Many of you will be familiar with Kaari Meng's work, fun, feminine, and whimsical designs that start with mostly vintage beads and charms. Well, Kaari has a new book that is based on the jewelry that she constructs at her store, the French General. The title of the book? French General: a Year of Jewelry.
Kaari starts with a discussion on a little bit of what to look for in buying vintage and antique beads and charms. She talks about some of her early prejudices, and how she moved past them into buying quality beads, but only what she likes! It really makes sense; you don't want to invest money and time in materials that will flake and deteriorate, but you also don't want to buy beads that you don't like just because they are a "good deal".
The basic techniques that are used over and over in the book are also up front. Mostly you'll be working with chain, wire, memory wire, gluing, and some stringing. The organization of the bulk of the book is by month, with three nicely coordinating projects for each. Not matchy matchy projects, just items with a similar feel and color palette that would wear well together if you were so inclined.
Most, not all, of the projects use charms and wired beads similar to the samples shown above. These bracelets are kits that are available at Kaari's store, but they are good examples of the style in the book as well. You will be unable to reproduce the pieces exactly, which Kaari says up front, but it's good to keep this in mind. If you like to use your beading books as a guide, you'll like this book. If you still need step-by-step instruction for exactly what to put where, you may be disappointed. Personally, I think the 36 designs are quite inspiring :-)
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