The first time I read Kate Richbourg's new soldering book Simple Soldering, I found myself smiling and even laughing at times, because mixed in with all the great tips and informative soldering tutorials is Kate's personality. It's hard to find words to describe it–fun and bubbly just don't work. She's witty and retro and unique and quirky and clever and so much more. Check out my favorite lines from her new book and you'll see what I mean.
1. On how to store wire: "First, never let the wire see your fear. That alone will keep those coils in line." Ha! She follows with some great advice for storing wire, by the way.
2. "Whether you have a large room or a cozy corner in which to practice your craft, proudly proclaim it My Studio." I do this one all the time now. I used to call it my office/craft room or just my craft room, even though my jewelry bench and desk with laptop, etc. are also in there, but henceforth and forevermore, it's my STUDIO!
3. "Heat the metal, not the solder." When I read this, it reminded me of Tom Hanks' character Joe Fox in You've Got Mail saying, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." So that's how I hear it in my head now. "Heat the metal, not the solder." Plus it's great advice. Even though I knew that's what I was essentially doing and supposed to do, I never thought of it that way. It puts things in new perspective and helps remind us where to aim the flame! Hmm. "Aim the flame." I like it.
4. On how to store those tiny bits and pieces used in jewelry making: "We all know that small pieces like to live on the floor." Ain't that the truth? Kate recommends corralling them in a tackle box for convenient storage. That's also a great way to pack 'em up and take 'em with you, to Tucson, or a jewelry-making class, or your Mama's house, or wherever!
5. "Read all the labels and instructions that come with your tools and equipment. You might be surprised at what you learn." This is a big one for me, because I never read instructions. Odd, I know, considering most of my career has involved writing instructions. I even start putting together DIY furniture and such without reading the directions first. Bad Tam! But I'm working on it.
6. "It's not as dangerous or as expensive as it seems." Even if I didn't know she was talking about soldering, I'd want to do whatever it was she was talking about, wouldn't you?
7. When using liver of sulfur: "You will want to work in a well-ventilated area. (Trust me on this one. It smells like rotten eggs.)" Now tell me, how often are you told to work in a well-ventilated area? How often do you actually do it? I admit, I don't pay as much attention to that advice as I should. But when you threaten me with the stench of rotting eggs, I'll heed your word!
8. On seeing well when soldering: "Pick up an inexpensive pair of reading glasses at the drugstore that have a slightly higher magnification than your current pair. Getting a new pair of glasses is far easier than soldering at arm's length!" So true! I don't need to wear glasses at all (yet), but I still value and appreciate the close-up view that I have when I work in my CraftOptics, especially when doing something detailed and important like soldering jewelry that can't easily be undone and fixed later.
9. "Goofs are a necessary and valuable part of the learning process." Kate's soldering book is built around a sampler premise, in which you learn twelve metalworking and soldering lessons while creating twelve little sampler tiles, before you move on to actual jewelry projects. This allows you to practice, to make your mistakes and get them out of the way as you master the techniques on inexpensive metals and less precious pieces (since they're samplers intended for this purpose, after all). This is a good reminder for me, because I'm always so eager to do whatever it is I'm doing that I sometimes ruin precious or one-of-a-kind supplies in the process, when I could have benefitted from some practice rounds on "samplers" to get past the goofs. So I'd add "inevitable" to that statement: goofs are necessary, valuable, and inevitable!
10. And finally, my favorite: "You were on your way to becoming a soldering genius the moment you picked up this book." It's so true! I have so much respect for Kate's process of learning samplers before moving on to jewelry projects, and I know it will help even the most timid, inexperienced beginners master soldering.
It's always good to have fun while you're learning something, right? Kate's Simple Soldering: A Beginner's Guide to Jewelry Making is a great way to have fun while learning how to solder, as well as learning lots of great info about wire, metal, jewelry tools, and more. You've probably seen the traditional print book with DVD, but now you can also get Simple Soldering as an eBook and video instant download–no shipping, no waiting! Learn more about Kate and Simple Soldering and make this free copper tube bead project from the book!