Reported by Francie Horton
“Sometimes inspiration is so exquisite, the only explanation for it is magic. …A jewelry maker is summoned to create twenty distinct pieces for a group of mysterious friends. With little backstory. The jewelry maker trusts in her client and sets out, traveling to surreal lands and meeting otherworldly creatures. For each piece of jewelry, our traveler enters a portal to other worlds to meet her subjects. While there, she picks up clues to their personalities, sketches patterns and ideas, and notices colors, all of which come into play to create the resulting pieces via easy and unexpected methods.
She documents each of her visits in a sketchbook, which she shares in this chapter, with a diary entry, illustrations, and project notes. Complete materials lists and instructions follow for each entry, many even including a variation on the technique. The result is twenty unique projects and project variations that are utterly personal to the subjects who inspired them. Join this seeker of curiosities. As her story unfolds, so does the magic, and with it, her techniques, materials, tools, and instructions – all of which are of earthly persuasion.” P. 48 Enchanted Adornments
Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios has had a couple of buns in the oven this past year. One was their family’s new baby, Max, who was born November 5th. (edit: Max was actually born Halloween. Thank you to his Uncle Andrew, Cynthia’s brother, for the correction.) Congratulations!
The second was this beautiful book, Enchanted Adornments. I’ve been a long-time reader of the Green Girl blog and have watched with fascination as Cynthia designed and developed the book. One of the things she said in the beginning was “I am now very aware of how much work it takes to complete a book and can hardly believe how much is left to do!” I have to say I have never seen anyone put this much detail, work, and love into a book. She was responsible for:
- Writing techniques and project instructions
- Writing beautiful stories
- Pen and ink illustrations
- 20 projects, some with variations, that get progressively more difficult toward the back of the book – I read that Cynthia sketches every project out ahead of time, sometimes several times, and makes test pieces before the final piece.
- Props for some of the photos
About the only thing she didn’t do was the photo styling and the photography. They’re both done very well, though… perfectly suited to the feel of the book. (Edit: According to Andrew Thornton, Cynthia’s brother, she was involved in this aspect as well. “The other is that she actually did work on photo styling. She went out to Loveland to work with her editor and the rest of the Interweave team and Joe on getting the pictures just right. She was very particular about getting everything just right. Cynthia and I even took our own photos to send out to the team so that they would know what we were thinking.” – Andrew, from the comments)
Cynthia did a video with her publisher, Interweave Press, talking about the book and showing some of her sketchbook pages and projects from the book.
Are you getting antsy? Enough about the pretty pictures, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, already?
The first clue that the basic info section isn’t going to be the run of the mill is that it starts with a chapter called “Finding and Harnessing Inspiration”.
“…The road between an idea and a finished piece is a winding one that starts and stops, changes directions, and may not resemble the original thought in the end.”
Can I get an “Amen, sistah?!” This is something every artist knows and sometimes struggles with. We talk about it on blogs, in art retreats, on Facebook. Finally someone says it in a book of projects. I don’t know about you but to me this says, “Hey! Your project probably won’t turn out exactly like the one in the photo. And that’s OKAY. It is as it should be. It’s the difference between being inspired by someone and doing a direct copy.” Sometimes we need to copy the project to learn the technique, otherwise craft books and magazines would be out of business, but then strike out on your own with your inspiration.
Moving into “The Essentials” is where you’ll find the basic techniques needed throughout the book. Again, it feels as though Cynthia has given just that little bit extra. For example, in the simple wireworking section, she shows you how to make a fine silver fused chain. It’s so beautiful I would wear it as is, no embellishment needed other than the hammered texture.
Things that are covered in “The Essentials”:
wire toolbox, wrapped loops, jump rings, fine silver fused chain, drawing a bead to make head pins, fancy wire wrap
Polymer Clay and Polymer Metal Clay
polymer clay toolbox, discussion of types, everything from conditioning to finishing
technique to look like faux ivory
polymer metal clay toolbox, discussion of types, considerations when working with pmc, sintering, firing, repairing, finishing, adding color to metal clay pieces
Simple Metal Clay Findings
Toggle clasp, Chain, Button, Prong Setting, Bezels – Clay Ball and Clay Cup with Bezel Wire
Carving and Sculpting
Simple Texture Tools – pads, cards, stamps – ones you make yourself naturally!
Making a master so that you can make multiple copies of that perfect bead you created wholly by accident.
I have heard more horror stories about artists ruining work with either the wrong ratios of resin ingredients, the wrong humidity, a bad batch, or they just didn’t hold their mouths right. Cynthia gives easy instructions and tips for every step of the way. She also covers inclusions, dyes, and finishing. There is a simple resin pendant step-out shown as well.
And here is where the magical story begins. “Every charm has a Story.”
Every project lists materials, tools and even clay color formulas if needed. Very detailed instructions for each piece are included to ensure best results. Helpful tips and possible variations are shown for some of the designs. And each of the pieces takes you a bit further into the story.
My favorite design from the book is the Woodland Wings necklace.