Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tela Formosa's first book! A review.

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I have something exciting to share with you today. It's my very first in-depth book review! The book I'm reviewing is Design and Create Your Own Wire Wrapped Cabochon Pendants, an e-book by my good friend, Tela Formosa -- who was nice enough to let me have a free copy. You can read her own, excellent description here.

Since I'd never done a detailed book review before, I decided to try a question and answer format. When I read any jewelry book, I ask myself the same questions every time, and they help me determine what's a good or even great book -- and whether I should tell you, my most sequintastic readers, about it.

And because there are more than one or two questions, I gave two answers for each: the long version and the short version. That way, you can focus on the things that matter the most to you.

Are you ready? Here we go!

What made you excited to read this book?

Short answer: Have you seen Tela's work???

Long answer: I was excited to read a whole book devoted to wrapping cabochons. I've read plenty of wire-related books, and I have plenty of them in my collection, but cabochons tend to get a small section, at best. That section is never enough for me to get the hang of wrapping stones, and I'm not all that interested in duplicating the examples -- I want to go in my own direction.

Tela's book was going to solve all those problems for me!

Are there any prerequisites for tackling the projects in this book?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: The above answer isn't set in stone (ha ha). Tela does a great job covering the different types of wire, the tools needed, and the basics of wrapping cabochons. A smart beginner could follow the book fairly easily.

Still, it is a book intended for experienced wire artists. Most people would benefit from having basic wire-wrapping skills like making bends, curls and coils. Wire weaving will also come in handy for people who like big, fancy bails.

Are the written instructions clear?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:  Tela's book is very casual in tone, like she's sitting next to you, giving you a private lesson. I like this approach. A casual, but intelligent approach to something that can be intimidating takes a lot of discomfort out of the equation. It also kept my interest throughout the book.

Her written directions are clear, and on the one or two occasions where I wasn't sure what she meant, she was ready with photos -- and then this directionally-challenged sequin scientist was fine.

How is the quality of the photographs for both in-process shots and finished pieces?

Short answer: Awesome.

Long answer: I have a bias towards photographs instead of hand or computer-drawn diagrams. It can be done, as Karen Williams shows us, but I think it's hard to show a three-dimensional process with a two-dimensional diagram.

This book is all photos, and they're top quality. The finished pieces are plentiful and gorgeous and serve as great examples of what can be done with wire and stones, and the in-process shots are very clear. I'll expand on this later, but my favorite example of great photography is when she discusses the backs of pieces. She showed the details perfectly, and I didn't have to do any guesswork about what was going on.

Does the book teach new techniques or explain known techniques in a better/more detailed way?

Short answer: Yes -- a mixture of both!

Long answer: As I mentioned before, Tela's book is all about wrapping cabochons, so there is much more detail than any books or tutorials I've read. And yes, she explains it in a better way. I like her take on the right kind of stones for beginners, which makes more sense than what I've read in other books, and her explanations of the different elements that go into a wrap are awesome.

And her discussion on the backs of wraps? I think that's my favorite part. I haven't found a discussion like that anywhere else, and I love that the focus is on secure, clean-looking backs. This is another bias of mine, but I love tidiness in wire wrapping.

Does the book offer anything else that other books and tutorials don't? 

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:  Besides the focus on wrapping stones and the conversational tone, she also talks about how she gets into a creative state. I love creativity exercises and have always thought that more books should include them.

  Tela also created a technique-based, instead of a project-based, book on wire wrapping, which isn't all that common. Which brings me to the next question...

Does the book encourage readers to go in their own creative direction?

Short answer: Yes -- very much.

Long answer: This book is all about giving you, the artist, the tools to design for yourself. This is my bias as a reader and jewelry maker, but I think teaching people to think creatively, for themselves, is the very best thing any teacher can do for her students. Especially rebellious, ornery students like me who always do their own thing. ;)

If the author wrote another book, would I buy it?

Short answer: Hell to the yes!

Long answer: The short answer pretty much covers it, but I'll say that after reading her book, I want to buy some of her tutorials.

 As for other books, I'd buy those, too. Especially if she wrote one, say, about cabbing stones. But no pressure. ;)

And that concludes my very first book review! I hope you enjoyed it, that it was helpful, and most of all, that you'll stop by Tela's website and check out the other tutorials she has available, too!

Also, a note to authors: If you like my question and answer format and would like me to review your book, let me know! I really enjoy promoting other artists and reading crafty books of all sorts, so if your book fits with the overall theme of Saturday Sequins, I'll definitely consider it.

Thanks for reading, thanks for spreading the word about Tela's book, and have a sequintastic day!


  1. Nice first review Sarah, my daughter wraps cabs and I used to make sculptured pendants, so it was particularly interesting I am off to look at yur friend Tela's blog!

  2. Sarah, thank you so much for doing the wonderful review!!!! I have to admit, I was very nervous because I know your background with writing and your blog is sequintastically done. I had no idea I was your first review, LOL! This was my book first, too. You were too kind to omit my mistakes with some grammar, but I'm a newbie and as such I think it wasn't too bad. Maybe, I'm my own worst critic. :)

    This was a great format for a review. I think you asked and answered some valid questions. I hope more people take advantage of your kind offer to do reviews. Everyone can but benefit from a review- either good or bad.

    Thank you again, Sarah and congrats on your first review!

  3. Hey Sarah that is a great review. Love the long and short of it.

  4. Sarah, excellent review! I know Tela's book, and can confirm that it is easy to read and very helpful. And encouraging! She makes a daunting task accessible. I have some wire wrapping experience, but am irrationally scared of cabochon wraps. Can't wait to find a few hours or days to finish Tela's book, and give the scary border wrap a try. ;-)

  5. What a wonderful review and format! I agree with everything you said.

  6. I purchased Tela's book the moment I learned it was published. Sadly, I've had little time to try anything. Tela's work is absolutely impeccable! I love her approach to wrapping cabs and how she goes about the creative process of doing so. I highly recommend buying it.



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