22 October 2011

The Torch Fired Way: Bringing Beautiful Beads to Light

Welcome to my assigned book tour day for the new book by Barbara Lewis,
Thank you for visiting! 
{Out of This World - currently on the cover
of Creative Jewelry featuring glass by
Kerry Bogert and enamel by Barbara Lewis}
I remember finding Barbara's beads for the first time. I was sucked in by the vivid colors, the smooth glass like finish, the intricate filigrees.

When I launched my very first solo art exhibit called 'Inspired by' last summer, one of the pieces of art I was interpreting was a color-laden and whimsical acrylic painting. I knew that I had to have some of Barbara's fabulous beads to work with so I asked her to collaborate with me. I will never forget what she said to me...she said it was so much fun to play in another person's sandbox. Well, today I get to return the favor and play in a happy, color-filled sandbox of Barbara!

I love the idea of this virtual book tour (mental note: do this when you have your own book tour. No flying involved and you can stay in your jammies as long as you like!). I was so honored to be invited to participate and so humbled to be among this who's who list of incredible designers and artists (really? Do I fit in here?) especially since I have never actually made a bead. But Barbara is a kind and generous soul who has followed along with me in my journey and she knows that I took a class with Stephanie Lee this past spring which helped ease my 'fear of the flame' as she put it. Even so, I am the sort that needs to have a class. I am excited to help Miss Barbara announce that she has been accepted to teach FOUR CLASSES at the 2012 Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee next June, so I am looking forward to the day when I will meet her in person, give her a big hug and make beads (I hope I can get a spot in one of her classes)! Until then, I have this exemplary book to make me drool and pique my interest, which I plan to study up and cram like no other textbook I ever had in college (maybe I would have done better if they all were like this! ;-). 

As the 'resident English teacher,' Barbara asked me to focus my review on the readability, layout and transitions. I appreciate having something to focus on, Miss Barbara!
I am a book junkie. If it is coming out on Amazon, I likely have it in my cart or if I am really intrigued, I might even pre-order it. For me to desire a book, I do judge it by its cover. And judging by this cover, it is hard to resist.

I think I may have drooled a bit on my keyboard the first time I saw it. ;-)
The photography in this edition is first-rate. Which is good, because I am a visual learner (you mean you expect me to actually read the instructions? Just because I taught English in a former life doesn't mean that I actually enjoy reading instructions!). I am the sort that will take one look at something and just plunge right in, making so many mistakes along the way (teaching me how NOT to do things!), but determined to make it work. Well, these pictures are so detailed and close up that it would be hard to screw it up. 

What I love about the pictures in this book is that they actually slow me down to understand the nuance of each step so that I can better appreciate the finished piece. And not just the more technical shots of open flame and drill bits, but even something as simple as tying a graceful knot in the 'All Wound Up' bracelet or cutting fabric on the bias in 'Harem' are given the attention they deserve. That is the mark of a true teacher. Barbara wants to show all the steps and to make sure that there is mastery of one building block before moving onto the next. I imagine that her classes at the Bead and Button will be just like the book coming to life!

The arrangement of each project is well laid out. I love that the pictures are large and detailed, and that there is some 'white space' to let my eye rest. There is a clear 'ingredients' list for each project including a list of tools, and the most important safety tips in the beginning, which I appreciate and will be re-reading again and again. I have too many books on my shelves that I never pull down to read because they are too cluttered or not explicit enough. This book is striking the right balance with me. Oh! I just noticed the cute detail on the numbers for each page - like a little hand cut brass flower waiting to be enameled! Great attention to detail!

{from my 'Inspired by' exhibit featuring Barbara's enamel beads}

I frequently buy books that are not in my own comfort zone or medium, and playing with fire, while intriguing, is not fully in my wheelhouse...yet. I love to look at the color palettes in fabric or quilt books, and the play of pattern in black and white nature photography, and this book is no different, particularly since I have never made a bead. The reason that I challenge myself with a book that is out of my zone, is that it is just that...a challenge. Even if fire is not your thing, I challenge you to see how this book will inspire you.
I fully intend to buy the kit from Barbara and take a class from her in the coming year (Hello...Bead and Button! Squee!), but until that time, I am excited by the transference of these projects. Even if I haven't made all the beads using this method, there are some innovative new designs in this book that I could see easily translating into working with the gemstones, metal and art beads that I have. (My favorite projects? The fabric wrapped in 'Harem,' the fiber strands n 'Pink Ink,' the balance and texture in 'Winged Heart,' and the idea of a bezel setting in 'Of Space and Time.') That makes it a far more valuable resource to me. Even if you have no intention of making an enameled bead, you can't go wrong with the incredible eye candy and delightful jewelry designs. And lucky for me, Barbara continues to sell her beads so that we can make these designs! (I am SO going to make 'Harem'!)

I love how each person who has reviewed this book has taken away lessons that suit them most. There is a project for everyone to love, and a few new techniques to master, as well as a sense of how this method can be tailored to each individual style and taste from contemporary pops of color to romantic filigree shapes to rustic time-worn treasures and everything in between. Barbara makes me believe that even I, with my waning fear of the flame, can bring these beauties to light. Several of the projects even have variations to the theme which I appreciate because it shows possibility and encourages the reader to see what direction this inspiration takes you, rather than trying to replicate this project exactly as shown. And with enamels I would guess that it is rather impossible to duplicate the same effect each time. Make it your own! That is the magic of enamel!

Barbara's book has inspired me to think outside of the jewelry box, to see the potential in things like copper pipes, scraps of fabric, kinetic movement, and color. You can't forget about color. I can't wait until I can put all these ideas into practice and learn from the Master herself, but until then, I will be studying this book over and over again, finding something new each time to delight and inspire.

{Nothin' But Blue Skies - giveaway!}

In honor of this Painting With Fire virtual book tour, I have created a pair of earrings (above) featuring brilliant blue enameled fluted beads that Barbara made for me. I call them 'Nothin' But Blue Skies' for it certainly looks as if this book is creating wide open spaces for Miss Barbara! AND since I am focusing on the layout and readability of the book, Barbara has graciously donated a signed copy of the book for another lucky winner! Two winners! Yea! (You know the drill....;-)

 Be sure to check out all the fun that is happening on these blogs:

October 6, Mary Jane Dodd, http://www.mairedodd.blogspot.com/
October 7, Gaea Cannaday, http://www.gaeabeads.blogspot.com/
October 10, Andrew Thornton, http://www.andrew-thornton.blogspot.com/
October 12, Diane Cook, http://www.rosa-josies.blogspot.com/
October 13, Lori Anderson, http://www.prettythingsblog.com/
October 15, Jen Judd Velasquez, http://www.jenjuddrocks.blogspot.com/
October 17, Melissa Meman, http://www.melissameman.blogspot.com/
October 18, Lisa Crone, http://www.abeadaday.blogspot.com/
October 19, Shannon LeVart, http://www.missficklemediacom.blogspot.com/
October 20, Cindy Wimmer, http://www.sweetbeadstudio.com/
October 21, Laura Twiford, http://www.souvenirsfromlife.blogspot.com/
October 22, Erin Prais-Hintz, www.treasures-found.blogspot.com - YOU ARE HERE!
October 24, Jennifer Cameron, www.glassaddictions.com
October 25, Sharilyn Miller, http://sharilynmiller.blogspot.com/

To thank you for following along, we will have a BONUS PRIZE at the end of the book tour! All of the entries will be included in the drawing for a kit containing all the elements of "Floral Cascade," one of the projects in the book. =====>
You'll receive everything you need to make the necklace, including the chain, jump rings, clasp, enamel beads, and head pins!

For a chance to win the Grand Prize - a Torch-Firing Kit
(or $110 shopping experience at www.paintingwithfireartwear.com) -
please leave a REVIEW at 
Amazon.com by November 24.

So leave 1 comment here for 1 chance to win these prizes (earrings or book).

Leave a 2nd comment if you posted about the virtual book tour on facebook and leave a 3rd comment if you tweet for even more chances.
(Unfortunately, we have to restrict the giveaways to U.S. residents.)

We will be drawing names soon and Barbara will announce them on her blog, which I will follow up with here on my mine.

Winners should contact Barbara with their name and address through her author website: www.torchfiredenameljewelry.com so that you can receive your prizes!


Lois Moon said...

I'm loving both prizes!

Shoshana from The Art Corner said...

What a beautiful review :) Thanks for being part of this tour and for sharing. I love the bit about thinking out of the jewelry box that's precious :)

SummersStudio said...

Nice review! I had the same impressions as you when I first saw this book. The photos are the next best thing to having Barbara there to teach you. Then when I went back to look more closely, I could see all sorts of ways to incorporate techniques beyond the enamel beads into my own work. This is one fantastic book on so many levels.

KayzKreationz said...

I'm like you, I usually need a lesson first to get me in a little bit of a comfort zone. But I just got my book last night, and can't put it down. I've never made a bead either, but I'm determined I'm going to try this. I'd love to be able to take a class from her, but not sure I can get there. I love your review, because it reminds me so much of me and makes me think if this is the way you feel, then I can do it, too. I too have enjoyed all the different lessons/views posted in everyone's reviews.
And both of the giveaways are great. I'd love to have a book signed by Barbara and I always love your work and would be thrilled to have your earrings.

KayzKreationz said...

I just tweeted about your review and giveaway.


KayzKreationz said...

Just posted on my facebook, in my group Etsy/Artfire United.


Sandi Volpe said...

Erin, fantastic review and beautiful jewelry. Do not
fear the flame, I just got the kit and enameled my first beads, I could not wait to take a class:), set up my kitchen island, where I do all torch work. watched Barbara's video several times, now I just need more colors. You can do it and will love it:)

Kym Hunter Designs said...

I enjoyed reading your review! Everything you made is so pretty and colorful. I would love to take a class with Barbara, but live to far. The book would be wonderful!

Alice said...

Erin, thanks for the lovely and very thorough book review. I love Barbara's thoughts of 'playing in someone else's sand box'!

Your creations are just beautiful! So bright and cheery. I'd love to take a class with Barbara. I'm the sort of person who needs to learn in a classroom setting (and a little hand-holdingj).

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review! Wonderful book! Carol Myers - BusCarol@aol.com

Cinder said...

Wow! I love your "cover girl" piece. The colors are so rich.
If I didn't already own Barbara's book, I'd have it in my cart to purchase based on your review. Every time I look through the book I find new inspiration.

I am a happy follower of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Erin, I'm a visual learner too! I look at a book and my brain automatically says, "where's the pictures!" I love all the beautiful eye candy of Barabara's book, the photos do exactly what they are suppose to....they feed my creativity.
Your review of the book is lovely and your creations are so bright and colorful! Beautiful work!

justthecook said...

Great review! and I love your word smith post on Barbara's blog :-)
This tour has been great!!! Wish it could go longer!

justthecook said...

I have posted about the Tour on Facebook :-)

Christine said...

Fantastic review - I can't wait to get Barbara's book! I'm enjoying this book tour - everyone's insight takes away the "fear" of trying something new. Love your earrings!!

Spirited Earth said...

great review..i want to learn torch fired enamel, it's beautiful

Spirited Earth said...

i just shared on facebook..
thanks for a chance to win either of these.

bludawgdesigns said...

I love the way you have used Barbara's beads in your jewelry. The colors are so much fun!

Sally Anderson said...

Love those earrings!! Thanks for the giveaway! I hope to win the big, big prize so I can do this stuff!!

Shirley said...

What I really love about your review is that you haven't made any of the beads yet. That puts you in the same category as me, and helps me to see that I can do this. I also appreciate Sandi's comment above. :) I love reading your posts for the beauty of the words. Didn't know you were an English teacher, but not surprised! Thank you so much for the lovely giveaway!

Rosalynn said...

What a helpful review of Barbara's book. Obviously students of hers are already drooling over all the ideas in the book. It was nice to also read a review from someone who looked at the quality of content of the book as well as the pretties. I have read your blog and followed your adventures for some time but made myself public and signed up to follow your blog officially.
I have Barbara's book so I would choose the earrings if I am a lucky winner. I would also love an additional copy of the book either to share or to replace the copy that I will no doubt burn with the torch when I start enameling.

Shannon Chomanczuk said...

Well miss Erin I am blown away by your jewelry and your photography. I can't wait to get started with this technique. I have all the supplies but haven't had a baby free day in the studio to try. A 2 year old and fire don't mix well ;-)
Have a great day!
Shannon C

Doris said...

I hope you'll be able to take a class from Barbara at Bead & Button and that you'll enjoy playing with fire (I do).
Love the earrings you are so generously giving away.

Janea aka Naya said...

I'm hoping she will teach again in Tucson, since I wasn't able to take her class last year. I just ordered her book, I too am a book junkie (maybe we should create a support group)!

LindaK said...

Erin, thank you for being part of this tour. You expressed my thoughts about the book much more clearly than I ever could. I love your earrings. I could use some blue skies on this cold, dark, rainy Alaskan morning!

The Crazy Creative Corner said...

Loooove the review. You did a good job on it (I'm no English expert, but i have a sister who minored in English, uses formal English as a legal secretary and is a bit of an English-use Nazi ~hee~) I'm looking forward to a chance to (maybe) win :-). Already a follower.

LindaK said...

I am posting about the tour on Facebook.

Kim said...

I am so excited Barbara will be at Bead and Button!! I'm in Appleton so that's only an hour and a half! I just bought the book and I'm loving it!

Pearl and Pebble said...

Beautiful book,Beautiful review, Beautiful earrings-what else can I say?!?!?

moonlitfantaseas said...

you will love the class Erin, I was lucky enough to take Barnara's Painting with fire class, at Art and Soul Portland, just last month, and it was so much fun! and I have to say I really love the earrings you made!!

Unknown said...

You know I loved that she asked you to focus on the readability of this. Knowing you and your love of words as well as your understanding of what every crafter wants to know makes this review amazing for me. Thank you so much for participating!

Erin S said...

love the earrings, and the book looks incredible! I am also a bit squeamish about a torch, but think fire might play a part in my future. I'd love to learn enameling!

Unknown said...

Oh the possibilities! Can't wait to get started enemeling myself!!!

Tam said...

What a review! I would love to learn enameling.

The earrings you made are beautiful too :)

Nancy Markosky said...

Great review of Barbara's book- the best one so far. I appreciated all the details you provided so I know for sure that I want to buy this book. I haven't tried anything like this before but it sounds like Barbara makes it easy to understand and follow. Thank you so much!

Nancy Markosky said...

I posted on FaceBook about the book tour with the same name.

SueBeads said...

Erin, I took Barbara's class and you will love it - or them! Thanks for the chance at the beautiful earrings you created too!

LuniLadi said...

Ilove your interpretations of Barbara's projects and your review of her book is really excellant!
Doreen aka LuniLadi

Unknown said...

Great review! I'm loving following Barbara's book tour! I haven't seen the book "in real life" yet, but I'd love to have a copy.

cw whitedogjewelry said...

You gave such a great review, it has gone beyond a temptation. I feel the need to give this a try. It's totally out of my comfort zone, but what beautiful results!
Thanks for the generous giveaway, count me in, please!

Regina said...

Great review, some day, time permitting, I hope to dabble in painting with fire.

Thoughtfulhands said...

What a great review and beautiful work!

Secret Squirrel Designs said...

Hi Erin,
You ARE a wordsmith and I appreciate your review of Barbara's book. Just remember.....the flame is your friend, the falme is your friend. Love your earings...hope to win......the flame is your friend.

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Unknown called you a wordsmith, how about "Wordmeister"? That's a good thing! A+ on your book report, Miss Erin! Got my attention, even though I'm saying no more new skills right now. Never say never Great giveaways, thanks for all. Loved your colorful jewelry!

Cathie Carroll said...

I love your "Inspired By" necklace.
Beautiful colors and arrangement.


mairedodd said...

wonderful review - and i was so pleased to see the word 'waning' in front of fear... i agree, i have a lot of books.. and this one was done so well in all respects... no small feat i am sure... this is like a reference guide with projects and will not be one to collect dust on the shelves...

In the Light of the Moon said...

I am so inspired to just go for it...thank you for this amazing review..it gives me comfort knowing that you sweet Erin learn first from the photos... I to am first captivated by the photos.This book looks amazing!!Hugs,Cat

Cindy said...

Erin, I know you can do it and will have a blast. I really admire the pieces you've made in the past with Barbara's beads - they are so colorful and fun!
I totally agree with your review and shared that similar thought - that Barbara's book is perfect for those who don't even intend to make their own beads! Her jewelry projects can translate to other mediums as well...but it's all of the fantastic techniques that she shares that can benefit any reader.

sjhillis said...

I love your blog and the inspiration you give----can't wait to get going with Barbara's wonderful book!

stephanie_mcginley said...

Thanks for the wonderful, cohesive book review! I am definitely putting the book on my Christmas "wish list", based on your review!



Jennifer Cameron said...

Wonderful book review. I love how you use Barbara's components. Do not be afraid of the flame!

Laura Twiford said...

Great review Erin and I hope you get to go to bead and Button and take some classes with Barbara, you're gonna love the process!

Beetique said...

I would just love to win either one of these prizes. The book would be interesting and the earrings are lovely.

Marla James said...

Excellent Book review! Thanks for sharing!

Shai Williams said...

I will definitely have to pick this book up. I have issues with a lot of the jewelry books out there because I look at them with the eyes of an editor so I appreciate the technical review.

Shai Williams said...

I haven't posted a button as I just found about the tour today. But I did tweet about it.



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