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Mixed Metal Mania Book Review


Mixed Metal Mania, by Kim St. James, is an outstanding metalsmith book, teaching solder, rivet, hammer and wire jewelry methods. Everything you need to learn about beginning metalsmithing can be found in this book. Metalsmithing tools, techniques and unique projects that are easy to follow and learn. Kim St. Jean is an innovative metalsmith artist as well as an excellent teacher. Kim teaches metalsmithing at the well respected William Holland School of Lapidary Arts and at The Bead and Button show, to name a few.

The variety of tools and techniques introduced, along with 27 different projects, takes you beyond the basic skills. The lettered, step by step photography by Margaret Bray contributes to the methodical, instructional style of the book. Published in 2011 by Kambach Books, it can still be found in bookstores and on Amazon.

The beginning of the book explains the tools and techniques, with the bulk of the book covering metal projects. She provides details about metalsmith tools and what they are used for, along with tips on storing them. She even describes using found items as tools. There are tips about tightening a loose hammerhead, straightening wire, and treating torch burns. The components of a basic tool kit are covered and describe only what you need to start off. Techniques are explained in the next section very clearly with the lettered photography illustrating the details.

One of my favorite projects is the Turtle Bezel Line Fold. This project teaches fold form, chasing, patinas and attaching a stone without using the traditional soldered bezel method. The fold form pendant was easy to make and includes a very low-tech method to attach a stone. She teaches a very handy way to attach almost any type of found item.

There is even a casting project. Most beginner instruction books do not include casting, as it is usually a more advanced technique. And again, clear, well-written and illustrated instructions make this a fairly simple project. It is the last project in the book, so once you have gone through the other projects you should be comfortable and ready for casting.

I enjoyed Mixed Metal Mania because it is so well written. Kim St. James' section on unconventional tools sparked my imagination to recycle everyday items for tools and storage. Who doesn't love free stuff? The techniques, taught in the beginning of the book, are reinforced as they are used in the projects. I am not a fan of some of the designs in the projects, but once you learn each technique, it can be used in your own creations.

You will not find an index in the book, which makes it a bit less user friendly. A glossary would also be a helpful reference for readers who need to refer to terms and definitions. Additionally, it would have been helpful to reference the page number to certain techniques, when they are a part of the project being taught. It is up to the reader to remember the technique and where to find that lesson. However, this is an excellent book even without the index, glossary and reference points.

Here is a book with clear instructional steps, good for the beginner just learning the craft. Because it is so well written, it is easy to learn everything that is covered. The projects are fresh and unique, and even an experienced crafter can glean some helpful tips from Kim St. James. I recommend this book for anyone interested in learning metalsmithing.

This book was purchased by me, as part of my personal library.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Susan Mendenhall. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan Mendenhall. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Susan Mendenhall for details.

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