Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Books, Magical Thinking, and My Two Cents

I confess, I love reference books. Almost any reference book. I hoard reference books, purchasing them (often on a whim) and carefully stowing them away --- but for what?

I am guilty of magical thinking when it comes to books. I want the book, I crave the book and the knowledge it contains, and I get a wonderful glowy feeling when the book arrives. My purchasing can be triggered by an online review, or an ad in a magazine, or a recommendation from a friend. It is a sickness, I tell you.

Why is it a sickness? Because of the magical thinking - I might briefly look at the book when it arrives, but by and large it goes straight to my shelf, where it selfishly hoards its contents, while I mistakenly believe that merely owning the book means I now possess all its knowledge. Which, I kind of do, but not in any meaningful or functional way!

For instance, I probably own 35 books on metalsmithing, and last week I wanted to read one particular tip I remembered seeing in one of them on the day the book arrived from Amazon 2 years ago, and I had to page through all of my metal texts (and I confess, I was skimming quickly, so I actually had to go through most of them twice) searching for this tidbit. So frustrating - there must be a better way!

Let's look at my Jewelry Reference Library:

This is most of my jewelry books. Not all.

They are crammed in there - and pretty soon I am going to have to find alternative storage for the few other, non-book items in there, since I just ordered 5 more jewelry books last week (shhh!), and am barely able to sit still, waiting for the mailman!

Let's look at those other items in the cabinet:

Arrow #1: Jumprings left over from various chainmaille projects. All different sizes, shapes, colors, metals. This started as one lone plastic compartmented storage box, and is now simply ridiculous.

Arrow #2: 3 Jewelry DVDs - THREE of them - 2 on chainmaille, one on silversmithing. All three still in their shrinkwrap. Crazy. And a lot of those books contain unwatched DVDs, too. Craziness.

Arrow #3: My bead soup, in a gorgeous glass star-and-moon (former) margarita mix bottle.

Moving on. I resolved, sometime last year, to take home 2 books every weekend and actually read them, putting sticky bookmarks on the projects and tips I wanted to be able to find later. Until this past weekend, I was successful at toting the books home, but never, ever opened a single one. And about 4 months ago I just quit fooling myself, and just left them in their cabinet (The Library).

Frustrated by my inability to easily locate the information I wanted last week, I took home 2 books this weekend, one of which contained an (unopened) DVD, and I read the books cover-to-cover, and watched the DVD.

And this is where my two cents comes in:  As a jewelry instructor myself, after watching the DVD, which shall go unnamed, I want to share some of MY teaching philosophy when it comes to jewelry design and fabrication:

1) There are no Bead Police. This is true whether we are talking about actual design OR technique. To wit:

2) When it comes to technique, there is NEVER only one "right" way to do something. There are usually at least 2, if not more, ways to get from Point A to Point B, and beyond, no matter what it is you are trying to do, from crimping to soldering - so one person may advocate one way, and others will favor other ways, but the only way to decide which way is "best" is to try them all, and see what your own results are. The "best" way is the way that works best for you, and doesn't take away from the value of other methods!

And that is all I am going to say about that.


Halinka said...

I also love all the books about beading,collect them,follow all the news in this area and all my beading library is shown in the left scroll bar of my blog.
I do not use the patterns from them to make my jewels,but they rather serve the purposes of my inspiration.The photos and descriptions are even more precious,when used this way.

Silver Rains said...

Oh my goodness, I could have written this, you & I have soo much in common when it comes to books that when I showed this to my honey he remarked "whose been taking pictures in your craft room? LOL I so enjoyed hearing that I AM NOT ALONE! I just bet there are more of us out there! I really enjoyed visiting your blog today.