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Book Review - The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jinks McGrath

Practical, Clear Information For Beginning Jewellers or Metal Workers

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Front cover of The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jinks McGrath

Front cover of Jinks McGrath's book, "The Complete Jewelry Making Course" published by Barrons' Educational Series Inc.

Barron's Educational Series 2007
Jewelry making is the art of working with metals and gems or stones to make small objects. Many of the tools and techniques of jewellers cross the boundary into other crafts. If you need to learn to work with metal for any reason, Jinks McGrath's book "The Complete Jewelry Making Course" covers classic techniques and tools while walking you through the learning process with well designed projects that develop your skills.

Clear Instructions For A Range of Metals and Metal Smithing Techniques

Soldering, cutting and shaping metal are basic skills used for a range of crafts. The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jinks McGrath clearly outlines the main techniques for working with precious and non precious metals, as well as stones and beads. Information is clearly presented with detailed photographs, as well as descriptions of the major points a beginner needs to reference. Although this book is designed to help a beginner learn how to make jewelry, the information covers beginners techniques for basic metalwork and can be used by anyone who wants to learn to work with a range of metals and metal smithing techniques.

Price and Availability The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jinks McGrath, Barron's Educational Series, 2007, Quarto Publishing. ISBN - 10: 0-7641-3660-7 ISBN - 13: 978-0-7641-3660-3 Price $15 to $20. Large Format Paperback 144 pages.

What the Book Covers

The book is laid out in three chapters with 34 units to cover all the basics of making jewelry. Six practice projects are included to give a beginner experience with the various techniques and each of the book units is referenced to how the technique is applied to a particular project. Lots of inspirational examples of each technique are supplied to help demonstrate the effects which can be created with experience and practice.

Chapter One covers getting started and includes how to find inspiration, using photography for inspiration and to keep a record of your work. The sections on evaluating ideas and translating ideas are particularly useful for beginners as they outline a process for working through a concept to determine which ideas will fly, and which have limited or no potential, as well as how to work out the constuction methods and order of construction which must be considered for metalwork. Further units in the first chapter include information on basic metals and how to order them for a project, making mockups and jigs, and essential tools as well as a jeweller's workbench. Finally the chapter includes information on solders for various metals, stone types and buying tips, and annealing and hardening techniques for metals.

The main work sections of the book fall in Chapter Two which deals with tried and true techniques. These include measuring, transferring and marking patterns onto metal, cutting with a jewellers saw, and cutting wire and tubing. The remainder of the techniques cover annealing various metals, working with pickles, quenching, and cleaning, bending and shaping, joining with hinges, hooks, screws and rivets and soldering. Finally the chapter ends with units on shaping and texturing metal; filing, hammering, casting, dapping, drilling, using formers, texturing, using draw plates and rolling mills. Various technqiues for adding texture, adding stones and fixing fittings are also covered.

The final chapter contains projects set up to practise the techniques covered in the book. This chapter is clearly laid out with the individual projects listed along with the technique units needed to finish them. The projects include a cabochon-set ring, cast cuff links, an etched bangle, wire decorated earrings, a textured pendant, and a circular brooch. None of the projects are particularly difficult or require a lot of materials, but all are very effective for exploring classic jewelry techniques.

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

Anyone who wants to learn to work with metals would find this book a good basic reference and good place to start. This isn't one of the "bible on metal working techniques" for jewellers, but it is a clear, well photographed resource for a beginner who wants to learn what is involved in working with a range of metals and classic techniques. A small weakness of the book is its lack of information on types of torches, and clear information on controlling torch flames. This is usually covered by information supplied with particular torches, so checking with a jewellers supplier is probably of more practical use to a beginner.

The various units are designed to present a technique along with a range of possible uses, and include tips for making the work successful. Tool use is very clearly explained to show how various tools are used to shape metal. The book isn't designed as a 'how to' book for simple jewelery projects, but to introduce the reader to the steps and methods used to accomplish a particular technique, which is then linked to basic, well designed projects.

For miniatures and models, common tools covered include:

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