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4.7 out of 5 stars
Fairies, Gnomes & Trolls: Create a Fantasy World in Polymer Clay
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book while browsing the shelves in a bookstore and my only regret is that I didn't know that the author is offering an autographed copy on her website! I'll probably order one at some point because this book was exactly what I needed to move on to the next stage in my art and I'm forever in her debt. I started sculpting with polymer clay about five years ago and up to now was entirely self-taught when it came to sculpting figures. Just a month or so before finding the book, I attempted faces but knew I had a long way to go. Maureen's book is just what I needed and more.

Her instruction on proportion is excellent and she shares many valuable tips on working with this medium, which can be very sneaky and tricky. From the point of an intermediate level and experienced artist, the instruction is extremely easy to understand and put into practice. Exact measurements are given whenever possible, making each project practically foolproof. I believe that the book is also very valuable to the absolute beginner but would recommend that they take their time and spend a great deal of time becoming familiar with the quirks of polymer clay before expecting to complete the projects quickly and easily. If I had only one tip to offer, it would be that when your clay "turns gumby," as I call it when it becomes stretchy and too soft, put it down and let it rest because you are not going to get anywhere with it until it does.

Every project is adorable and easy to accomplish. In addition to a good variety of characters, projects for props such as tree spirits and fairy portals are also provided so that you can create an entire fantasy village! So far, I've made three of the characters and am very pleased with the results, even on the first try. My first figures turned out a bit larger but it was very easy to scale them down on the next attempt. You'll learn how to create and use armatures and molds and sculpt faces, body parts and even clothing! I love the way that each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the characters, The Storyteller, (who bears a strong resemblance to the author!) and that we're guided through each project with tips from another character, Woodpecker Pete. I own several books on polymer clay technique and this is one of the few that I intend to keep forever. It hasn't made it to the bookshelves since I brought it home and it's unlikely that it ever will. The stock that the book is printed on is also very sturdy and will hold up to many hours of flipping through and holding it open for a reference.

Investing in this book increased my skill level tremendously in a very short period of time. I have already applied so much of what Maureen teaches to my own work in sculpting goddesses and dancers.

I also love the way that the author nurtures creativity by encouraging us to tell stories with our art, as she does. This book is so much more than a technique manual. It's a treasure that belongs in every clay artist's toolbox and a priceless investment.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the third book I've bought by Maureen, and like the others it is informative and fun.

There are plenty of projects from beginners to advanced.. although I wish there had been a little more of the complicated stuff.

Couples nicely with "How to Make Clay Characters" if you're an absolute beginner.

This book is beautifully designed also, so even if you don't end up making something from it, it's a pleasure to thumb through the pages.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
ABSOULETLY a wonderful book, Artist, Author, Publisher & Photographer did a great job in the easy step by step instructions for all level-skills for these projects in use of Polymer Clay. A MUST for your library, but rest assure it will not sit on your shelf, but used over an over again.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a good example of the gap that exists between "I know how to do this" and "I know how to show other people how to do this."

The instructions for making the dolls start off wonderfully detailed. They are very precise about what color of clay to use, what size balls to start with, what shapes to mold, where to place the shapes. I had no trouble getting my versions to look exactly like the ones in the book, up to the point where the shapes were laid onto the head. Then in the next picture, the head had been completely transformed from basic shapes to fully rendered face, with the only instruction being "smooth and shape the features". Where are the detailed instructions of how to do that, exactly?

That said, I did learn a lot from this book about the basics of sculpting a face. Unfortunately, I had to learn the rest through trial and error. "Smooth and shape" and "add details" are not sufficient instructions to give someone who does not know how to sculpt, and let's face it, if I knew how to sculpt, I would not be buying books on the subject.

When I do master this skill, through much more trial and error, I plan on writing a "How to" book that actually shows a novice, in excruciating detail, how to do it. Better to have a book that uses it pages to show you exactly how to make one figure than a book like this one that kind of sort of shows you how to make dozens.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to say I love all of Maureen Carlson's books but this is by far her best yet.It is well illustrated.The projects are easy to follow with GREAT pictures to help you along in the proccess.Every project also gives you a list of supplies needed.I just love her work and am thankful that she shares her techniques and ideas.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Excellent pictures and step by step instructions. Some of the projects and techniques are a little basic, but not all. I picked up some great techniques to use with other projects. Well worth the read. It would be really good to read to your kids from while you do some of the projects as the author tells a series of stories as she lays out the formats for the projects. Something different than the usual craft/project book but with just as much useful information.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I work with clay with the children in my daycare alot. We make up stories and I scuplt to their direction. This book helped me learn a great deal of techniques and give the children ideas for stories! Thanks Maureen!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a book full of ideas and inspiration to keep your mind just "Boggled " with ideas. Clearly shows step by step on 15 different projects from start to finish. Lots ideas and suggestions at the bottom of many pages from "Woodpecker Pete", (a character that will bring a smile to your face). I think anyone wanting to learn to sculpt will enjoy this book as much as I did!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I am new to sculpting and polymer clay. I bought this book as well as 3 others to help me learn techniques and basic "what do I do with this lump of clay?". I browsed thru all 4 when the books arrived and I still have NOT gone back to the other 3 books - after a week! This book is a joy to read. I've skipped around projects, browsed thru the beautiful pictures and checked out the "helpful hints" placed thru-out the book. Unlike many computer manuals and "Dummies" books, the hints in this book are REALLY useful. I can see myself referring back to this book for years to come - long after I feel I'm no longer a beginner. I am definitely going to purchase other books from Maureen Carlson. She's one of those people that is not only good at what she does, she's able to explain it without making it seem like she's a Mensa memeber OR that she is "talking down" to you. TEN stars!! If you want to hear any "cons" (to go with the above "pros") I'd say that I will not do most of the projects in the book. However I didn't buy it to learn other people's projects. I just want to learn how to do what I want to do. By reviewing her projects I'm learning what I need to do different aspects of mine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book has great instructions for making fantasy creatures. Not only are the projects great, but the page layouts are beautiful. This would make a great gift book for anyone interested in fairies, gnomes and such.
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