Book Review: The Penland Book of Jewelry

Tom McCarthy Necklace

The Penland Book of Jewelry is an extraordinary exploration of jewelry making, the creative process, and reflections on life itself. The book is a collaboration between Lark Books and the Penland School of Craft. The book showcases ten amazing contemporary jewelers who have taught at Penland. I’ve studied at Penland twice although not with any of these instructors. I’m hoping to attend Penland again and the level of artistry and expertise of Penland’s instructors is one reason many classes sell out and slots are filled via lottery.

Rob Jackson Earrings

Rob Jackson Earrings

Each artists talks about their background, inspiration, and creative process. And it is so interesting. From John Cogswell’s reflections on his childhood where vegetables came in a can, meats in plastic wrap, eaten off paper plates, faces wiped with disposable napkins. Yet there was a yearning within him for things hand made. To Jaime Pelissier’s recounting of two events that led him to gold-smithing, a childhood broken toy and a necklace commission he wasn’t quite ready for but had to deliver anyway. These and other stories illuminate the connection between all artistic and creative people.

Heather White van Stolk Explorations

The artists then demonstrate a particular technique they are known for. The photographs and written explanations of what they are doing at each step are very detailed. And they show the level of command and skill these artists have.

Rob Jackson demonstrating his techniques

Then, each artist selects jewelry from other artists and these pieces are presented in a showcase. Some chose to select people who worked with similar materials or techniques, others chose people for their artistry in design or even the fact that they wished they’d made the jewelry.

This is a lovely, thoughtful and inspiring book.

I’ve had the good fortune to also review The Penland Book of Glass.

Disclaimer: Lark Books provided one copy of this book free of charge for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

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2 Responses to Book Review: The Penland Book of Jewelry

  1. dawn says:

    Love Penland and the book. I’ve taken several classes from Tom McCarthy….he is one of the best….and funny as hell. I’ll be at Penland in Stacey Lane’s Waxing Poetic class in August…would love to see you there. Stacey is one of the best out there in lost wax casting. I had a class with her several years ago and fell in love with the whole process…check out her work on Etsy and her website, It is very detailed and has a distinct,ancient look.
    Looking forward to meeting you….are you going to Hampton, Art and Soul? Baba Paul and I will both be there mid-week through Saturday.

    • thebeaddreamer says:

      Hi Dawn,

      I love Penland too and hope to be there this summer either in session 1 or 7 – both are enamels classes which I am trying to learn and conquer. I took a look at Stacey’s work and it is amazing. You should have an excellent class.

      I will be at Hampton Art & Soul and hope to meet up with you and Baba. We were thinking either Thursday evening or Friday anytime.

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