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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book review: 500 Silver Jewelry Designs

500 Silver Jewelry Designs: The Powerful Allure of a Precious Metal (500 Series) 

How do you define what is a good book?  Sometimes I'll call a book good if it teaches me a new technique that I've been wanting to learn.  And sometimes it's because a book is full of beautiful inspiring work, those pieces that we in "the biz" like to call eye-candy.  Well, how about when there are lots of pieces that challenge you to rethink what you think you know, and you don't really like some of them?  But you can't stop looking at them?

I'd say that's a new category of good book, wouldn't you?

That's the experience I had with 500 Silver Jewelry Designs by Lark Publishing.  Talya Baharal, the juror is part of a new breed of silversmiths.  The pieces she chose range from classic to completely not-at-all classic, and at first I was confused as I leafed through the gallery.  I found my answer when I went back and read the introduction that Talya wrote:

Intent to shock, intent to alter our perceptions of what jewelry is, intent to evoke symbols of memory and historical significance, intent to redefine our ideas about beauty and challenge our preconceived notions of good craftsmanship - these are some of the concepts behind works made in silver today. 

Ok, that kind of explains it, so I went back for another pass.  Seen in that light, my impressions began to change.  I was only familiar with the work of a couple of the artists, but I was able to find many more to love.  I was very struck by the work of Yeonmi Kang, and had to run and see if she had more work online.  The cuff bracelets at the link are similar to one that is in the book.  Another that I really loved was Melissa Borrell, who makes these amazing topography necklaces.    By the time I finished immersing myself in this book, there were still some whose work I didn't care for, but I'm not saying who!  You might just love them.

So, my tastes are still pretty classic when it comes to silver work, but I'm stretching a bit :-)

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