This past week, Publishers Weekly named Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry among its 2012 Best Books of the Year.

Publishers Weekly is the trade magazine for the publishing industry — booksellers, librarians, publishers, authors, and agents — as well as a newsstand magazine in select outlets. The magazine has been published continuously since 1872. In its 2012 “Best Books” recognitions, PW named a total of 120 books across 13 categories (top 10, fiction, mystery/thriller, poetry, romance, SF/fantasy/horror, comics, nonfiction, children’s picture, children’s nonfiction, and lifestyle) as the best books of the year, out of the truly countless books published. Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry is one of just three 2012 art or craft books so distinguished. So, the recognition is significant.

I learned about the honor a few weeks ago now, and I’ve had some time to reflect upon what it means. First, I shared the notice with the Lark Jewelry & Beading staff and complementary Lark Books and Sterling Publishing (our parent company) staff. The recognition is a testament to the work they do year-round and each and every day. I was hired at Lark as a senior editor six years ago this month, and the professionals at this company then and the professionals at this company now are simply the very best. Working with them has enriched me personally and professionally, and enormously so. They deserve this honor.

Three years ago, I moved from my work as a senior editor into a managerial role as a team lead, leading a group of editors and art designers to form the Lark Jewelry & Beading group. So now, having worked with the jewelry and beading communities for three years, I bring a perspective in looking at this recognition that reflects that experience.

It seems to me I’ve worked on a lot of books for a lot of outstanding art and craft communities to a fair amount of critical acclaim, including for these 20 or so books with my name attached to them and many, many others while working with very talented authors and editors. But this level of note is unprecedented for me … and it’s a beading book.

Or, more accurately, a gallery book of beading artwork — part of the 500 Series recently renamed, at least in its jewelry and beading incarnations, the Showcase 500 Series.

What this honor says to me is that contemporary beadwork has come fully of age as an artistic medium and can be recognized as both craft and — often — fine art. So, of course, what this recognition really does is honor the beading community itself, the many talented and devoted artists of which it’s comprised, those artists who were generous enough to submit their work for consideration in the book, and those whose work was ultimately selected to be included.

This week, we’re going to do some outreach beyond this blog sharing news of the award. But, for now, while my name is on the cover of the book — I conceived the idea, did artist outreach, juried the entries, and ordered the images in the book — that can get entirely overblown.

I’m indebted to and, more than anything, humbled and graced by the talent and generosity both of the beading community and of my wonderful coworkers, those who worked specifically on this book and those who make working at Lark so rewarding and enjoyable each day.

I thank you all.

Here is the original review for Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry that ran in the August 7, 2012, issue of Publishers Weekly:

Opening this gorgeous hunk of a book is like walking into a high-end jewelry gallery. There are 500 full-color photographs of beaded jewelry—necklaces, rings, bracelets, pins and earrings—created by 275 artists with beads, wire, filament, and fiber. Some of the artists are well-known to beaders, like Carol Wilcox Wells and Diane Fitzgerald, and some not-so-well-known, with their work published for the first time. This makes for a heady blend of inspiration, ideas, and expression. Editor Hemachandra selected the 500 beaded objects from submissions by 360 artists from 30 countries. To his credit, no single style—bead weaving, bead embroidery, bead stringing—gets short shrift. The photography is of high professional standards, no Instagram shots by amateurs posted to Facebook, and is also instructively illustrative of the beadwork, offering closeup shots that will help the aspiring bead worker reproduce some of the techniques. One quibble: it would have been nice to include the artists’ countries of origin just below the photo of their work instead of in the index, saving the reader a lot of flipping back and forth. A list of artists’ Web sites would have been nice, too. (Aug. 7)

You can ask for the book at your local bookstore, and it is also available on Amazon and BN.com.


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