Beading with Filigree 
by Cynthia Deis
review by Gail Dennehy
Larkbooks

 

 

 

 

If you have come here to the Guyot website, you, like I, admire the gentle curves, shapes, and lines they have pressed and sculpted in metal.

Filigree isn't new. Used both for beauty and strength, the metal designs have appeared in buttons, figurines, purses, headpieces, and jewelry for centuries. The ancient technique of producing them involved long hours of delicate hand work over hot fires.

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the emerging middle class craved all the luxuries of the rich, including filigree jewelry. Some enterprising manufacturer discovered that filigree could be made easier and cheaper by stamping it out of sheet metal with a press and die.

By the middle of the twentieth century, pieces with filigree integrated in them were quite popular and, when I grew up in the early fifties, they were still found easily in antique shops and my grandmother's dresser drawer. Today, because of its beauty and the ease with which it can be embellished with beads and gems, it is widely in use and most of the stamped filigree is produced in factories in France or the United States.
Cynthia Deis has written this Lark Books edition of “Beading with Filigree,” to introduce the hobbyist to the treatment, shaping, and use of filigree. She begins with an in depth discussion of the materials a maker might find herself working with. The filigree itself might be of raw or natural brass, antiqued brass, plated brass, or even solid sterling silver. There are the beads, pearls, and stones in all sorts of colors and shapes. Findings are the metal parts used in jewelry making and may include clasps, toggles, end caps, crimp covers, ear wires, and jump rings. Stringing materials can be chains, string, wire, or monofilament. So very many things to chose from, and Cynthia gives them all attention. Finally, you must have on hand some pliers, epoxy glue, and a can of spray paint or two, and you are ready to either construct your own design or to practice on any of the thirty-one designs from Cynthia's own collection. A virtual panacea of filigree jewelry projects for all levels of skills.

Wait a minute, what about technique? Cynthia hasn't forgotten any of the basics. She shows how to wrap a loop of wire, open and close jump rings, use crimp tubes, and sew beads to filigree. When she has done all this, Cynthia shows the reader how to change the metal finishes on your filigree pieces by bending and shaping the filigree into the piece you need for your creation. The instructions the writer provides for each of her projects are clear and complete. Each one includes a detailed materials list and a list of techniques involved. She references the page number to go to find how-to information.

Her designs are lovely and range from simply elegant to colorful and fun. The author offers the hobbyists ways to use their own creativity, and the techniques they learn in the book, to adjust the designs to their own tastes. All in all, this a nice comprehensive introduction to the use of filigree in jewelry making. It made me go out and start shopping for squares, circles, and ovals of filigree. 


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