Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review: Amulets and Talismans

Amulets and Talismans: Simple Technique for Creating Meaningful Jewelry, by Robert Dancik

This book is written as a guide to using those little momentos and treasured items you may have saved over the years to create jewelry mixed media with personal, symbolic meaning. The book consists of two main sections, groundwork and creations. The Groundwork section covers materials and techniques, and the Creations section details over twenty projects featuring different techniques and materials.

The descriptions that accompany the materials and techniques in the first section are very thorough, and are clearly and amply illustrated. The materials used are widely available and many of the techniques would be accessible to artists of limited metal working and other jewelry crafting skills. Materials include a variety of 'found' objects, metals (sheet and wire), faux bone, polymer clay, expoxys, paints and glues. Faux Bone is one of the authors favorite materials, and is a relatively new material to the art world. It is non-toxic, comes white but color can be added. It can be shaped and carved.

Many of the descriptions include reasons behind what you are doing, which I find to be very helpful. None of the techniques require any soldering or melting of metals, and instead, rely on what are called 'cold connections,' such as riviting, wiring and glueing. The skills are clearly explained, step by step, with illustrations. For example, there is an excellent and detailed description on how to effectively use a jeweler's saw.

The author encourages the reader to try the techniques and projects in the book as a stepping stone towards one's own journey of discovery. The projects begin with the very basic, and more advanced techniques get added into the mix. As an example, the first project is called a Karma Bracelet, and is described as 'an opportunity for you to include symbols of your past and hopes for your future." The project uses basic tools: wire cutters, hammer, pliers, sandpaper and the materials used are two sizes of wires, a tin can and your own objects, with ideas for what to use in the pictures and description.

Another project is called a story bracelet and is representative of the story of a journey, either real, or symbolic (pictured at left).

The book also includes many other illustrations of similiar projects by other artists to serve as inspiration.

The book is very well done, and I enjoy having it as part of my collection. Like many of my books, this book is mostly useful to me as inspiration. I have not actually made any of the projects, and I have read through them all, and all of the descriptions and photos that accompany them make sense and I think I could follow them. I have availed myself of some of the techniques and used some of the ideas to spark my own. The projects are unique, interesting and varied, and if I were to be making the decision again whether to buy this book or not, I wouldn't be able to resist. It's available at Amazon.com.


Xanthe said...

Great review! this book looks good, I added it to my amazon wishlist.
Thanx for sharing the info.

Kimberly Ingersoll said...

I have lots of books on talismans & amulets in my library, but this book sounds intriguing and approaches the subject in a more creative way. It will be on my holiday wish list. Thanx Mimi for sharing!