Leather Jewelry: 30 Contemporary Projects by Nathalie Mornu (Lark Books $21.95 US; $28.95 CAN) shows how simple it can be to make fun and funky jewelry using leather and an assortment of hand-tools. The jewelry designs are young, hip, and modern. The techniques are fairly minimal and accessible.
Materials, Tools, and Techniques
The introductory section first goes into some detail about the type of leather used as well as how to work with, store, and clean leather. The hardware section covers some supplies that will be familiar to the average jewelry maker such as ear hooks, clasps, and related findings, but then it also covers leatherworking supplies such as snaps and grommets.
The tools section provides photographs of leather tools including various types of punches you can use, and this segways into the techniques section which covers methods such as cutting, sewing, and punching leather. A combination of text, illustrations, and photographs explain each process.
For those who don't know how to make jewelry at all, there is a non-leather techniques section covering familiar methods like using crimping pliers.
The thirty project in the book are divided by type: necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets and cuffs, and hair accessories. This is also followed by a gallery section of jewelry pieces created by a other leather artists, though some additional inspirational gallery-style photos are exhibited in various parts of the book as well.
As the subtitle suggests, these projects are not throw-backs from the 1970s or hippie-era. They are sleek, modern, and very trendy. Some pieces would require a little "attitude" to wear, like the "Regina" choker-style necklace that has a ruffled affect of gathered leather and large filigree beads or the "Discoboa," a lariat design with twirling pieces of leather.
At the same time, there are also a lot wearable pieces that still have a trendy approach to them: "Sprig" is a patterned hoop style leather earring design: "Dot, Dot, Dot" is a super simple ring project; "Channels" is a unisex bracelet perfect for every day.
My only beef with this book (pardon the pun) is the use of fur sprinkled throughout. I say "sprinkled" because it is not a predominant material in the book, but it is in there. For me, this is an issue because I do not agree with the use of fur for accessories or clothing. In defense of the author, she does suggest recycling fur from trims found on vintage garments, so this is something to keep in mind if you are also bothered by the use of fur. Suede and leather may also be found and reused to make many of the projects in this book, and that is an option I like a lot since it is reusing materials that are very durable.
On the plus side, and I think is a major plus, this is one of the few books around that show how to work with leather, period. Back in the 1970s, leather-work was pretty popular, but it seemed to fade away and with it so did the techniques, which is a shame. It is great to see that Nathalie Mornu has revived it with a new twist for today's contemporary jewelry artist.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy