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REVIEW: Wild Jewellery
As a society we are gradually becoming more aware of the effect that we as individuals are having on the world. We recycle, we think about our energy consumption and how sustainable our lives are. We are beginning to consider where our commodities come from and where they go once we have finished with them. As designer-makers and crafters we sometimes ask ourselves about the sustainability of our own items, and Wild Jewellery helps to bridge the gap between making beautiful new items, and the objects that have either been thrown away or that have been made by nature.
Wild Jewellery embraces the art and joy of treasure hunting, encouraging us to escape from our craft rooms and studios into the real world, and forage for items that can be incorporated into new contemporary designs. It's about giving the forgotten and discarded a new purpose where they may have just been left on the ground to rot or be buried. It's a pretty book, scattered throughout with colour photographs depicting locations, materials, finished projects and the work of others.
It begins with an introduction and a list of a wide range of tools that you may need for the projects, everything from PVA glue and cutters, to solder and a borax cone. The rest of the book is divided into three potential foraging locations, the beach, the woods and the built up urban environment. Each location has its own introduction surrounded by images of featured projects and photographs of materials you might find, with suggestions on how they can be used. There are pages on storage and preparation that tell you the best ways to wash items, as well as safety precautions such as tips on how to safely drill conkers and bone.
Following on are a variety of actual projects, more inspirational photographic examples of similar items, and then finally, a feature on the work of an individual making jewellery professionally from the same materials. Sharing the work of a real-life artist is a wonderful idea, as it demonstrates how the techniques included in the book can be developed and taken to another level. Towards the back of the book you will also find a resource section that offers advice on how to start designing jewellery, along with a list of useful addresses and web addresses to help you find supplies.
Within the projects a wide range of crafts and techniques are covered, including crochet, wire wrapping, riveting, using resin, polymer clay, and working with silver. There is a substantial amount of beginner silver work, such as texturing and soldering, due to the metal complimenting so many of the natural materials. Initially this may seem intimidating for those without experience, but all the projects are written clearly using step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs.
Some of the projects show you techniques rather than an entire finished item. You can learn how to make your own silver head pins or to thread with Tigertail - skills that you can then incorporate into you own jewellery designs.
The instructions are simple, containing just enough detail to give you a basic foundation of knowledge to get started, rather than dictating to you how to make an exact replica. It encourages you to take the skills and adapt them into your own work, to experiment, be spontaneous and find your own creativity. You can't make any guarantees on what you will find when you go out foraging, so the book can only offer suggestions.
I feel that the urban section offers less instant satisfaction compared to the beach and woodland delights on offer. The urban inspiration page says, "In many ways, urban finds present the greatest challenge when making wild jewellery", and it's definitely harder to see the beauty in manmade materials often associated with the rubbish tip, such as plastic bags and broken reflectors, when in previous pages you had been absorbing images of pretty sea glass and knotted pieces of wood. However, it is this challenge that makes these pages possibly more inspiring and unexpected. They are littered with gems such as contemporary resin beads with park grass inclusions, and wonderfully textured plastic bags. This is only let down slightly by a rather ugly polymer clay hose clip ring shank. The idea is interesting, but I don't understand why you would want to mix green and brown clay to produce some muddy marbling when there are far more attractive things that can be achieved.
My only other slight criticism is that there are no lifestyle images. It isn't imperative as the book is already full of inspirational and informative photographs, but if you are creating something that is to be worn I think it's useful to have some idea of how a piece will look when fulfilling its purpose.
Wild Jewellery is exciting and full of inspiration, particularly if you haven't tried your hand at jewellery making previously, you want to develop your skills further on from bought beads and findings, or if you simply feel like taking a fresh look at your jewellery making. It reminds you to look at the world with an inventive artist's eye and provides a variety of skills and techniques to support this innovation.
Working with found and recycled items will always lead your work in unusual directions, and this book puts emphasis on the beauty of the colours, shapes and textures of the natural world and everyday miscellanea that we can find in our environment. There may be an abundance of jewellery books available to choose from, but remember, few also provide you with an excuse for a day trip to the beach, or a healthy dose of exercise walking through woodland.
RRP - £16.99
Jacqui Small - http://www.aurumpress.co.uk/