Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Book from Mary Wales Loomis!

I was SO excited to receive this beautiful Wire Jewelry book newly published by my friend Mary Wales Loomis! Mary and I go way back... I interviewed her several years ago for a profile that I wrote for Belle Armoire magazine (I created Belle Armoire and launched it in the spring of 2001). From the start, I was struck by her artistry with heavy-gauge wire.
Mary learned her craft the old-fashioned way back in the 1970s when street artists were selling their jewelry made from heavy brass wire. There were no books, videos, DVDs or CDs, and certainly nothing available on the Internet such as tutorials or articles explaining how to shape and forge wire to make unique jewelry pieces. Mary had to figure it out for herself, and I applaud her for that!
"I went to the hardware store and bought some brass wire in different gauges and a pair of pliers," Mary explains in her new book. "I began 'drawing' with the wire. For inspiration and ideas I went to the library and checked out books on ancient jewelry from Egypt, Italy and Greece. I noted that they had always used nature for ideas. My favorite shape is butterfly wings. I didn't know how to solder, so I tied the pieces together with smaller gauge wire."
If you want to read more of Mary's fascinating story, you'll have to pick up a copy of her beautiful book. I've looked it over several times now, and I simply love it. This is not a how-to book, but a portfolio of some of her unusual jewelry designs. But I find it very inspirational to see how Mary has used common materials such as brass wire and copper tubing to make her amazing ethnic-inspired art jewelry.
She does give us some glimpses into her process, explaining for instance that a butterfly pendant was shaped with "about 30 inches of 14ga wire," along with some really basic information on how she ties things together with finer gauges of wire. You'll have to figure it out from there, because this is not an instructional book. Nevertheless, I think you'll find this book a very valuable resource to turn to when you run out of ideas (this happens to us all) or when you just feel the need for some eye-candy.
Details: Wire Jewelry is a 70-page, full color paperback book of gorgeously photographed jewelry pieces with basic descriptions of each piece, but no instructions. It is well presented and concisely written, lots of fun to look at, and very inspirational. It retails for about $30 with tax (in California) and shipping. For information on purchasing Wire Jewelry, please click here.
Mary's book reminds me a lot of another terrific wire-jewelry book that I purchased three years ago featuring the artist portfolio of Alexander Calder. His book is called Calder Jewelry, and it too is a portfolio of brass wire jewelry designs dating back to the 1950s or so. No instructions, of course.
It seems to be out of print now so you'll have to purchase the book used. I found some vendors on Amazon.com offering it for slightly over $100 in paperback, and over $300 in hardcover. I'm so glad I bought it in hardcover (and another copy for a good friend of mine) back when it was much more reasonably priced!
Check it out here: Calder Jewelry 
I hope you enjoy having a look at these two books. I always find it helpful when I'm not in a creative mood myself to look at the artwork made by others who are highly creative and original. So many jewelry "artists" calling themselves "designers" have never actually designed an original piece of jewelry in their lives, so it's truly inspirational to view the work of such artists as Calder and Loomis, and see that it is indeed possible to make art, real art, with wire.
Happy wrapping,


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