I'm not a huge jewelry person... but when I do wear jewelry, I'm hopelessly matchy-matchy. I love to have earrings that match the necklace. Bonus if there's a matching bracelet, too. It affects me to the point that, even if I absolutely love a necklace in my jewelry box, if I don't have the perfect earrings for it, I find myself not wearing it.
I'm guessing Isabelle Ceramy-Debray, author of Polymer Clay Beaded Jewellery, is the same way. Her new 48-page page book has instructions for creating several matching pieces for each technique — necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and more. This is a nice touch for beginners who want matching jewelry but who need extra guidance to make each specific piece. There are several things, in fact, that make this book best suited for beginners. But there are also a couple of reasons I'd prefer beginners pick up a different book instead...
This book was originally published in France in 2007. A few clunky word choices make it obvious that this is a translated version — things like keeping unbaked clay away from dust so you don't "spoil the clay," or where it says "false" instead of "faux" enamel. It's not a big deal — more the sort of thing that'll make you re-read the sentence than cause you major confusion.
The author starts with a brief section on polymer clay basics. I was a little surprised she recommended Sculpey III, but then again, beads aren't as prone to the breakage problems common with that brand. I do like the book's large photos of materials and supplies — 2.5 pages worth of very clear photos, labeled with each item's name and purpose. This is a nice touch, since beginners may not know, for example, what flat-nosed and round pliers look like and what each one is used for.
While these photos are very clear, there are some in the book that aren't so clear. Even some of the beauty shots are downright blurry. It makes me wonder if the out-of-focus look on the front cover is stylistic or if they just didn't have any shots that were completely in focus. Other than the problems with some of the photos, though, I liked the clean layout of the book. The beauty shots have simple props like glass vases, and they are incorporated nicely into the page design.
The ProjectsThere are 11 different designs in the book, which she uses to make 35 different jewelry pieces:
- Watercolor (necklace, bracelet, keychain, earrings)
- Savannah (necklace, earrings, pendant, ring)
- Marina (ring, necklace, bracelet)
- Primrose (earrings, hanging pendant, ring)
- Venice (necklace, keyring, earrings)
- Moonlight (earrings, necklace, ring, hair clip)
- Rosebud (hair clip, necklace, earrings)
- Coral (necklace, earrings)
- Trump heart (hanging pendant, earrings)
- Harlequin (necklace, bracelet, earrings)
- Tenderness (keyring, necklace, bracelet, brooch)
As you may notice, the names of the projects don't really tell you much. That's one of the things I dislike about this book. It does a decent job of covering polymer clay basics — things like using an extruder, making canes, adding inclusions, and doing Mokume Gane. But it does so without really acknowledging that these are all established polymer clay techniques. For example, it doesn't use the words Mokume Gane at all. So someone new to clay wouldn't know to look up that term for more ways to do it.
Another thing I personally disliked was the way the directions were written. Here's an example from p. 46:
"Take the balls B3, B4, J5, J6, R5, R6, V5 and V6. Cut each ball in half to make one B3a and one B3b, one B4a and one B4b, one J5a and one J5b, one J6a and one J6b, one R5a and one R5b, one R6a and one R6b, one V5a and one V5b, one V6a and one V6b."
It's a very specific, pattern-based way to write instructions. And perhaps it prevents misunderstandings. But I think it reminded me too much of algebra. (Oh wait, I liked algebra.) It was difficult to read, so my eyes glazed over and my brain resisted wrapping itself around the words. Granted, some people may prefer this very formulaic style. But to me, it just made things seem more complicated than they were. And I would imagine that would create a barrier for many beginners.
I had mixed feelings about the projects themselves. I liked five of them well enough to consider doing them: Watercolor (coiled extruder beads), Marina (Mokume Gane), Primrose (faux enamel), Coral (faux coral), and Trump Heart (clay inclusions). The techniques themselves weren't particularly unique on these, but I thought the color choices were pretty and the end results were nice. None of the other projects caught my eye.
I did discover a few new materials in the book, like copper wire sheathed in cotton. Granted, I haven't found it in local stores yet, so I don't know how difficult it will be to find. But it did look cool.
I mentioned that I liked having multiple jewelry pieces for each pattern. I also liked the fact that the book included several rings. Aside from Ancient Modern and Polymer Clay Mixed Media Jewelry, I can't think of any recent polymer clay books that have ring projects.
My ResultsI tried the Primrose and Marina instructions, and I was pretty pleased with the results of both projects.
I felt like the Primrose (faux enamel) project was very simple and resulted in very pretty results. The only tricky part is finding rubber stamps that work well for the technique — I suspect I'll be buying a few more stamps so I can play more with this idea. I liked the look of the ribbon necklace until I realized that she didn't include instructions for any sort of clasp. I feel like the measurements she gave for the ribbon make this necklace a little too short to tie on.
The Marina project showed an easy way to do Mokume Gane — perfect for beginners eager to see good results. The places where it called for "transparent white" confused me. Just a translation thing, I'm sure, but I wasn't sure whether to use my translucent or some mixture of translucent and white. [5/21/10 Note: Sue cleared this up for me in the comments -- I wasn't aware Fimo Effect's translucent was called translucent white. Thanks Sue!] And I found myself wishing the instructions listed pasta machine settings (I have no idea what thickness 1 mm is).
Just a handy note for those of you who like the bracelet finding here. She recommends some findings by Eberhard Faber, which I haven't found anywhere. But I tried Premo's new Fashion Art jewelry findings kit (now available at Michael's), and it worked perfectly here. Look for a separate review of that coming soon.
- Title: Polymer Clay Beaded Jewellery by Isabelle Cheramy-Debray
- Price: $11.86 plus shipping
- Includes polymer clay instructions AND jewelry assembly instructions.
- Has instructions for several matching jewelry pieces (necklace, earrings, etc.) for each technique.
- Not much in the way of new techniques.
- The instructions can be difficult to read.
- Who It's Good For:
- Polymer clay beginners who want full jewelry assembly instructions and don't mind wading through meticulously-detailed instructions.
Reviewed Materials Source / Disclaimer: This book/product was provided by the publisher, Search Press, for review purposes. No further compensation was received for this review. I always strive to be honest and unbiased in my reviews, but your results with the book may vary.