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.


Bead or Pendant

This weekend, while I was finishing up a few items for the upcoming Bead Bazaar, September 8-9, I started thinking about the difference between a bead and a pendant.  What makes a bead a “bead” and a pendant a “pendant’?  Most of the items I’ve submitted for sale at the Bead Bazaar are one sided, flat backed, but pierced through like a bead.

Merriam Webster defines a bead as ” a small piece of material pierced for threading on a string or wire” and a pendant as “something suspended: as an ornament (as on a necklace) allowed to hang free”.  So, the hole is the important thing that defines a bead.  So I guess a bead could also be a pendant, but a pendant might not also be a bead.



Listening to Lindly

6 years ago or so, I was in one of Lindly Haunani’s polymer clay workshops, Textile Inspirations, when she looked at the samples I was working on, and said “Your really need to add some darks or lights to make this sing.”  I’ve taken several other classes from her since then, and she reminds me of her advice almost every time.  Left to my own devices, I tend to choose colors of mostly similar values.

Yesterday (and continuing on today), I took Lindly’s advice to heart and added some lights and darks when the colors I was using in my latest ripple blade polymer clay canes were a bit too similar in value.

Yes, I’m still playing with ripple blade canes.  I can’t stop!

So… yesterday, I made a giant rainbow skinner blend, and then divided it into a blue green blend and a purple orange blend.  Then I took a portion of each blend and added white and pearl.  I made a striped stack of each, along with a solid color.  For the purple orange blend I used a stripe of Premo 18K gold:

Polymer clay blended sheets and canes - purple to gold

In the photo, you can see the two versions of the blend, the striped stack and resulting ripple dot pattern.  It’s pretty, but the color values are all pretty similar in the end result.  So I used the rest of this blend and added a stripe of a very pale yellow and a dark plum.

Polymer clay canes from blended stack layers with highlights

The addition of the light and dark colors (especially the light) really woke this blend up!  In the photo above you can also see the different patterns you can get by slicing with a traditional ripple blade (bottom row) and then by slicing with the tiny ridged blade sold in the Polyform Super Slicer pack (top row).

Here are the blue green blend canes.  The first photo shows the green blue blend with a dark teal stripe added.  The result reminds me a bit of William Morris wallpaper colors.

Polymer clay blended sheet in blues and greens

The top row shows slices made with the larger traditional ripple blade and the bottom row pattern was made using the tiny ridged blade.

For more contrast, in the second blue green blend stack, I added the same color stripes I used in the purple to orange canes.  (I did lighten the plum color a bit.)

It’s a totally different feel, isn’t it?



Bead Dreams 2010 – Polymer Clay Category

The Bead Dreams 2010 exhibit and ribbons are up.  Congratulations to the winners and finalists in the polymer clay category.

First Place:  Lynne Schwarzenberg – “Beautiful Baroque”

Second Place:  Lludmya Heggland – “Sea Slugs Jewels”

Third Place:  Janice Abarbanel – “Rainforest”

Congratulations also to the other finalists:  Karen Poole – “Beaver Necklace” and Jacqueline Gittens – “Apple Red Rose”

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