Book Review – Jewelry Contemporary Design and Techniques

Today’s metalsmith and jewelry designer has available a full range of reference books—from the general text, which gives a broad overview, to the topical text, which explores a specific technique in great detail. In addition, we now have the popular bench reference guide and the glamorous coffee-table version.

Jewelry Contemporary Design and Techniques
By Chuck Evans
Davis Publications, Worcester, MA, 1983
296 pages, 566 illustrations, 30 in color; $24.95

The last 10 to 15 years has witnessed a renaissance in the field of metalsmithing which has brought about expanded technical exploration and its documentation in book form. Certainly, it’s hard to believe that in 1969 when I took my first metals course there were but two or three books readily available on the subject.

When I received Jewelry, Contemporary Design and Techniques, I asked myself, what could possibly be different about this book? Hadn’t every imaginable topic already been covered? What immediately intrigued me was that I had always admired Evans’s work. Flipping through the pages I was struck with how this book reflected the personality evident in Evans’s work. While it offers an excellent chapter on basic techniques, it also covers such areas as surface enrichment, inlay, laminations and chainmaking.

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The book is aimed at the metalsmilh with some experience. It has numerous photos, good illustrations and most important clear, step-by-step directions.

This book can be picked up and read in part or cover-to-cover. It is easy to find information or refer back. Particularly interesting is the chapter on “Surface Enrichment,” which describes such techniques as roller printing, etching, torch textures and working metals such as titanium and aluminum.

The chapter on “Casting” is thorough. Rarely have I seen sprueing and burnout handled with detail and clarity. Here the author gives accurate advice. The two most interesting and unique chapters are “Inlay” and “Laminations.” There have been many articles and short “how tos” written about these two popular techniques. Here the information is brought together. The chapters are visually interesting (some of the most exciting work appears here), and the processes are clear and well documented. The chapters can offer a student an excellent transition point or clarified review. Having used many of the processes myself, I can attest that they are accurate. Further, these chapters offer unlimited design possibilities.

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This is an interesting and well-written book. It is unfortunate that a higher design standard was not employed in the selection of the work used as examples. Most of the work is weak esthetically and the photos are of poor quality. This is regrettable because the text is well done and easy to read. For the metalsmith who is confident with basic techniques, this book should offer design inspiration and solid reference.

By Paula S. Dinneen
Metalsmith Magazine - 1984 Spring
In association with SNAG's
Metalsmith magazine, founded in 1980, is an award winning publication and the only magazine in America devoted to the metal arts.
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