In November 2011, Dan Cormier and Tracy Holmes released their ebook Relief Beyond Belief. I’ve had time to read it several times, and to use the techniques. I find myself referring back to it often. Several parts of the dieforming technique have become regular bits of my bead/pendant making process. While finishing up beads for the annual Bead Bazaar, I started thinking about this book. So… here I am, finally getting around to writing my review.
First of all, I think this is a fantastic book. It’s possibly the best, most fully developed polymer clay technique book around, in part because of its narrow focus, but largely because of format and content the book itself. Dan and Tracy refer to the book as a “master class” and it truly is that. It’s a perfect road map to making beautiful dieformed beads with polymer clay. It’s full of clear photographs and text explanations, as well as a gorgeous gallery section of finished pieces. If you follow the instructions, you can’t help but make a beautiful and elegantly constructed bead, and you will learn a lot along the way.
One reason I wanted to write this review was that I recently heard someone comment that they thought Relief Beyond Belief was very expensive. Personally I think this book is a real bargain because it is a complete master level workshop. You would have to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars to take a comparable class. In fact, I took a version of this workshop when Dan came to Connecticut to teach a couple of years ago. I can tell you that the ebook goes far beyond the workshop in the amount of detail and visual information. And you can go back to it again and again. My class notes don’t even come close. I loved the process and the results when I took the workshop, but I didn’t start to really use the technique a lot until I got the ebook.
I am hoping that Dan and Tracy will come out with other ebooks because they’ve really done such a fantastic job with this first one. The layout is graphically pleasing, logical and easy to follow. The format is perfectly suited to use on an iPad, but I am told it’s great as a pdf on a traditional computer as well. Clearly I admire Dan’s work and I like his teaching style. This book is very indicative of Dan Cormier’s approach to polymer clay, lots of thought and attention to detail.
If your main focus in working with polymer clay is not jewelry, this probably isn’t the book for you. If your style is very loose and fast-moving, you tend to create on the fly and just the thought of multiple steps makes you twitchy, it may not be your cup of tea. But I still think it’s worth considering. If you like very specific instructions along with explanations about why you should do certain things and not others, you’ll love this book. If you’re interested in making polymer clay beads or jewelry, and you’re interested in taking your work to the next level, I highly recommend Relief Beyond Belief.
Now that the girls are home from camp and we’re busy getting ready for the start of school (next week, I am counting the
hours days), creative pursuits are on the back burner. I am hopeful I’ll be able to squeeze in an occasional hour or two in the studio, if only to keep my sanity. In the mean time, rather than bore you with all the school supply shopping, doctors’ appointments, driver’s ed classes, hair cuts and so on, I thought I’d share my thoughts on two great new craft books.
Mastering Beadwork by Carol Cypher The sub-title for this book is “A Comprehensive Guide to Off-loom Techniques”. That’s a pretty ambitious statement. Well, I’d have to say, it lives up to its ambitions. If you have any interest in seed bead work, you should get this book. It explains all the major off-loom stitches with projects that progress from basic to advanced. The author provides interesting examples of where you could experiment with interesting variations. The projects even look enticing. I don’t say that very often with beading projects in books or magazines. I even like the way the book lays flat on a table. It’s a great book.
New Directions in Metal Clay by CeCe Wire It’s no surprise that this is an excellent precious metal clay book since the author’s first book was very good. I especially like this book because the aesthetic is very contemporary and reminiscent of traditional metalwork. I am not a big fan of the, for lack of a better word, “organic” style of precious metal clay. The projects in this book take advantage of metal clay’s unique properties, but with a fresh clean style. The work featured in gallery photos throughout the book is exciting and inspiring. If you’re interested in metal clay this book would be an excellent addition to your library.
I admit I love craft books. If you’ve visited my studio you’d probably call me a craft book junkie. I’ll also admit that I own a lot of mediocre craft books, and also some really weird art books. I wouldn’t recommend either of those types of books to anyone else. I can tell you honestly that neither of these books are mediocre or weird. They are both great new books that I recommend wholeheartedly.
I just bought a copy of Mixed Media & Metal Clay Jewelry by Sherri Haab. If you are at all interested in Precious Metal Clay, it’s a great book. I have a couple of other books by Sherri Haab and I think this might be my favorite.
More about this book in particular: The layout and photography is crisp, clear and easy on the eyes. The individual photos are clearly labelled with the artist’s name. It’s surprising how few books on art jewelry have clear attribution for the pieces. It’s got a solid section on PMC basics and really great sections on: cold connections, making bezels and adding color to metal clay. The projects include combining metal clay elements with leather, polymer clay, resin, paint, transparencies & transfer images, concrete, ceramic and dichroic glass.
The contributing artists are fantastic. I was particularly excited to find projects by Robert Dancik and Wendy Wallin Malinow. Not your every day craft project designers. I really like the fact that there are more books available all the time that elevate the craft book arena into fine crafts. Lark Books series on The Art of Jewelry is a great example of this, and other publishers are coming along too.