Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of Janice & Tracy's book

If there was a beading “bucket” list for classes then you’ll find both Janice Berkebile and Tracy Stanley’s name high on that list.  The wire divas are not only extremely talented and informative on the subject of wire, but also both are wonderfully entertaining.  I might be a little biased reviewing this book as I have been lucky enough to have taken classes with both of these tow instructors.  Last year at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, both Janice and Tracy were telling us about this their upcoming book offered by Lark.  They both said there were lots of instructional photos.  At that time it was hard to imagine what they possibly meant, but let me tell you that they did not exaggerate at all.  I struggle with wire classes because I get so excited in class and when I get home I would absolutely forget all the little twist and turns you make with your tools.  Plus I would forget which tool is used where.  Imagine how happy I was when sent this Lark Craft book to review and saw right there on the front cover of Making Wire & Beaded Jewelry: Artful Wireworking Techniques  “Learn visually with 500 How-to Photos”.  I opened the first few pages a little skeptical as I thought to myself how I could really learn with pictures when real time classes couldn’t do that for me.  Then I started to leaf through the rest of the book and was just astonished with the amazing amount of full color photos with step-by-step instructions clearly written for each project.

The first chapter outlines the tools needed for working with wire to created jewelry.  The on thing both Janice and Tracy stressed to me in classrooms is that quality tools are a MUST not only for ease in execution but also in safety issues.  I can still see in my mind’s eye my first classes with both of them at the Puget Sound Bead Festival.  I was struggling with my (okay I admit it) cheap tools I had bought here in Columbus.  My hands were just aching so badly and I had cut myself on the knuckle with the metal exposed grips.  I asked if I could use their tools in class and could not believe the difference.  I’d pick up another tool and questioned if I needed it looking over to see Janice bob her hand at an angle at me & slightly nod with a grin on her face or Tracy standing with hands on hips saying, “YES!”  So as you can see each page I turn I could hear their voices ringing out as I viewed each project showing me in detail all those things I had forgotten in class.  That is why I am saying that for anyone this book is a MUST for your library no matter if you are a beginner who has never taken a class at all or are an intermediate wire worker looking for more advanced techniques to take your wire art to another plane.  

For me the chapter on wire techniques are those I will go back to over and over again.  Even if you only use this one chapter of this book you definitely will be happy with the reward of learning that you’ll never have to every buy another clasp or jump rings again.  This is a definitely must for you reference library.
Each project progresses along teaching new techniques from Janice’s “Dog Bone Earrings” and Tracy’s “Go-To Bracelet” that are both simple enough for a novice to complete with the colored step by step photos are written instructions.  From project to project you will add another wire technique to your learning belt until you reach the final projects of Tracy’s “Cascading Spiral Bracelet” and Janice’s amazing “Bloom”.  I have to repeat myself here, but each project has so many clear photos to follow which is the perfect way to learn.  This reference book is a great keeper for you to always have at your fingertips.  The only thing better is to actually have Janice or Tracy sit right next to you, but in this case you get all the chocolate for yourself. 

I find it extremely hard to choose my favorite projects from this book.  Janice’s “Wire Pods” teaches how to make a three dimensional cage by using a basket weaving technique is one I want to perfect, but I am also drawn to her “Spiral Waves Ring”.  Tracy’s project “Cage It” stimulates my Muse to pull out all those irregular shaped stones I collect and create a way to merge them with wire and pearls to finish a stunning pendent.  But “Rock & Roll by the Sea” is my definite favorite that maybe someday I’ll be able to attempt.

I know this book will help me achieve success over my fear of wire and will probably be one of those books that over time will become dog-eared from use.  

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.

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