Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book review: Metal Magic

Kalmbach Publishing frequently sends me jewelry/beading related books to review. Yesterday it was like Christmas in June when I opened a package to discover 3 brand new books to review. The one I was most excited about is Metal Magic by Kim St. Jean because her previous book, Mixed Metal Mania, is in my top 10 list of jewelry related books.

Anyway, the last few days have been very hectic. I am exhausted, but I open the package, see the book, and sit down to read it the first free moment I had...about 12:30am. The effect was like drinking a pot of coffee. I had to refrain from heading down to the studio to try some of the techniques immediately (knowing what my schedule was like the next day).

What's included? About 105 pages jam packed with info written in a very fun, chatting with your girlfriend style. It's not stuffy, not boring, includes lots of quirky tips for the "how in the world does she...." moments so we don't have to reinvent the wheel.

The specifics:

Intro: We learn about St. Jean's theory for who "They" are. It's rather enlightening. She also takes a moment to explain how the book is organized into projects easiest to more difficult.

Tools and Techniques: The first section is organized by "toolboxes". In addition to the toolbox, St. Jean  does a brief intro and explanation to the techniques that go with each toolbox. The first toolbox is called  Base Tool Toolbox. It is as the name suggests...a toolbox of the basic tools you will need for every project. St. Jean recommends keeping these tools in a portable container to move from station to station or bead show to bead show.

The 2nd toolbox is for sawing and piercing. As part of this toolbox, you are not only given a list of tools and supplies, but 4 pages of tips for sawing metal, loading a saw blade, how not to break a blade, practice projects, and more.

The 3rd toolbox is for etching on metal, and includes 3 pages of tips and techniques.

The 4th toolbox is enameling basics and contains 5 pages packed with info on torch or kiln firing enamel onto metal.

There are also a soldering toolbox with 3 pages of info, setting basics and cold connections toolbox with 5 pages of info, texture and stamping toolbox, fold forming toolbox, and a patina toolbox.

Next up is one of my favorite parts...Kim's Unconventional Tools, Tips, and Tricks. LOVE it! You will have to read it to understand why.

And in case all that other stuff wasn't enough, there's even a 2 page spread on how Kim finds inspiration! All that info and we're only on page 39.

On page 40 we get to the projects, of which there are 30 total projects. Each one starts out by listing what techniques are used, which toolbox(es) are used, and any additional materials you need. Very specific step by step instructions are included along with clear and plentiful photos demonstrating the steps.

If you love organic shapes, lots of texture, manipulating metal, etc, this book is for you. If you have never done any type of jewelry making, wire or metal work, you might want to learn a few basic skills first. However, copper and brass are cheap metals. If you're adventurous, go for it. I personally love this book and am so glad St Jean wrote it. It easily joins Mixed Metal Mania in my top 10 list of favorite jewelry related books.


  1. That book sounds so good...really well thought out and lots in it...will keep my eye on tht one for possible purchase.

  2. This sounds like a great book, going to put it on my wish list right now. Thanks for sharing the information!

  3. Squeee! Just got the notice that my pre-order has shipped from Amazon. I knew this was going to be a good one!

  4. I just finished reading Mixed Metal Mania and I loved it! I am adding this one to my must read list. Thanks for the review Jen (you lucky lady). I hope B&B was a good experience for you. ~Ema

  5. Oh this sounds great - definitely on my list to order!


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