Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

New books, including Narrative Jewelry: Tales from the Toolbox.
Published on Friday, July 27, 2018. This article appears in the June/July 2018 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
JJ18 book covers
Mark LaFavor

Narrative Jewelry: Tales from the Toolbox
By Mark Fenn
Schiffer Publishing, $60

If you’re curious about what constitutes narrative jewelry – after all, isn’t there a story behind every craft piece? – this is the book for you. Mark Fenn, a British maker and curator, has pulled together a lush international survey of work by almost 250 jewelers.

Readers of this magazine will be familiar with many of the American makers featured in Narrative Jewelry – Bruce Metcalf, Harriete Estel Berman, Nancy Lee Worden, and David and Roberta Williamson among them. But there are many surprises from across the ocean, namely Europe and Australia. Materials range from traditional metals and gemstones to plastics, polymer, organic matter, and found objects.

The best feature of the book, besides the delectable images, is the excellent, concise description of the narrative that undergirds almost every work shown. Those explanations make sense out of jewelry – some of it barely wearable – that might otherwise seem esoteric. Narrative jewelry can be cerebral and challenging; but, as this book shows, it doesn’t have to be inaccessible. ~Monica Moses

Art as Jewellery: From Calder to Kapoor
By Louisa Guinness
ACC Art Books, $75

“Some people would like a Picasso on their wall; others prefer to wear one.” So begins collector and gallerist Louisa Guinness’ expansive overview of the wearable art created by those better known for painting, sculpture, or photography. The book is a fun, nonacademic introduction to famed artists through what Guinness aptly describes as “small sculpture” for neck, ear, and finger. But art historians, too, will enjoy skimming its pages and gasping with surprise at the legends they’ll find, including Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, and Yayoi Kusama.

Through her eponymous London gallery, Guinness continues to commission pieces by artists new to the medium, resulting in sophisticated experiments in adornment – and an invitation to novice art collectors. Art as Jewellery, she hopes, will further this work and bring the two worlds even closer together. This reviewer, in turn, hopes that more female makers and artists of color will be celebrated in a second edition. ~Megan Guerber

A Jeweler’s Guide to Apprenticeships
By Nanz Aalund
MJSA Press, $30

Apprenticeships seem easy enough – just invite somebody into your studio and teach them what you know, right? In practice, though, taking on a new apprentice can pose unforeseen challenges. Artists must juggle teaching and producing, be aware of studio safety, and make sure both parties benefit from the collaboration. It can be difficult to strike the right balance.

A Jeweler’s Guide to Apprenticeships helps guide artists through every step of the process, from finding the right candidate to acquainting them with safety, terminology, and fundamental skills. The book includes numerous quizzes on tools, along with best practices that makers can share with their students and first-person stories of rewarding collaborations. Taking on an apprentice may not be as simple as it seems at first glance, but Aalund demonstrates that, done right, it can be an invaluable experience for teacher and student alike. ~Robert O’Connell