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Books for inspiration

David Huffman recently offered his opinion of a book about
locksmithing that he felt would be useful for jewelers. I plan on
ordering it soon (I love mechanisms). But it got me wondering if
anyone else in the group had favorite books or hobbies that were not
about jewelry making but had helped them either technically or
inspirationally with their work.

I developed a love of bonsai many years ago and feel that the study I
did concerning the Japanese rules of styling small trees did me a
great deal of good in preparing me to design my own work. Anyone
else have suggestions or stories? I think a lot of people would be
interested in ideas along these lines.

Larry Seiger

Dear Larry,

I didn’t know that Japanese bonsai is known by foreiners. If you are
interested in bonsai, you may be interested in ikebana. Ikebana is an
art of Japanese old-fashioned flower arrangement. There are many
communions of ikebana. It is thought that high birth ladies shold be
cultivated ikebana and that ikebana is a noble culture.

			Takashi Tomoeda

Hello All, I recently rejoined the list after a couple years away.
I’ve been doing the career thing and some teaching hear and there (my
intro never got posted). Now I’m ready to put a studio together again
and have started to accumulate stuff, including BOOKS! All I need now
is some space in the greater Boston area.

Now on to Inspirational books…“The Treatises of Benvenuto Cellini
on Goldsmithing and Sculpture” counts among my favorite. I seem to
have misplaced my copy, so I’m on the hunt. His autobiography also
make for a great read. BTW the former book is out of print so you may
have to do a bit of looking.

Ed Colbeth Metal Smith, Computer Geek Quincy, MA

When I first started carving a mentor recommended a great book called
"Figure Carving Finesse" by Al Stohlman. The book has lots of
specifics for carving people and plants and animals in bas relief.
This is because the book is for leather workers. Back in my kiddy
days I once got heavily into leather working. Shortly after getting
the book I was using it to help with some wax work on sheet wax
making matching unicorn heads. It suddenly occured to me that all
those skills I had learned at age 8 were in action. The same tools
and techniques I had applied to wet leather could be used on sheet
wax! Every time I work this way now I always remember how it felt to
be 8.

Epaul Fischer
Gryphon Song Creations
in (temporarily) sunny Phoenix - long after a dry rainy season we’re
getting rained on every other day!

Larry S. asked what other interests Orchidites may have that help to
inspire us. I like old farm tools. I’ve got axes, sledge hammers,
scythes, hay forks, corn planters, saws, a single tree,planting
stakes, a chicken catcher, and more if I go look, sort of on display
around my house along with crocks, etc. I like to look at the way the
metal is fastened on to the wood and the look of age in the wood and
metal, the repair done to keep the item working and also the precision
and balance that the maker used to make the item useful. When I’m out
wandering through antique stores and sheds I am drawn to all the old
tools. They were really so ingenious and just holding them there is
such comfort in the grip, how they perfectly fit the hand. That’s one
thing I love about making a piece of jewelry out of precious metal.
The item will show wear and use and many years from now someone who
picks up the piece will wonder who made the piece and why and with
what thought. I’m from Iowa so that explains the farm tool fetish.

One of my favorite books is called Drawing, Design, and Craft-work,
by F.J. Glass. Published in 1920, this is a wellspring of ideas,
and inspiration, as well as some wonderful Art Nouveau
design. I first found it in my local public library, but was dismayed
to find one day that it had been culled and sold. Thanks to
gleaned from the Orchid group, I was able to track it down
from a book finder site and buy my own copy.

As far as other sources of inspiration, everything is grist for the
mill. When I’m truly stuck, I take a walk in a local park and try to
let myself see the patterns in nature. Usually something catches my
eye, whether it’s the lines of a tree branch, patterns of ripples
around a rock, or an interesting seed pod, and I start to envision
pieces of jewelry.

Janet Kofoed


I’m from Oklahoma so I know what your talking about with respect to
old farm machinary and tools. I remember spending summers at my
grandparents farm and pretending that the old rusting machines from
days long past were dragons and monsters that needed a good fight.
Now that I am older I have a new appreciation of them. Nice to know
others do, too.



Although it is a book on jewelrymaking, the old reprint of Jewelry
Making and Design, by Rose and Cirino has both lovely Arts and Crafts
era designs and a very interesting section on designing from nature
along with a section on producing renderings which I find very
helpful. Interesting how people from that era reproduced curves and
motifs from nature in their work.



I have several full size reproductions of 19th century design
encyclodepias that depict design from all over the world and all
periods of history. I’ve found many ideas paging through them.


Hi! I looked up your book, “Treatises of Benvenuto Cellini on
Goldsmithing & Sculpture” at Powells (Washington State) they’re out but you could join (free)
and they offer you their next available (new or used). Supposedly
they’re the largest used bookstore on or off the net, All the used
books I’ve gotten from them have been in great condition and a
exceptional values, too. Their search engine can be a little touchy as
titles are case sensitive even to unusual capitalization of articles,
so search by author (with and without initials) and by topics as well!
Good hunting! Ed

I have recently found inspiration in a book “Queen Elizabeth’s
Wardrobe Unlock’d” by Janet Arnold (ISBN)0901286206. It gives a
detailed account of gold an silver lace in the Queen’s wardrobe (my
main interest), but it also includes a chapter about her jewelry
(“Designs for Jewellery and Embroidery: their Sources and
Symbolism”). Throughout the book, the author emphasizes that on the
contrary to the popular belief, Elizabeth I. did not spent excessive
amounts of money on her wardrobe. She was apparently very clever in
organizing her wardrobe for the most impressive effect. Also, many
exquisite clothes and jewels were presented to her by courtiers…

…which brings to my mind Suzanne’s question about a purpose of
contemporary jewellery. Aren’t we missing something?

Lenka Renaissance Art of Handmade Lace

Jewelry books as inspiration: As mentioned earlier, “Jewelry Making
and Design” by Rose and Cirino from the 1940s is great (Dover
Publications). Not only does it show the design process and
construction of lots of Arts and Crafts and Deco looking jewelry, but
it also conveys a very classical approach to sculpting and making
jewelry in general.

Tim McCreight’s book, “Complete Metalsmith” is so full of information
and easy to read that it cannot be left off my list.

But probably my all time favorite is Phillip Morton’s “Contemporary
Jewelry” from the 60’s (Holt Rinehart Winston). It may be difficult
to find these days. It was my inspiration and I poured over every
photo and procedure until the book fell apart and I kept it together
with rubber bands.

And then there are the non-jewelry books that get my mind clicking.
Books on architecture, graphic design, fashion design, interior
design and high tech design. Between those and the world around us, I
have never run dry of ideas, just the time to bring them to fruition.


Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: 415-391-4179
fax: 415-391-7570

Let’s not forget the wonderful foreign jewelry magazines for
inspiration. The German Schmuck is my favorite with Vogue Gioiello is
a close second. I love to spend a few hours at barnes and Noble
pouring over the Europea n fashion magazines. And my clippings files
OH MY GOD! fashion, photograp hy, jewelry, human figure, sculpture,
they are an inspiration when ever I go back and look through them

Resonating what Alan Revere has commented, Phillip Morton’s book
’Contemporary Jewelry’ was highly inspirational for me as well.

I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Morton as a neighbor during the
summers when I was very young and he was the first artist I came to
know. Seeing his work and his studio left a lasting impression on me
and was very formative in my becoming an artist myself. Phillip Morton
is one of the founders of The Society of North American Goldsmiths and
was very instrumental in the development and recognition of the
art-jewelry movement in the 1960s in the USA.

Another excellent work on the jewelry of the middle twentieth century
detailing what was happening in Europe far ahead of the American
movement, is ‘Contemporary Jewelry, A Critical Assessment 1945-1975’ by
Ralph Turner. ISBN 0-442-28639-2

My new favorite book for inspiration and genuine awe is a present I
received recently from my dear friend and colleague Sigrid Schneider,
in Vienna. It is the work of The German artist Freidrich Becker
(1922-1997) entitled ‘Schmuck.Kinetik.Objekte’
(Jewellery.Kinetics.Objects). ISBN 3-925369-76-7. In my humble opinion
Mr. Becker’s creations are foremost among goldsmiths, past and
present. He was the inventor of kinetic jewelry and one of the fathers
of Modernism and a true pioneer in the realm of jewelry making.

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist Michael Sturlin
Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA