Publication Reviews 34.5

Lily Baker 2010 Metal Arts for Boys and Girls. Shoreline, WA: 104 p., softcover, $25.00 (self-published through

Lily Baker, a metals teacher, using two powerful ideas—that children are impressionable and that what they make with their own hands can give them a great sense of accomplishment—has produced a book on simple metalworking for kids, along with her sister Lupin. Illustrated throughout by photographs of children in her classes, one cannot help but think how important it is to give them this opportunity to work with their hands, gain knowledge of a material foreign to many, even adults, and perhaps inspire them to continue gaining handskills that are portable and expandable later in life. Her images of the students easily convey a sense of interest, concentration and satisfaction with their projects. Given how litigious our society has become, it is refreshing that she has written this book, used for teaching kindergarten through twelfth grade at the Edmonds Homeschool Resource Center, the Art Shack and for kids at home in Washington. Baker stresses many safeguards for the young metalworkers, not the least of which is the constant and close presence of adults. Washington state has long had jewelry/metals classes in their high schools, often taught by very talented artist teachers.

At a time when art and craft courses are given short shrift due to funding and changing priorities in schools, perhaps this type of book will help our children to work with their hands on things other than keyboards or electronic devices. Also, this activity could benefit from the largesse of tool and other jewelry suppliers, while ensuring their future.


Robert K. Liu




Nancy Megan Corwin 2009 Chasing and Repoussé. Methods Ancient and Modern. Brunswick, Brynmorgen Press: 184 p., hardcover $35.00.

Elegant is perhaps the best word to describe this book by Corwin, whose work we have shown in Ornament 32.5, 2009; she is a consummate practitioner of chasing and repoussé, two ancient techniques requiring considerable skill and time to execute well. However, it would not have been possible to reach this level of clarity in her techniques and demonstrations without the photographic skills of Doug Yaple. While the processes are a joy to view, there is the added reinforcement of beautiful examples of work using similar methods by herself and other metal artists. Because chasing and repoussé require a variety of specialized tools, usually customized by the metalsmiths to suit their own needs, those images which show how to prepare such equipment especially add to this book’s value. A large gallery section of featured artists augments the examples throughout the book. Corwin ends her book with several useful appendices, including Japanese tagane or chasing tools, composition of alloys used for chasing/repoussé and how to harden/temper tools, with a chart of tempering colors. High production values by an experienced publisher enhance this very worthwhile volume.

Interestingly, while the contemporary Western jeweler/metalsmith is usually well-equipped with tools, craftspeople in other cultures, like the Miao of Guizhou, accomplish acceptable work with much simpler kits. (See images of dies/tools in the Guzang Miao Festival in this issue.)






Jeri L. Warhaftig 2011 Creating Glass Beads. A new workshop to expand your beginner skills and develop your artistic voice. Asheville, Lark Books: 144 p., hardcover $24.95.

The second of Warhaftig’s books on glass beadmaking, it clearly shows her well-honed studio skills, and also a well-equipped glass studio full of tools, almost the hallmark of contemporary workers in medium-driven crafts. The book is printed and illustrated well, especially the process images. After a short chapter covering studio basics and safety, she launches into ten projects designed to expand one’s lampworking skills. While Warhaftig demonstrates each of these processes, she also recruited fourteen beadmakers, called project testers, from around the world who had intermediate beadmaking skills. (Clearly, some of the testers were much beyond intermediate abilities.) Each of the testers were given a draft of her chapters but lacking the step-by-step images and were told to execute their own take of her instructions.

Obviously the interest and tension in this book is the comparison of what the author did and what the testers/students did or did not do. Following the images of the testers there were always two gallery pages showing the work of others who used the same general technique. Many from the gallery section are stars in the glass ornament world and the difference in skills and aesthetics readily shows. Perhaps this wide variation of creativity points out both the strength and weaknesses of those working in a field with a fascinating yet popular and demanding medium.






Suzanne Gott and Kristyne Loughran 2010 Contemporary African Fashion. Bloomington, Indiana University Press: 228 p., softcover $27.95, available at

As an ignorant newcomer to the world of African fashion, Gott and Loughran’s book provides both broad strokes and detailed flourishes in constructing a picture. Filled with essays from a variety of researchers and authors, Contemporary African Fashion explores how Africa has assimilated and adapted to Western clothing, eventually in many places creating a synthesis between native traditions and contemporary styles.

The book also introduces basic African fashion styles that should be common knowledge. The first essay of the book examines the Ghanaian kaba, a three piece ensemble of brightly printed cloth that has the status of being one of the primary outfits of women in the Ashanti region. As much a cultural costume as the Indian sari or Chinese qipao, the kaba is a pillar of Ghanaian social life.

Indeed, the book reinforces the primacy of clothing and personal adornment among Africans, and drives home the fervor and passion of common people for being fashionable. Whether reincorporating secondhand clothing, which the book reveals is sold by charitable organizations in what is a substantial market, melding traditional textiles with the latest fashion trends, or creating European-styled marriage gowns to cater to the ever-present desire for the exotic, Contemporary African Fashion shows that for many Africans, craft is life.


Patrick R. Benesh-Liu





2010 Beads. Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers. Volume 22: 72 p., $20.00 per year, U.S.; membership:

First published in 1989, Beads is an annual journal entirely devoted to serious bead research, although The Bead Journal, established in 1974, later superceded by Ornament, also published on beads and other personal adornment. Ironically, interest in beads, especially their role in the development of modern humans, by scientists, scholars and jewelers has dramatically increased in the last four decades or so, with up to two museums devoted to such objects in the United States, as well as many societies and other organizations, which often hosted conferences. These museums have closed, there are no domestic conferences and most interest in beads centers on their role in jewelry, often as beadwork.

Beads continues to publish meaningful research, usually with an improved level of reproduction. The current issue has articles on the making of bauxite beads and its mining in Ghana; the excavation of Peruvian made beads and associated Nueva Cadiz glass cane beads from a North Coast site in Peru, with the first records of how such beads were worn; precolumbian beads from San Salvador, Bahamas and comparisons to other beads of this area, that formed a possible pan-Caribbean trade network; a reprint of the late Peter Francis Jr. article on the beads that did not buy Manhattan; and the fascinating relationship of Venetian glass beads and the slave trade from Liverpool, an association that was previously little known. There is also one book review. This journal deserves the full support of all interested in bead research.






Janet Cantley 2010 More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls. The Heard Museum: 40 p., $16.95,

This charming catalog is a companion to More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls, a Heard Museum exhibition currently showing through October 16, 2011 at the museum’s Phoenix location (See also in this issue, pages 22 and 23 for Debra Utacia Krol’s interesting article on the exhibit, Life in Miniature).

Curated by Janet Cantley, the exhibit features dolls from the Heard’s own collection and private collections around the country. Aside from their undeniable aesthetic appeal, dolls are also educational tools, communicating information about community, gender roles, creative skills, ceremonial traditions, and other cultural values. The book is a sampling of the eighty-plus dolls highlighted in the show.

With information on artists, materials and tribal affiliation of each doll, the book features dolls ranging from the Central Plains to nineteenth-century figures and modern dolls. Well-photographed images show the variety of styles from faceless dolls to finely-detailed and intricately crafted examples of classic Native American regalia.

The perfect gift for any doll or Native American craft lover, in an adorable, almost pocket-sized format, More Than Child’s Play reminds us that good things often come in small packages.


Jill A. DeDominicis



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Our upcoming issue 37.4 contains


Nubian Jewelry

Kate Mensah

Philadelphia Craft Show


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