Category Archives: Book reviews

Clasps 4,000 Years of Fasteners in Jewellery by Anna Tabakhova

This week I have been taking a look at jeweller and collector Anna Tabakhova’s book ‘Clasps: 4000 years of fasteners in Jewellery’ which details a fascination with the fastener throughout the ages and I’ve already changed my attitude towards the clasp as just a means to an end.

From Egyptian times the oldest removable clasp followed on from the simple knot. Older styles of closure would have been perishable so ancient clasps remain a mystery. The discreet closure created by two simple joining folds date from 2000 BC.

Interlocking twists, nesting boxes, slot and slide, pin and hinge, ball and loop, double hooks, screws, and sliding balls or a junction box where two slides meet in a decorative feature, pins with safety chains are all details as aesthetic solutions to join sides. Like the puzzle clasp by Petr Dvorak, here, attention has not been spared but painstakingly lavished on an intricate fixing to keep this piece about your person.

Rings and pendants traditionally act as the focus for fancy settings, enamelling and elaborate details. Here we see necklaces where the clasp is not pushed to the back but is the focus point of the piece as, more conventionally, a pendant would be. And fasten your seat belts for the section on transforming jewels, from necklaces to tiaras with clever mechanisms. Day (well a very fancy day) to-night pieces with a series of catches. A bird brooch whose wings can fly off to become earrings.

The author set out to make an art book and technical manual based on historical research which began with her own collections, then moved on to museum and private collections. This resulted in a marvel of inspiring colour images and 28 original illustrations which could give you the closure you need for your next collection or inspire a lifetime of clever clasps for your jewellery making. So not just pretty pictures (although this book does provide a wide range of beautifully selected pieces throughout the ages). Surely there must be a catch!? Nope, the clasp isn’t for everyone apparently. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel is quoted as saying ‘I hate clasps! I got rid of clasps’ and the figure-hugging designs that resulted from this aversion are detailed in these pages.


I had a very nice time consulting this book that acts as a cross-section of jewellery through time, without ever realising that I had a particular interest in what keeps pieces together. I also enjoyed chancing upon this little scene above from the authors’ Twitter feed. In conclusion, it’s clear that the appreciation of clasps is not a simple open and shut case.

Want to try making your own findings to keep your pieces on your person? Try our Make your own Silver Findings class.

Catch you later.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting. You can see her work on instagram @smalltoad_jewellery

Narrative Jewelry by Mark Fenn-Book Review


Narrative jewelry by Mark Fenn

Tell me about it. As anyone that has ever asked about my jewellery making knows, every piece tells a tale, even the plainest looking ring. Jewellery goes on adventures with you, reminds you of a person, holiday or the mistake you made that made it look so cool. Pieces often have their own lives that are special to the wearer, but Narrative Jewelry by Mark Fenn is a delightful investigation into the creators who set out to tell a story with their work. And we thought that today, National Handmade Day, would be a great day to share our thoughts on this fantastic book.

This hefty tome features 241 inspiring jewellers. Their comedy, politics, puns and personal lives are spun out in metal and yarn (and soap, resin, plastic, paper, models, cigarettes and gemstones) on the pages. Life-changing moments as well as the horror and beauty of the everyday are given equal importance by the memorial created in their honour. Clear colour images and accompanying descriptions tell their tales and the pieces are a broad spectrum of the most interesting jewellery out there today.

Nick Palmer’s piece was made as a theoretical commission; a task I would highly recommend. Fantasy dinner party surely can’t compare.

Not only does this beautiful book show how jewellery can skillfully be used to tell a story or do more than just be pretty, it shows a way to embrace a wide range of techniques used by skilled international jewellers. It’s the kind of book that you want to sit down and read like a novel, but the images distract you with their own little stories. It’s a great book, all of the tutors want to steal it off me when I am looking at it, I can tell. For a teaser a maker is featured online each week here.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting. You can see her work on instagram @smalltoad_jewellery



New book from tutor Julia Rai ‘Making metal clay jewellery’

We interviewed LJS metal clay tutor Julia Rai about her exciting first book ‘Making metal clay jewellery’


julia-rai-london-jewellery-school-blogJulia Rai is an artist, writer and teacher working predominately in metal clay. She has a teaching studio based just outside St Austell in Cornwall, UK and is a visiting tutor at the London Jewellery School.

Well known in the international metal clay community, she has been working with metal clay since 2004 and teaching it since 2007. She holds a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, the Higher Metal Clay Diploma, PMC Certification from Rio Grande and is an Art Clay Senior Instructor. She also holds the City and Guilds 7407 Further Education Teaching Qualification.

She is the Director of the Metal Clay Academy, an online resource for everyone interested in metal clay. Her spare time is currently taken up with working on projects for the metal clay Masters Registry and she has achieved Registry IV, the first person in the world to achieve this level.

She writes regularly for a number of magazines including Making Jewellery and Dolls House in the UK and the international Metal Clay Artist Magazine which is now online at Creative Fire.

She has just completed her first book ‘Making metal clay jewellery’ which is now available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.


julia-rai-making-metal-clay-jewellery-london-jewellery-school-blogWho is the book for?

It’s aimed at those new to metal clay and/or those who are dabbling at home and need a reference book. I’ve covered all the types of fine silver clay – lump, sheet/paper type, paste and syringe in separate chapters so people can refer directly to the type of clay they are interested in. And of course, there are ways to combine these types covered in the book.


What types of project feature in the book?

It’s all jewellery. I’ve focused on making pieces of jewellery using the different types of silver clay and also included using glass, stones etc with the clay. There’s a chapter on making rings and one on hollow form beads too.


Do I need a kiln to make the projects in the book or can I use my torch?

Some require a kiln – like the glass and metal clay project – but many can be torch fired. I make it clear in the book which firing method would be best for the project and were the requirement is for kiln firing. For instance, it’s not pleasant – or safe – to fire something with a cork or wood clay core using a torch.


What is your favourite project in the book?

That’s a very hard question to answer as I enjoyed making everything. I think if I had to choose, it would be the glass and metal clay piece as this is colourful. As the book focuses on silver clay, the pieces are all silvery so having a bit of colour makes a nice change.


Why do you like working with metal clay?

Ever since I first discovered it, I’ve loved the accessibility and ease of working with it. The fact that you can teach a total novice to make a pendant and a pair of earrings in a three hour session is one of the reasons I love running taster classes. Often people say they didn’t believe they could make something so lovely and they are surprised by their own abilities. I love that.


Where can I buy the book and when is it published?

It is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US now. I will also be selling copies from the CSACJ website with the option for people to get a signed copy. And I’ll be taking some to the You Can Make It event being run by Metal Clay Ltd in March.


When will you be teaching at LJS this year?

I’ll be teaching the Art Clay Diploma Level 1 on 14th – 16th April and Level 2 on 26th – 29th May.



10 jewellery books for your christmas list

When it comes to books for jewellery and inspiration we still prefer leafing through a physical book rather than a digital one. Here are a few of our favourites, old and new, and some ideas for your christmas list…

1. For pure inspiration:

The fabulous jewels sold by Christies and the stories behind them:


Christies: the jewellery archives revealed by Vincent Meyland published by ACC Art books


A lavish look at precious metals and gemstones alongside beautiful photos of how they have been used to make jewellery:


Jewel: a celebration of earth’s treasures, foreword by Judith Miller. Published by Dorling Kindersley


We love the ‘500’ series which also includes books on earrings, art necklaces, bracelets. We’d love a set of them all! Full of inspiring photos of pieces made by artists using traditional and nontraditional materials:


500 earrings: new directions in contemporary jewelry. Published by Lark books


2. For how to guides

Written by our founder Jessica Rose, this book of bead and wire projects also looks at how to get inspired using mood boards and collages:


Bead and wire fashion jewelry by Jessica Rose. Published by GMC


A classic must have book for all silversmiths:


The complete metalsmith by Tim McCreight. Published by Davis Publications.


From using bought mounts to making your own, this book covers a large range of stone setting techniques:


Stonesetting for contemporary jewellery makers by Melissa Hunt. Published by Search Press Ltd


A practical guide to what to do when things go wrong!


Successful jewellery maker: problems, solutions and best practice by Frieda Munro


30 metal clay projects collated by Making Jewellery magazine editor Sian Hamilton:,204,203,200_.jpg

Metal clay jewellery workshop: handcrafted designs and techniques by Sian Hamilton. Published by GMC


3. For jewellery business

This book, written by a successful jewellery business owner based in London, discusses all aspects of setting up your business:


Setting up a successful jewellery business by Angie Boothroyd. Published by A & C Black Publishers Ltd.


Looking at the business side of being a jewellery artist:


How to create your own jewelry line by Emilie Shapiro. Published by Lark Books.


What jewellery book have you got on your Christmas list? Let us know in the comments below.


Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Essential additions to your jewellery library

At London Jewellery School we have been lucky enough to receive review copies of the first two books in a new series of jewellery books put together by the editor of Making Jewellery magazine editor Sian HamiltonStringing and Linking Jewelry Workshop and Wirework Jewelry Workshop.


Each book brings together clear and comprehensive technique sections with a wide range of projects previously published in the magazine.


The result is two clearly laid out books with plenty of attractive photography showing all the stages of the various common techniques and the projects. This clean look make the book very attractive as well as useful.

The projects have been chosen to give plenty of variety in techniques and styles – so there is something for everyone and plenty of inspirations for your jewellery making.


These books are a great addition to any beader or wireworker’s bookshelf. For beginners they will help develop technical skills and provide interesting jewellery making challenges. For more experienced makers, they will act as a useful resouce on various skills and a source of ideas.

Please note that Sian will be speaking at our evening of jewellery sector talks on 28 May 2015. Click here for details.


A step by step craft business guide

London Jewellery School’s marketing co-ordinator Bronagh Miskelly is also building her own craft business and has come across a useful UK business guide for anyone thinking of selling their own handmade or craft items.

I have been trying to pin point what I need/want from a guide to running a craft business.

The following would be useful:

  • That it is written from a UK perspective – the UK and US experiences are very different from how people approach craft to the sizes of the fairs you might sell at.
  • That it addresses those perennial questions about pricing and valuing your work
  • That it actually encourages me to get on with promoting and selling my work rather than wallow in a sea of self-doubt (makers are great at talking down rather than up their work)
  • That it doesn’t make the whole process seem too overwhelming.

So when I chanced upon Your Craft Business – A step by step guide by Kevin Partner in a list of Kindle bargains of the day (it’s also available in paperback), I was very pleased to find a book that fitted very much with my wish list.


biz book

Partner and his wife actually run a craft business as well as him being an expert business writer. So he is able to write from the perspective of their business as well as sharing case studies from other small craft businesses.

Running a craft business means that Partner has got to know other makers and sellers and learnt what makes us tick. Something that is summed up by a few lines from the introduction:

“With a little money (many craft businesses can establish themselves on a budget of less than £100) and the talent and determination you already have, you can create a profitable business in next to no time.

“I have faith in you. All I ask is that you believe in yourself, strap yourself in, grab a notebook and enjoy the ride.”

Sticking with this down to earth style the book takes you through the steps of working out what products will sell and how to put those products in front of people who want to buy them at the right price and run it all legally.

Along the way he sets milestones such as “Make your plan” and “Sort out your website” so that building your business can be done piece by piece.

In particular the book takes a detailed look at the areas that hold many of us back from starting a craft business.

  • The self doubt mentioned above – bluntly he tells us to get out and look at what other people are doing. Are our skills as good as theirs? Yes? Then go for it.
  • Pricing and creating a premium service – Partner is clear about the importance of actually making money and offers advice of a range of pricing strategies including creating a premium aura around what you do.
  • The fear of failure. Is not selling at your first craft fair a failure or is it an opportunity to help you refine your product/collection or pricing strategy? Partner’s matter of fact discussion of the topic should make you feel more confident about dipping a toe in the water.

Over all this is not the only business book you should have on your shelf but it is one that I think every craft business would find useful both as a blueprint for getting started and for dipping into when you need reassurance or a new approach.

We have it in the London Jewellery School library so you can take a look and see if you agree with me next time you are in the studios.

Book review: Behind the brooch

London Jewellery School tutor Anna Campbell reviews a sumptuous new jewellery book that takes a look at the less seen side of jewellery.

behind the brooch, jewellery making


Jewellery artist Lorena Angulo did not start out with the idea of writing a book. She was interested in the backs of jewellery, particularly brooches.

How did others make the pin mechanism? How did they decorate the back of the piece? So she created a pinterest board to collect together some images. Lorena mentioned this to Brigitte Martin of Crafthaus (a membership based online community of craft artists) and she ended up curating an online exhibition for Crafthaus and the  Behind the brooch followed on.

This beautiful hardback book, just published worldwide, features hundreds of excellent quality photos of the back (and the front!) of some fantastic pieces of jewellery. I was particularly inspired by being able to study the mechanics of the brooch pin, often overlooked but one of the most crucial parts for the jewellery maker to get right.

It is delightful to see so many examples and different ways that these artists have found to do this. I had a few ah-ha moments when studying these contrasting solutions.

The books also displays how artists have decorated the back of the brooch, a place that is like a secret between the artist and the wearer and demonstrates the artistry of each maker.

Every brooch in the book, made by jewellery artists worldwide, is worth studying in detail. The brooches are primarily metal however there are examples of other media and mixed media. Each artist has written a short summary about their inspiration and what the back means to them and I found that this added to my appreciation of each piece.

This is a book I know I’ll keep coming back to and should be in your collection if you want a lot of inspiration and are serious about creating beautiful pieces of art.

 Anna Campbell is an experienced teacher and enjoys different types of jewellery making including beading and metal clay. She runs her own business, Light Boat Jewellery and has made jewellery for celebrities.



Book Review Stone setting for Fine Jewellery

Continuing our series of reviews of jewellery making books,  we asked  stone setting tutor Gill Newton to look at Stonesetting for Fine Jewellery – Tools Techniques Gemstones by Paul Leibold, 2014 .

Stone setting is a specialist and extensive subject and Liebold’s book is a useful addition.

stone setting

Stonesetting for Fine Jewellery

With contents pages more akin to an index it is easy to get a feel for the breadth of the subject. Liebold, a trained Goldsmith, gemstone setter and lecturer, gives a clear insight, suitable for the advanced jeweller  to dip into as they work on a commissioned piece or to the dedicated student with basic stone setting skills and keen to deepen their understanding.

The three chapters cover Tools, Stone Setting and Gemstones with simple explanations supported by diagrams and photographs on clear spacious pages.

For those practitioners interested in the technical aspect of the stone setter’s tools it will be especially useful. That there’s a brief yet informative section on Creating Settings using CAD/CAM is appreciated though this book really is a resource for those of us who want to work with our hands using established techniques and processes. With just about every variation on bezel, flush, channel, prong and graver settings included, tips on how to take settings apart to reset or remove the gemstone or how to deal with damage to a gemstone, I am happy to recommend this book for the jeweller’s studio.

If you want to share a review of an inspirational jewellery book, drop an email to

Book Review: 1000 Beads

Continuing our reviews of inspiring jewellery books, Anna Campbell takes a look a must for all bead lovers.

jewellery making

If you’re not familiar with publisher Lark Crafts500 series’ of books then you’re in for a treat. Each book features 500 gorgeous pieces of contemporary craft following a theme and with titles such as 500 rings and 500 pendants and lockets (among others) there are lots (and lots!) of gorgeous pieces to inspire.


beads jewellery making


The latest book gives us even more – 1000 beads. Beads have been made and worn for at least 40,000 years with many beautiful examples being found at archaeological digs. The importance of jewellery and adornment through the centuries has been demonstrated with beads being found in graves and featured in art including sculpture.

The latest offering from Lark Crafts is an enchanting book to flick through or pore over featuring beads made from artists from all over the world (including Lynne Glazzard from Yorkshire whose silver clay, enamel and glass lampwork beads feature on the front cover). This satisfyingly weighty book will appeal to all those with a love of jewellery and jewellery making. T

he beads are made by contemporary artists from many types of materials from the more traditional glass, silver, ceramic and enamel to metal clay, polymer clay, felt, paper, beadweaving and bone. Some of the images are of individual beads, some of a collection of beads or a piece like a necklace. All are worthy of inclusion in a book juried by Kristina Logan, international recognised for her glass bead artistry.

It is a lovely book to flick through and marvel at the artistry. Definitely a book (and a series) for the jewellery makers bookcase.

Anna Campbell is an experienced teacher and enjoys different types of jewellery making including beading and metal clay. She runs her own business, Light Boat Jewellery and has made jewellery for celebrities.

If you want to share a review of an inspirational jewellery book, drop an email to



Book review: Polymer clay

This is the first in an occasion series of post where London Jewellery School staff, tutors and perhaps even students tell us about their favourite jewellery books or review new ones. Today’s post is from Emily Jones, the school’s deputy manager and a self-confessed polymer clay addict.

I love making jewellery and other things with polymer clay. It is a really colourful, fun and versatile medium to work with, but best of all it is relatively inexpensive compared to silversmithing or metal clay.

I have learnt most of what I know about working with polymer clay from these two brilliant books.

The Art and Craft of Polymer Clay  by Sue Heaser

This is the first ever polymer clay book I picked up and reading it quickly cemented my love for this medium, as well as making me eager to buy some clay and get making.

Sue Heaser explains a variety of techniques from the basics to more advanced including simulations, inclusions and sculpting. There are a lots of great projects to try, several of which I have done and do come out in accordance with the photos (my skills aren’t quite equal to Heaser’s, but even so, the results are reassuringly similar).

What is great about The Art and Craft of Polymer Clay is that Heaser also explains about the different types of clay available, tools, equipment and other materials that you can use with polymer clay.

The Basic Technique section is really clear and well laid out with the combination of step-by-step instructions and accompanying images. The colour-mixing page is also great as is the description of how to blend colours.

I have no qualms in recommending this book to anyone and would give it 5/5
The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques  by Donna Kato

Donna Kato is such a fan of polymer clay that she developed her own version Kato Polyclay.

The best thing about this book is that it is written by a true polymer clay artist.

At the beginning she goes into detail on the ‘characteristics of polymer clay’, explaining about the different polymer clay brands and how they can be used together.

The joy of this book lies in the detailed Millefiori techniques – as well as the variety of cane ideas/techniques – including kaleidoscope, checkerboard and tiles. Like Heaser’s book, it made me want to get making, so this book became a happy addition to my polymer clay library. This is a great source of inspiration and I would give it 4/5 –  in some places it isn’t as easy to follow as Heaser’s and it is possibly not for the beginner, but definitely has projects to aspire to.

London Jewellery School has both of these books in our library, so if you would like to have a look through before purchasing your own copy, please do come and have a look, Mon – Sun, 10-5pm. If you have a specific book in mind that you want to look at, it would be worth calling us on 020 3176 0546 before you come in, to check whether it is being used in a class.

And if you want to share a review of an inspirational jewellery book, drop an email to