The New Clay  Techniques and Approaches to Jewelry Making

The New Clay Techniques and Approaches to Jewelry Making


Nan Roche

Although this book was published in 1991, I only discovered it recently. It was quite a revelation. It is probably the first book devoted to Polymer Clay; the name of this “new clay” hadn’t even been settled by then.

The first chapters cover Basics and Tools, much as later books, but the excellent Chapters 4 and 5 treat Color and Design in a depth that few general Polymer Clay books do.

The following chapters cover Basic Shapes, The Cane and Loaf (I don’t think we use that term now), Surface Treatments, Collage, Sculpture, Findings and Additional Applications. A most interesting final chapter, About Plastics and Hazards, explains the chemistry of Polymer Clay.

There are no projects in The New Clay, but a huge amount of guidance and number of design ideas. It is particularly strong on sculpting figures, and making face canes.

I think this book is worth owning for several reasons:

It was written before such techniques as the Skinner Blend, the Sutton Slice, and the use of an extruder were part of the Polymer Clay Artists’ repertoire. As a result, many of the techniques included in this book have been almost forgotten. I was particularly interested in the Candy Cane, and in the way shading was used before the Skinner Blend.

The work of 40 Polymer Clay artists is included in the book. Many of them – Kathleen Dustin, Ford and Forlano, Tory Hughes, Lindly Haunani, Maria Segal, and Sarah Shriver, are still well known and respected today. However, most of the rest seem to have disappeared from the scene. I was particularly impressed by the work of Jamey D Allen, Pier Voulkos and Kathleen Amt, whose careers seem to have taken them in different directions.

Sculpey Premo did not exist. Those artists working with Sculpey used Sculpey III, but because it was so soft, often combined it with Fimo.

We have come a long way since this book was written, but as a glimpse into the past, and as a different source of inspiration, it would be a useful addition to a Polymer Clay library. It is now out of print, but there are many cheap second hand copies for sale on the web.

Reviewed by Enid Winder