring Tree” (as opposed to a Christmas Tree) covered with these baskets. I was getting discouraged, but the end of the book (pg.100) shows the Braided Garland Necklace. Though it is a little bit large, I love the spring feeling of it.

Each project has a page with a variation so the reader can see what the project looks like in slightly different colors or using different beads.

The end of the book has a gallery of projects, presumably by Ms. Fitzgerald. I really like the Tulip Necklace Pouch (pg.125). It reminds me of the beaded bag Hermione uses in the Deathly Hallows.

Enjoy this inspirational book and thanks to Lark Books for sending it to me.

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Book Review: Metal Clay Fusion

Metal Clay Fusion: Diverse Clays, Detailed Techniques, Artful ProjectsMetal Clay Fusion: Diverse Clays, Detailed Techniques, Artful Projects by Gordon K. Uyehara

One of the first things I thought of when I saw this book was that the cover piece looked like some prehistoric animal, but not in a bad way. The shape looks very organic in a prehistoric sense. That was the beginning of realizing that the author, Gordon K. Uyehara uses many, many shapes and designs from nature, or which were informed by nature, in his work. This gives the hard edge of metal smoothness and positivity.

The things I like about this book are:

  • lots and lots of excellent, detailed photos
  • index
  • attention to the details of the works.

I also like these words from the author, which can be found in the introduction, “The near obsessive compulsion to create with silver clay in the face of a dwindling savings account and the feeling of spending way too many hours on something that might just lead to nothing go beyond logic.” I think we have all felt that way about some creative endeavor.

As with many of the Lark Craft books, this one is full of information about metal clays. It goes into detail about the properties of different types (bronze vs. copper, for example) and how to use them. This book also has tips inset on the pages. The detail photos show how to achieve the minute design details shown on some of the finished pieces. Included are sections called, for example, “Paintbrush Skills” and “Carving,” which help the reader with those details.

I liked the few pages on Design (pg.49-50). I don’t think anyone can get enough design training and hearing it from different voices is valuable.

This technique requires firing, so there are many pages included that discuss firing – temperatures, what to do when combining the metal with other materials. The books includes a section called “What happens during firing” and also a section on Mental Theatrics. We all go through some kind of drama when preparing to do something major to a piece. This section talks about ideas. I don’t see this type of writing in many books, so I was glad it was included and hope Lark makes it a regular feature of their quilt books as well.

The photos are predominantly of Mr. Uyehara’s work, but there are also pieces from other artists. Barbara Becker Simon’s Jester Jar is one of my favorites. It combines glass and metal. I also like the Bubbles Belt Buckle by Liz Hall (pg.38).

The projects are interesting. They range from earrings, bangles and beads to Hashi Oki (chopstick rests), condiment spoons and hairpins. I was very glad to see some new and different projects in this book.

As I have mentioned numerous time, I do not make jewelry, so this book will be donated to the Library, but, if nothing else, this books is a wealth of inspiration in shape, detail and design. There are plenty of curves to offset the hard edge of the metal. Spirals, ovals and circles permeate Uyehara’s work. There is a lot of eye candy in this book and would be an excellent book for inspiration, even if you are not a jewelry maker.

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