10 books I can’t live without

I love books, art and design. I can take root in a bookstore, losing many hours randomly browsing the shelves — and a good, used bookstore with a coffee bar is my idea of heaven on earth. I often rescue old books on esoteric topics to save them from destruction, give them a home, or just because they might help me someday.

Books don’t boss, direct or dictate like a person would. They gently show. Or they tell. Reading calms me, centers my mind and helps me move forward when I reach a place on the road where I don’t know what to do next. I often turn to my books for random guidance; just pulling something off the shelf to see what wisdom is there inside, no matter the topic. The act of opening a book and drawing in information helps me to clear away conflict in my head and find a direction. So I guess it is a good thing I work in publishing, even though that field is changing at the speed of a data stream. In my mind, there is still a place for books and printed information, because the learning experience is radically different when you hold an object — like a book — in your hands to draw in information with all of your senses at the same time.

To me, that is the information that sticks — because I can associate it with a moment in time where I saw the words and images, held the weight of that book in my hands, heard the authors words in my head and felt the passing of time as I absorbed the knowledge between the covers. It is hard to choose my “Favorite” books, because I am constantly moving, growing and living, and what I love now is different from what I loved before. However, these are perennial favorites I recommend to students and friends who ask. Some are old or out of print, which is a shame, but all of them are an inspiration to me.

1. Practical Jewelry Making, By Fritz Loosli, Herbert Merz and Alex Schaffner, Ubos/Scriptar, ISBN 2-88012-040-3. When I am blocked at the bench, I pull this book out and do some of the exercises in it.

2. Modernist Jewelry 1930-1960 The Wearable Art Movement, By Marbeth Schon, Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-2020-3. This book is an unbelievable and inspirational review of the blossoming of artisan jewelry in the US.

3. Foldforming, By Charles Lewton-Brain, Brynmorgen Press, ISBN 978-1-929565-26-9. Groundbreaking, brilliant work by one of the most important makers of our time.

4. David Smith Sculpture and Drawings, edited by Jorn Merkert, Prestel-Verlag, ISBN 3-7913-0793-2. David Smith is a master of space, and I enjoy reading his letters and essays.

5. Design Through Discovery, by Marjorie Elliot Bevlin, Holt- Rinehart and Winston, ISBN 0-03-089701-7. A textbook from my art school days that has survived repeated purges of the book shelves.

6. Jewelry of Our Time,  Art, Ornament and Obsession, By Helen Drutt English and Peter Dormer, Rizzoli, ISBN 0-8478-1914-0. Anyone interested in owning or making studio jewelry should own this book.

7. Jewelry Concepts and Technology, By Oppi Untracht, Doubleday and Company, ISBN 0-385-04185-3. Own it. Read it. Live it.

8. Silversmithing, By Rupert Finegold and William Seitz, Krause Publications, ISBN 0-8019-7232-9. Every member of the cult of the hammer and anvil needs a copy of this book. It is our manual.

9.  Creative Stonesetting, By John Cogswell, Brynmorgen Press, ISBN978-1-929565-22-1. A brilliant compendium of the most challenging technical work of our craft.

10. Art Jewelry Today – Volumes 1, 2 and 3 – Dona Z. Meilach, or Jeffrey B. Snyder, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-1766-0; ISBN 978-0-7643-3065-0; ISBN 978-0-7643-3883-0. Browsing these volumes is like going to a museum with a fantastic collection of important works in studio jewelry.

There is one more book to read. Really read. At least once a year — in the summer on the beach or in a hammock somewhere where you can hear birds, wind or surf and feel the sun on your skin. In a quiet natural place far from the buzz of the modern world. So you absorb it with all of your senses and remember what it means.

Fahrenheit 451, By Ray Bradbury. A Del Ray Book — 1953.
ISBN 0-345-29234-0.


About Helen Driggs

Metalsmith, Teaching Artist, Writer, Maker of things. Former Senior Editor of Lapidary Jewelry Artist Magazine View all posts by Helen Driggs

One response to “10 books I can’t live without

  • Linda Barton

    Helen, Thank you for your blogs. I love this list of books you suggested and will put them on “must own one-day” list. I too love books to hold and slowly turn each page to discover what wonderful inspirational picture or tip is to be found. I have a number of e-books but I find that they stay on my computer and are seldom looked at. They are nothing compared to a real book.

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