Thursday, July 16, 2009

Curling up with Good Books


The last time I played tag, one of the questions I had to answer was what I would do with $100.00 if I could spend it on anything. I replied, "Books". Well, I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. As a member of the Rings & Things blogging partnership, I was given a $50.00 gift certificate with the opportunity to buy anything from their wide range of lovely products. While I was completely tempted by their Sleeping Beauty and Kingman turquoise, I decided to check out the book section (which I had not previously visited, despite having been a Rings & Things customer for some time) before I made a final decision.

I was completely blown away by the interesting variety of books that the company stocks. Now, I'm not the type of person who snoops through medicine cabinets when I visit other people's houses (honest!), but I always snoop through bookshelves. I am a total bibliophile and love to see and hear about what others are reading. The selection of books that Rings & Things offers is extremely engaging - from recent releases to classic texts, some of which are relatively hard to find elsewhere, covering all aspects of beadmaking and jewelry design. Browsing through the company's book catalog really is just like browsing through the extensive personal library of a bead enthusiast.

I was quite interested to learn how Rings & Things puts together its catalog in this regard, and I recently had the good fortune to correspond with Noryan Baker, Rings & Things' astute buyer for "all things book related". Noryan uses a variety of criteria in choosing new titles to add to the product list, including whether "[t]hey have good example jewelry, they have easy to follow instruction, they use items that are readily available or that we stock, or is possibly a current trend that we think is a good idea. Good pictures/pictures of instructions are always a plus."

Currently, a team of five people of varying jewelry-making backgrounds will select titles, so that "there is little to no bias, [as] every individual has different experience with jewelry making in different areas and work in different parts of our warehouse, and they can offer their opinions based on such. " The result is a nice mix of titles covering everything from basic stringing to beadmaking, from craft business guides to the cultural histories of beads and beyond.

And what did I buy with my $50.00? Well, it was a difficult choice, but in the end I picked up Oscar T. Branson's Indian Jewelry Making, Lois Sherr Dubin's The History of Beads from 30,000B.C. to the Present and Elizabeth Harris's A Bead Primer. I'd heard good things about Indian Jewelry Making (and I happen to be an avid collector of such jewelry, primarily Navajo and some Zuni) but had never come across a copy, so I'm quite excited to add that metalworking book to my library. Likewise, I had been wanting a good book on, well, the history of beads for a while now, but, in my experience, a new copy of Dubin's book can be hard to come by these days. Sure enough - it's quite a fascinating read. I was not previously familiar with A Bead Primer, but it turned out to be a nice, concise pamphlet on various bead types, such as wound, drawn and molded ones.

According to Noryan, the bottom line for Rings & Things is to "try to offer books that have useful and interesting information, that can better an individual's experience or knowledge on the world of beading/jewelry." I think they've succeeded quite magnificently. If you have not already taken a peek at their interesting selection, I highly recommend a visit now by clicking here.

10 comments:

Christina J. said...

Great post! I also love to look at other people's bookshelves. I haven't seen any of these, but am interested in them now!

Dave Robertson said...

All this and more could be yours--at Rings & Things :) Thanks for a great blog-post idea, Melissa, and for carrying it out so (you know) readably. One additional secret behind why we carry so many good bead books: let me just say I've seen owner Russ's library. Wow...

--Dave

Melissa J. Lee said...

Thanks, Christina! They are all really interesting - I particularly like the one on Indian jewelry metalworking.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Dave, O-Ho! Now there's a library I'd like to spend time in. Thank you for the books - they are really wonderful!

Russ Nobbs said...

{laughing}
You have to dig past all the science fiction but Dave's right. I do have a lot of books on ethnic jewelry from many cultures, old jewelry books, bead pamphlets, books on gem enhancement and a lot of other things that I use to answer questions in bead forums and satisfy my own curiosity.

Africa Adorned and The History of Beads are among my favorites. I rarely open one of those without seeing beads I'd ever noticed before.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Russ, you are a man after my own heart - I love science fiction! I am reading a little C.J. Cherryh and William Gibson right now. I will take a look at Africa Adorned next! Thank you so much for visiting.

Lisa said...

What a great post! Wonderful idea.

Jeannie said...

What a lucky girl to be given $50. What a smart girl for choosing books. You have thought about a second career in book reviews for the New York Times?

Melissa J. Lee said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Melissa J. Lee said...

Jeannie, you are sweet. Wouldn't that be nice?