Book Review – Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry
This book is an expert and concise introduction to the world of carving gem materials. You could actually do it if you studied the book carefully. It offers an insight into this world, tickles you with hints of new techniques and is a solid grounding in the thinking required for working these materials into carved shapes.
Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry
The table of contents is clear and readable, lots of white space and good headings so that if one were fishing for specifics one could easily find them. The book however lacks an index for quick searches. It begins with a comment that so much has happened in recent years that it could not be covered in this volume and so this is a re-issue of a good text first printed in 1980. It was felt it was important to get the current information out again until a new all encompassing picture and information book could be published. It is promised soon. If it is an improvement on this one it will be a major work for this field.
The text is lucid and easy to read as it is split into two columns on the page. A deep understanding of light and its relationship to gem materials and cutting is given in the first chapter. The bent is not drily scientific but instead the warm voice of experience. The black and white photographs are good and suffice for broad information but due to their high contrast suffer in the subtle details discussed in the text, and the same is true throughout the book.
A good case is made that in practice hardness is not a great consideration in choosing materials for use in jewelry. The text is sprinkled with littl e bits of experience and hard won information; which gem materials do this or that: descriptions of their nature. Carving materials are discussed in terms of ease of use and applicability.
This is a really knowledgeable text. It is obviously condensed with almost every sentence loaded with information. Areas apparently successfully addressed include carving principles, tool making, surface options, drilling and piercing, all manner of specific shapes and problems in carving and then chapters on specific materials from the carvers point of view. The stones described in detail include all the commonly cut materials as well as synthetic materials.
If you are interested in knowing how to carve gem materials with a minimum of fuss and specialized equipment this one is for you. It is loaded with cutter’s tricks and cheap ways to make effective tools including ones own silicon carbide cutting tools. I’ve never seen a book before that goes through the home version of industrial firing procedures necessary to make professional gem carving tools. Henry Hunt is obviously a master cutter, someone who understands his material and how to work it. Despite an initial dry feel and rough quality photographs this is an excellent book for someone who wants to know about this field whether a collector, goldsmith or lapidary.If we were rating it like a movie show on T.V. out of 8 stars this would be a six and a half having lost one star due to the photos. The cover of this book has a strong, a little naive graphic look to it with a ‘southwest feel’.
There is a very good safety warning page at the front of the book with an ‘additional safety disclaimer’ in a grey box. It is a truly sad commentary that as an author one is really concerned about being sued for wrongfully applied information. Unlike other fields like medicine or science in jewelry greed sometimes seems to be uppermost and authors have in the past been successfully sued by readers who misused the information given. It irritates me that some of us ‘mess our own nest’ as metalsmiths and stop the information flow by suing people for their publications.
The book is published by GeoScience Press which publishes among other books John Sinkakas’s extraordinary volume ‘Gemstone and Mineral Data Book‘ which should be in every serious metalsmiths library.