The word passion is often bandied about, particularly when it comes to someone’s fervor for the creative arts. This overuse risks diminishing an exquisite description of one’s all-consuming drive. But in the case of award-winning gemstone carver Helen Serras-Herman, no better word-picture could be presented. The sub-title on the cover of her latest book reads, An Artist Shares Her Journey and Passion for Art, Jewels, Gems.
Body of Work
In her latest release, Carved Gems Inspiration & Expertise, we are treated to a concise tome that captures Helen’s life’s work. And importantly, it serves as a record of the journey she’s taken to arrive at her destination of passion for carving gemstones. Family history and major milestones punctuate the path she’s been traveling for a lifetime. No artist’s talent ever develops in a vacuum. Our life experiences and observations help to frame our personal perspective and fine-tune our sense of aesthetics. And this is precisely what we learn about how her sensibilities were developed.
She invites us to journey with her on her globe-trotting adventures while she explains what transpired in her persistence to learn all there was to know about gemstone carving. Along the way, she’s picked up loads of awards plus an induction into the National Lapidary Hall of Fame.
This journey to gemstone greatness did not happen overnight. “Having participated in more than 400 gem shows over the years, a friend called us [she and husband Andy] ‘road warriors’, a label that truly reflects the demanding life of many gem and mineral dealers,” she remarks.
Happy to Share
Many talented artisans often present their life’s work in books as a testament to their achievements. That’s perfectly fine. But Helen takes it a step further and shares practical insight into the hows and whys of expert gem carving. This generous information-sharing is done with complete abandon. Presenting essential tools or discussing the carving peculiarities of different materials are all freely shared for whomever can benefit from this insight.
It is a book celebrating her life’s work to be sure. But she also reveals through the timelines exactly what inspired her work. Here we simultaneously learn about Greek history, world historical sites, and the enthralling American southwest she’s called home for decades. “Decode the past,” Helen challenges. “Make your own interpretation.”
You don’t have to know anything about carved gemstone jewelry or gem sculptures when you open the first page of this book. But you’ll soon find yourself immersed in both the scholarly trips she took and what she gleaned from her extraordinary education in the field.
She’s so thorough that she even shares inside tips on pricing one’s work, setting up displays, and how to evaluate gemstone patterns when buying rough material.
“Early on, I loved carving transparent crystals of rock crystal quartz, amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, and topaz,” she reminisces. “But once I was introduced to the colorful gem materials larimar, ocean jasper, astorite, tourmalines, and opals, I was enamored with them and the possibility they offered to become a jewelry canvas which I could enhance with other gemstones.”
In the end, not only does her passion for gemstone carving spill over to the reader, but we also become enamored with the entire process of gemstone carving ourselves. With more than 300 color photos, it’s hard to put the book down. Well done, Helen, well done.
Learn more about Helen at gemartcenter.com.