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Making Polymer Clay Beads Paperback – April 1, 2007
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"A stunning gallery of handmade beads that might even cause a non-crafter to rush out and purchase blocks of polymer clay." Detroit News
"This book is a real gift to the polymer clay world." San Diego Polymer Clay Guild newsletter
"This stunning collection of bead possibilities is enough to make one fall in love with the versatility of polymer clay all over again." Monsters and Critics.com
"A concise yet comprehensive reference on this colorful medium." Art Jewelry magazine
"If you've ever thought about trying polymer clay but didn't know where to start, this book is perfect for you." South Jersey Bead Society
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It contains an extensive section on faux techniques, including wood, veined marble, leather, jade, silver, turquoise, lapis lazuli, ivory/bone, mother-of-pearl, abalone, bronze, amber, coral (had lots of fun making coral!), and easier ways than I had known up to now for making onyx, agate, and malachite. I especially enjoyed making the coral. There is also a section called "Bringing It All Together" that covers findings and threads, attaching findings, and designing with beads.
This book is good even for complete beginners, but also holds inspiration for clayers beyond that stage. Just a few of the headings in the Materials and Techniques section: drilling, sanding, polishing, and varnishing/extrusions/coiled beads/mokume gane/mica shift/molding/color mixing/applique/inlay/transfers/caning/and Natasha beads (called "Rorshach beads" in this book--which is another great name for them)
There are pictures of and directions for many unusual beads and although I had already learned most of the techniques described, I found a lot of useful tips and good ideas throughout the book and keep going back to it to remind myself of them and find more.
If I were pressed to point out a fault, that is the lack of help in finding sources for tools, findings, and materials. A few "source" companies are mentioned in the credits at the back, but with no information beyond their URLs. Most books in this field have at least a page or two with the names and addresses/URLs of companies that sell the materials mentioned in the book, telling which company sells what. There is, however, a 2-page index to the book's contents; and on the last page you will find URLs for some helpful sites such as Glass Attic, Polymer Clay Central, and Polymer Clay Daily. Some of these contain forums, but Glass Attic is a sort of compendium of forum conversations on all aspects of polymer clay use, almost like an encyclopedia.
So--no help finding tools and materials--but, ah well, nothing in life is perfect. This book is definitely worth having.
My main interest in this book has been section two "Faux Techniques" - wood, marble, ivory/bone, leather, amber, coral bronze, abalone, jade, mother-of-pearl (amazing), silver, malachite, turquoise, lapis, onyx, agate. For the most part, I have been extremely pleased at the outcomes of my efforts, but some of Blackburn's representations of imitating certain things could be better. Lapis - get the book "Polymer-The Chameleon Clay" by V. Hughes in order to get a more realistic lapis stone appeal, same as for jade - but this 2nd book is horrible when it comes to Turquoise (also described in Blackburn's book but still not as realistic as I would like...a difficult stone to mimic). So I use the Hughes book for some faux items. Blackburn does have some outstanding examples (IMHO) of Wood (not the ultimate best, but close); Veined Marble - compared to the real thing, I was amazed; Coral bead work was admirable and worth practicing to get it just right; Abalone - love it - very realistic; Jade was comparable to Hughes work; Mother-of-Pearl - truly striking, especially when making the colored pearls; Malachite - close but before YOU make it examine natural malachite in order to develop a more realistic color pattern but still closely following Blackburn in the color production end; Onyx - MY FAVORITE - actually it is more like a natural agate stone as typically when you think of onyx, it is black. Blackburn's Onyx is highly layered using products that I wish I would have thought of...but now I know...in order to get a REALLY natural looking agate stone bead. Blackburn's section on "Agate" in the "Faux Techniques" applies more to a cut stone of agate and she has produced some interesting pendant type pieces. But again, get an Agate book and try to mimic some of the patterns of real agates following Blackburn's technique. You won't be sorry.
Sections to use other books or to keep trying to find better ways to mimic these items are: silver, turquoise, lapis, bronze (this could go either way for some of Blackburn's pieces are admirable - same with her amber pieces), ugh on the leather look, and noooo on the ivory and bone beads. Books with more realistic bone are "The Polymer Clay Techniques Book" by S. Heaser - and pay attention to the antiquing section for bone or "Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay" by I.S. Dean where the best looking bone look is shown. However, both these books lack the more detailed descriptions and images that Blackburn provides in her book. Yet, Blackburn's work/descriptions are a great way to start from in getting the look you may want using products she recommends.
In the 3rd section of the book called "Bringing It All Together" - she does a great job of pulling the necessary items needed to really make the beads - from various jewelry findings, cording, attaching, designing...thus flowing smoothly into the final section "The Gallery." Many of the great polymer bead artists' work is shown here and definitely grab your attention. Yet this section is small as Blackburn focuses upon the other areas mentioned above and thus earning more stars from me as that is the reason I wanted the book...not for the gallery but for the great guidelines and examples to help ME develop my own pieces.
With all this being said...or rather written...by me, I guess I have to say there is not just one book for all things in polymer clay. However, I feel the layout, descriptions, images and all around clarity by Blackburn makes her book stand out in my library. I am glad to have the NUMEROUS other books, magazines, etc. on polymer clay plus seeing some of the extraordinary work by many artists focused on this medium - all of which increases my drive to improve my own work with polymer clay...and hopefully your own work as well. This medium is amazing and so available - use Blackburn's book as a great stepping stone and you definitely will not be disappointed.