Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Book Review ... "Hot Connections Jewelry"
I had the pleasure of being asked to review "Hot Connections Jewelry: The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques" by Jennifer Chin (Potter Craft). I thought, "Oh, boy! My soldering could really use some help! This is great!"
There are some really great things about the book. First, Jennifer's writing flows ... it is very easy to read ... and her personality shines throughout the book. She does a great job explaining some of the physics of soldering and annealing, like what happens to the metal upon heating, how the crystalline structure changes to make the metal malleable, and how the flux looks when it's time to strike! There's great information about the composition of some of the more popular metals used in jewelry-making, their melting points, how to determine by the color of the metal whether the metal has been heated adequately to be considered annealed, and whether to quench it or not.
Jennifer is a talented jewelry artist and her work is really lovely and engaging. There are some nice projects in the book, which are presented in a logical order from those that are easier to those requiring more skill. I particularly like the "Retro Bracelet," which has a nifty closing mechanism incorporated into the design.
There are a couple of things I would like to have seen in a book with a subtitle "The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques." For instance, I would like to have seen a section on working with binding wire, which is mentioned as a tool in the "Soldering Tools" section but not addressed in a technique in the book. I would have preferred to see a section on how to correct wonky edges or, better yet, how to prevent wonky edges in the first place.
The rest of my comments deal more with editorial issues, such as how the publisher produced the step-by-step photos. The photos are indicated by letter and the paragraphs are indicated by number (with the letter somewhere in one of the paragraphs), which creates unnecessary confusion. Other little things could be addressed, like misnumbered pages in the Index (I looked for "pick soldering," which was mislabeled as being on page 56 when it was really on page 59, and was also not indexed as appearing later in the book, which it did.) On page 33, Jennifer mentions that a favorite tool is the "tube-cutting jig." However, this tool isn't shown in use for over 100 pages and is not referenced in the Index.
The bottom line for me is that "Hot Connections Jewelry: The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques" is a well-written book with beautiful jewelry and some helpful soldering techniques. There are some nice pieces in gallery sections throughout the book, too.