Book Reviews

The Polymer Clay Artists Guide A directory of mixes, colours, textures, faux finishes and surface effects by Marie Segal

This book was the first one I ever bought to support the start of my polymer clay journey 4 years ago. It was an excellent choice and remains my ‘go to’ book whenever I need a bit of inspiration or a piece of quick information. The main premise of the book is to guide the reader through the numerous techniques that can be applied to polymer clay. It was this that was such a revelation to me when starting out and I realised I had found a medium that would just keep on giving. As it says on the front cover, it is a directory of mixes, colours, textures, faux finishes and surface effects. The effects included are texture, inclusions, printing, caning, patterns, mosaic and embellishments.The book begins by giving a brief overview of basic skills, colour mixing and finishing. This is followed by the directory of effects which follows a similar format throughout the book. Each well laid out chapter gives information and materials list and shows how to achieve the technique using excellent photos and easy to follow instructions. I like the fact that it is not too wordy. This is followed by tile samples showing and explaining variations of the main technique. Every chapter finishes with a gallery of polymer clay artists’ work, showcasing how they have used the different techniques shown, within their work. The author, Marie Segal is a professional artist and has been working with polymer clay for over 30 years. She helped to develop Premo clay so her knowledge of the medium is excellent.The book was a constant source of inspiration for me during a recent project I took part in where I committed to producing a tile a day for 100 days. My goal was to utilise as many techniques as I could and put them together into a large finished wall piece (see below). Although I chose to produce many of the techniques as tiles in this instance, every idea can be used to produce stunning jewellery or sculpture as is show in the ‘Artists at Work’ sections throughout the book.This book is suitable for anyone just starting out on their polymer journey or for those to want extend their creative horizons. I think it is easy to navigate and totally inspiring. If I could only keep one polymer clay book on a desert island, it would have to be this one.

published in 2013

review by Jane Cox 

Polymer Clay By Irene Semanchuk Dean

Reviewed by Tracey Jones


I cannot remember how I came to own this book, possibly given to me
as a gift or a charity shop find anyway, it really is a useful guide into
various ways of using polymer clay. I would say it is very good for the
beginner and also a good reference book too.

It starts by giving you a bit of an insight into the different clays, useful for
the beginner, also how to mix the clay to get the desired colour.
Tools, baking and storing of the clay is explained and this again if you
are new to this medium all very useful information.
Very clear pictures showing some different materials that can give you
textures on your clay. Information on inclusions including mica powders,
embossing powders, crayon shavings to name but a few.
Although I have been playing with clay for the best part of 10 years now
this book is still one I go to just to give me a little inspiration when my
‘mojo’ is a bit down, we all know it happens now and then.
There is a great part about simple cane making which to me really brings
you back to the basics and allows you to start again so to speak and
realise that this wonderful medium does have so many capabilities but
can give some beautiful results with pretty simple techniques.
I especially like the projects shown as they are clear and precise plus a
good variety to choose from all showing different techniques, simple but
I believe it was published in 2000 so close to 20 years old but the
information and techniques are still very relevant.
For me this is one book I will not be letting go for some time to come.

Polymer clay Bracelets by Bettina Welker

Publish in 2012

 I first met Bettina at the inaugural Polymania, her work really inspired me, her use of colour and textures igniting my passion for textures in a big way. So when I found out she had a book on bracelets I just had to buy it. What do I think of it? I love it, a fabulous book, project based, lots of transferable techniques.

So let me break it down, it’s a clear concise book, not a beginners book, you need to have some existing skills to make some of these projects work well. It’s written in German and English with step by step instructions, they are thoughtfully composed to give you exacting instruction that enable you to follow the projects clearly.

The fore section explains about polymer clay, the tools, material and the basic techniques you need to understand for the projects, importantly you are guided through building a bracelet blank which is important to the following projects.

There are 10 projects broken down into 4 sub sections covering bangles, stretch tile bracelets, cuffs and a hinged magnetic bracelet.

The instructions are accompanied by beautiful step by step pictures that demonstrate the stages for each project. In fact the photography and imagery is a work of art in itself.

You get to understand the construction process, templates are provided so you can follow exactly as instructed but then Bettina goes into detail on the use of blends, creating textures, using surface techniques that give each project its unique look. Each project is packed with tips and tricks to ensure success. These skills are all transferable to other projects. 

Reviewed by Debby Wakely

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