Making Polymer Clay Beads Review

Making Polymer Clay Beads: Step-by-Step Techniques for Creating Beautiful Ornamental Beads
by Carol Blackburn

It’s amazing how much info can be stuffed into a book.  This book begins with sections on materials, equipment and workspace, conditioning and baking,making and measureing snakes, strings and sheets, color mixing.  Then the beadmaking part begins.  At the top of each page are examples of beads using the techniques and shapes discussed on that page.  Some topics covered in this section include: drilling, sanding, polishing and varnishing, molding, caning, extrusions, foils, powders and glitters, texturing, transfers, and mokume gane.  These are not detailed instructions or projects but overviews of the techniques with limited instructions.

Next is a section on faux techniques including:  veined marble, leather, amber, coral, bronze and silver, and an amazing realistic onyx.  The last section is about using the beads in jewelry.  It discusses findings and thread, attaching findings, and basic design.  next is a 10 page gallery with artists names, title of work and small explanations of techniques used.  There’s tons of pictures all through this book.

I find this book to be a good reference book.  I did learn a few new things but mostly it’s a reminder of things I knew.  I did see some bead shapes I don’t normally use that I think I may try.  The veined marble is an interesting technique I’d not seen before, though after seeing my first try at it, next time I’ll grind the clay in the coffee grinder instead of chopping it by hand.  It’s also quite a bit of work sanding the excess paint away even though I plan to toss them in the tumbler for the remaining grits.

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Creating Life-Like Figures in Polymer Clay Review


Creating Life-Like Figures in Polymer Clay: A Step-By-Step Guide (Paperback)
by Katherine Dewey

The book begins with a disscussion of polymer clay brands.  Next are sections on basic sculpting shapes and tools.  Then it gets into the real sculpting.  First is the face and it doesn’t get any more detailed.  From proportion to armature to step by step thru sculpting the face and ethnic and gender differences to eyes, this book covered everything you could possibly want to know.  Next is the torso, then legs, hands and arms.    Then a discussion on different scale proportions, costumes made of clay,  and finally finishing your sculpture (hair, paint, and fairy wings.)  There are tips and tricks scattered liberally throughout the book and lots of good pictures and diagrams.

This is an amazing book.  Using it I’ve sculpted my first realistic body (and it looks pretty good).  I’ve also made a head which isn’t so good, but that’s due to my lack of talent, not the book’s intructions.  I’ve not yet gotten to arms and legs and the rest of it.  Due to my own inabilities I can’t sculpt very long without getting extremely frustrated.  That said, when I get the sculpting bug this book gets heavy use.  I couldn’t produce anything decent without it.

Published in: on April 4, 2007 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  

1000 Glass Beads Review

1000 Glass Beads: Innovation & Imagination in Contemporary Glass Beadmaking

You might be wondering why a polymer clay artist is reviewing a book on glass beads.  It’s simple, really.  Eye candy!!!

This book is overflowing with amazing beads.  400 pages of breathtaking beads.  It’s a book I look through when I’m in need of inspiration.  Most times, due to the differences in mediums, I cannot replicate a glass bead (actually, I can’t replicate anything, not even my own beads, my brain twists things when I try).  But the attempt often yields something that is at least interesting and sometimes is even stupendous.

Each picture has the artist’s name, the name of the bead(s) (if there is one), dimensions, and materials used.  Sometimes that materials used is helpful when trying to replicate the bead in clay.  It gives one an idea of colors to use or whether to add foils.  There are interesting color combos, bead shapes and textures in many of the beads in this book.

Overall, get this book for the infinite inspiration that it holds.


Published in: on April 3, 2007 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Fairies Gnomes & Trolls Review


Fairies Gnomes & Trolls: Create A Fantasy World in Polymer Clay
by Maureen Carlson

This book begins with a section a sculpting basics – making a plan, proportion, armatures, patterns, shapes, basic techniques, hands, feet and face.  It then moves on to the individual projects, which are not just creatures.  First up is a fairy door, followed by sprites, a tree face, green man, trolls, gnomes, elves, a baby, and fairies.  The projects get more difficult as you go through the book, with later projects building on things learned in the earlier projects.

Each project has a detailed list of materials.  They are step by step with pictures for almost every step.  The steps are very detailed.  There are tips and tricks scattered liberally throughout the book.  Each projects ends with examples of variations, with some instructions.

What I like best about this book is that the creatures aren’t always pretty.  Sculpting is not one of my strong points and this book is perfect for me.  Beautiful delicate elves and fairies are just beyond my abilities at this point (not that I don’t stop attempting them).  This book shows that perfection is not always needed, sometimes it’s not even right.  Big noses, wrinkled skin, big ears, chubby bodies…all have their place in the fairy world.  I expect that making the “imperfect” creatures will help me learn how to sculpt and as I get more experienced I’ll be able to refine them into the delicate beauty that is typical of elves and fairies.

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Making Miniature Flowers With Polymer Clay Review


Making Miniature Flowers With Polymer Clay
by Barbara Quast

The book begins with a very short section the polymer clay basics before moving on to basic techniques needed to make the flowers in the book.  The flowers this book covers are roses, dogwood, daisies, cherry blossoms, pansy, daffodils, and irises.

Each flower begins with “What you’ll need” – clay colors, tools, paint colors (often optional).  The instructions are step by step – from making the centers (with and without stems) to each layer of petals and matching leaves.  Plus tips and variations.  There are plenty of pictures to help you understand each step.

The last chapter is project ideas – framed projects, jewelry and ornaments,  and other ideas.

To be honest, I’ve only used the rose instructions but I do love them and they are really easy to follow.  Someday I’ll move on to the other flowers.  Overall, this a a good book for sculpting flowers.

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 6:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Creative Techniques For Polymer Clay Jewelry Review


Creative Techniques For Polymer Clay Jewelry
by Nanetta Bananto

As usual, the book begins with the chapter on polymer clay basics.  The rest of the chapters are: Canes, Projects, Gallery, Templates, Transfer Images.

This book is really a study on how the same canes in different colors can affect the final look of an item.  There are 10 color palettes to choose from, though the author makes a point of encouraging you to try your own palettes.

The canes are all fairly simple – leaves, flowers, spiral, stripes, etc.  The projects are also fairly simple – pins, bracelets, pendants, earrings,  the most complicated on is a wearable vessel.  Each project is done in one color palette, however at the end of each there are pictures of the same project in other palettes.

For me, the magic in this book is how the canes are laid out and combined and how the same canes in different colors look so amazingly different.  I’d have to say this is more a beginner book in what it teaches but an experienced clayer will have fun exploring the different color palettes.

Published in: on March 30, 2007 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes Review


Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes: 100 Mixed-Media Techniques Plus Project Ideas
by Ellen Marshall

 As usual, this book begins with a section on polymer clay basics.  Chapters include:  Surface Techniques and Applications (Basic Surface Recipes and Surface Techniques Intensives), Projects and Gallery.

Basic Surface Recipes are just that, the basic techniques such as stamping, printing, painting, applying canes, inks, etc.  Each starts with a materials list and some short intructions and then 3 variations with shorted instuctions.  Pictures are large and clear.

Surface Techniques Intensives are more elaborate combinations of the basic recipes and include:  Airbrushing, Brocade, Masking with Wire, Ikat Color Blend, Batik Effect, etc.

The projects are easy to follow with step by step instructions, materials list and plenty of pictures.

The gallery is 18 pages of large photos with short explanations of techniques used.

For me this is an experiment and inspiration book.  The projects aren’t my style.  It’s interesting to see the myriad of things one can do to the surface of clay and quite a lot of messy fun trying them out.  Some recipes use ingredients that I consider unusual so don’t have on hand (someday I’ll get them and try out those recipes) but there’s plenty to play with using “normal” clay supplies.  It’s also encouraged my to think outside the box and try combinations of materials I wouldn’t normally try together.

This is the book I pull out and play from when I’m in the mood to clay but don’t really care if I produce anything usable.  And a few of the things I’ve learned I’ve added to my repertoire.

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay Review


Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay: 30 Techniques & Projects That Imitate Stones, Metals, Wood & More
by Irene Semanchuk Dean

In my opinion, this is the book on Faux techniques.  It begins with the usual section on clay basics.  The chapters include:  Gemstones, Metals, Natural Materials, Rocks and Stones, Surface Decorations.

For each technique there is first a section on how to do it, followed by a project.  The instructions are clear and easy to follow step by step.  There are plenty of pictures.  The book ends with 10 gallery pages.

I refer back to this book whenever I decide to do faux.  I particularily like the Turquoise, Jade, Cinnabar, and River rock.  They’re easy to do and the results are quite realistic.

Published in: on March 28, 2007 at 9:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Polymer Clay Creative Traditions Review


Polymer Clay Creative Traditions: Techniques and Projects Inspired by the Fine and Decorative Arts
by Judy Belcher

 This book isn’t so much an instruction book as it is an inspiration book.  It’s divided into chapters:  Glass , Metal , Fiber, Paint and Drawing, Stone Bone and Wood, Sculpture and Ceramics.

It begins with the usual section on clay basics.  The chapters begin with an overview of the inspiration material.  Then there are several “Demonstrations” (technique instructions). followed by several gallery pages showing polymer clay versions of all the techniques discussed.

The instructions are short and not detailed – not for beginners.  Sometimes it’s just a little explanation underneath a large picture.  There are only a few complete projects, mostly it’s just techniques.

There’s a wide variety of ideas in this book and the pictures are amazing eye candy.  I did find it annoying at times to see an awesome picture with no details of how to do it.  Overall, this is a great inspiration book and even the most advanced clayed will pick up a new trick or 2.

Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  

The Art of Jewelry: Polymer Clay Review


The Art of Jewelry: Polymer Clay: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration
by Katherine Duncan Aimone

An awesome book.  While the projects themselves aren’t to my tastes, the techniques are fun and expanded my boundries.

The book begins with the usual section on polymer clay basics.  Then some bits about special tools and materials.  All of this is interspersed with sidebars of gorgeous polymer clay works.

The projects are well written.  Each has a list of materials and tools needed.  The instructions themselves are step by step with plenty of pictures to help explain things.  There is a picture of the finished project on the first page of each project.

The projects themselves range from easy to somewhat difficult as well as quick to very time consuming.  Techniques covered include transfers, mosaic, caning, sculpting, screenprinting, texture, and more.

The book ends with 14 pages of awe-inspiring pictures from all the artists who submitted to the book such as Jeffery Lloyd Dever, Sandra McCaw, Pier &Penina, SL Savarick, Judith Skinner, Lindly Haunani and more.

While most of the techniques weren’t new to me, I learned variation of old favorites and expanded my boundries by trying some things I don’t normally do (mainly cuz the pictures looked soooooo cool).  This is an awesome book to have in your collection just for the eye candy.  I find myself paging thru it when I’m in need of inspiration.

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment