In order to set the scene for this six-week season of Brynmorgen Press book reviews, I asked Tim McCreight to give me some background into how the Press was set up. His response was so entertaining and informative that I've decided to publish as is - so thanks Tim, you've made my job easy this week!

 

A review of Charles Lewton-Brain's Foldforming will follow shortly. If you want to purchase any of the books or other media reviewed, a link to amazon.co.uk will be given with each review, however, if you want to see the wide range offered by this wonderfully friendly and helpful press, take a look at the Brynmorgen Press Catalogue. (Link is to the Kindle edition, for the 'real' version your best going to Brynmorgen).

 

 

 

Fresh out of graduate school and perhaps a month into my first teaching job, I visited a colleague and noticed a letter from a major publishing house tacked up on his wall. I congratulated him on writing a book and he said he'd been invited but turned it down. He suggested that I follow up and I did, and that led to my first book, "Metalworking for Jewelry." Like most first authors, it was a matter of three steps forward and two steps back, but I got the book finished (interrupted by the birth of our son and a house fire that destroyed all the illustrations. I followed this with "The Complete Metalsmith" for Davis Publications, a book that more closely followed my wishes than the previous one.

Two years after that book was published I pitched another idea to Davis, this one for a book to be called "Practical Casting." They said they liked the idea but were not forthcoming with a contract. Given enough (perhaps too much) time to think about it, I got the idea of publishing the book myself. This meant I would design the pages, choose the font, the paper, the cover... all new to me but things I thought I could handle. It also meant I needed to find a printer and pay for the book. This was a little more nerve-wracking. With heart in throat, I took out a second mortgage for $5000 (3100 pounds) and set to work. For the next year I was fixated on selling enough books to pay back that loan.... anything else would be good, but the pressing need was to sell about a thousand books to pay off the loan. I learned a lot about layout, marketing, and the kindness of strangers. I can now report that the loan has long since been repaid and the book has sold about 80,000 copies and is in its 15th printing. It has been translated into Russian and produced in a special edition in India. Phew!

I recall talking with a friend shortly after "Practical Casting" came out and he asked, "So, what's your publishing company going to do next?" I had no answer, except to say that I didn't fully realize that I had a publishing company. I was so focused on immediate needs that I hadn't looked much further ahead than next week. Well, I did do another book, then another, then another. At some point I started working with friends and colleagues and that now includes Jean Stark, Charles Lewton-Brain, John Cogswell, Mark Grimwade, Megan Corwin, and Nettie Landenwitch among others. I respect the intelligence and passion of these talented people and hope our collaboration yields something of genuine value to our community.

Oh, here's one more peek behind the curtain. I remember clearly meeting up with Charles Lewton-Brain at a conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG). We were at a picnic when he thrust a German book in my hands and said it should be translated into English. I don't speak German but I leafed through the pages and based on the pictures and his recommendation, I contacted the publisher in what was then East Germany. After some clumsy correspondence we agreed to terms and Charles set about translating the book. Though he studied briefly in Germany he would agree that he is not fluent in the language so the project took some time... more than a decade up to this point. Just as we were getting well along, the Iron Curtain came down and to my great surprise, I received a letter from the author, Dr. Erhard Brepohl. He had been informed of our efforts and wanted us to know that as a 60th birthday present to himself he had revised the book. We threw away most of the work that had been done and started over. Several more years of work ensued and the book, The Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing, appeard in 2001. By this time I had given up all hope of recovering expenses but I am happy to report that the book is now in its third printing and is sold around the world, including.... in Germany. By the way, Dr. Brepohl, who used to be forced to go the the town hall to make an international phone call, now uses email and is in touch with jewelers around the world.


 

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