Dan Cormier’s Relief Beyond Belief Ebook

Dan Cormier Relief Beyond Belief

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.


Ripple Blade Techniques

I am preparing for a demonstration I will be giving at the 2012 Clay ConneCTion Retreat on Ripple Blade Mokume Gane.  This gotten me into the studio (I am finding it SO hard to concentrate on anything else!), and I had forgotten how much fun it can be to explore a technique in depth.  There’s less info on ripple blade techniques than I expected to find online.  The basis for what I’ve been doing so far  comes from techniques Jody Bishel demonstrated years ago at our retreat.  She also had a project in the book Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials.

Some of my samples:

Using pearl clays

Polymer Clay Ripple Blade sample A - Libby Mills

Starting with chopped clay of various colors

Polymer Clay Ripple Blade example B - Libby Mills

There’s a layer of glitter laden translucent clay in this one, but it barely shows

Polymer Clay Ripple Blade example C - Libby Mills

Rainbow stripes!

Polymer Clay Ripple Blade Example D - Libby Mills

I’m having so much fun playing around, making samples and exploring the effects of slight changes in the striped stack.  It’s addictive.  My daughter is getting tired of me enthusing about my latest samples.  She likes the zigzag patterns best, and I love the dots.


Studio Snapshot – Seth Lee Savarick

Artist name: Seth Lee Savarick


Location: Los Angeles CA

Website: S L Savarick Studio

Do you have a dedicated studio/artistic space? Yes

Where is it located? In what is supposed to be the dining area of my apartment. I also use the kitchen area for soldering and curing the polymer in the oven.


Is it a large or small space? pretty small at 9.5′ X 9.5′

What medium(s) do you work in? Polymer, Metal and Cast Resin 

Do you have a separate area for each? no


What one word would you use to describe your studio? Efficient.

What do you think is the best features of your studio? the layout makes great use of the space. The windows provide good ventilation and   I  like the way that the room, even though it is in the center of our home, still feels like it is its own space.


What would you change if you could? A larger space would be nice.

Can you share an organizational tip? Because the space is so small I only keep the supplies that I use most out in the studio. I store most of my supplies in Sterilite bins in a walk in closet that is about 20 feet from the studio. Grouping the supplies in bins makes it easy to pull out what I need and then put it back after I use it.


Describe the usual state of your work table? organized for the most part.


Does your work table face out into the room or toward the wall? Both. I sit between 2 work tables, one faces toward a wall the other face into the room but there is just about 18″ before the next wall of book shelves.


What’s one drawback of your studio/artistic space? It’s a bit cramped. I share it with my husband as it functions as our office too.

Do you have any studio mascots (pets, mannequin whatever)? I have a goat scull hung on the wall if that counts as a mascot. he is missing half of one of his horns. I hung him up to remind me that even though things are not always symmetrical and perfect they still can be beautiful.

Do you have an idea wall or inspiration board? no but I keep sketchbooks and idea journals close by. I also have a slideshow of inspirational images running as my screensaver on the computer all the time.

Do you listen to music in your studio? Absolutely! All the time.  What kind? Everything from Classical and Opera to Rap and Punk rock. MY musical taste is VERY wide. I love that I can make a playlist that fits my mood or the work that I am doing at the time. I also like to listen to NPR as I work.

Do you display your own work in your studio? just pieces I am working on

What’s one quirk or unusual feature of your studio? The windows open up into an alley way, so the view is a brick wall. but they provide great cross ventilation.


The Door

This is the door down to my studio space.  It looks innocent enough, and yet it has become my nemesis.  You see, I just can’t seem to get myself to open the door and head down to my studio.  I’m in a slump, feeling sort of blah and creating absolutely nothing.  If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I get derailed from creative work pretty easily, but this has been a rather extended slump.

I just can’t make myself cross the threshold.  I think about it.  I resolve to spend time just puttering around the studio, cleaning up or something.  No pressure plans.  But I stay rooted to my chair in front of the computer.  I come up with other tasks and busy myself.

I think I am coming to the end of this particular creative block however.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about writing this post, and talking about it is a step toward resolving my problem.  Maybe it’s because we had a guild meeting yesterday, and I always feel revived in the company of my friends.  In any case, this morning I had an idea for a mixed-media wall piece that I want to try.  I need to go shopping this week for some fiber and fabrics so it may take awhile for me to really start on it.  Still, the feeling of this idea building inside me may be enough to get me to open that darn door.

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