I love to make faux beads from polymer clay and have been obsessed with it lately. Here are four of my favorite books. They contain plenty of recipes for making every kind of faux substance you can imagine.
A book I heartily recommend is Hinges and Hinge-Based Catches for Jewelers and Goldsmiths. It covers more than hinges and catches. You’ll find information on soldering and construction, some tool making ideas, and tips on solving technical and design problems. Even if you are not a Metalsmith, I recommend you read the book for examples of author Charles Lewton-Brain’s approach to creative thinking and problem solving:
“Thinking is the most important thing you can do as a goldsmith and a jeweler. Solving problems is what being an artist or craftsperson is about. Utilizing contrast and comparison helps in analyzing a problem. Look for patterns: if something looks like something else, there is probably a relationship, a link. . . .[from which]one can gain a deeper understanding of the principles behind them. This is the same approach used by scientists and art historians; one understands systems and problems by using contrast and comparison.”
In the same vein, I recommend you go to the Polymer Art Archive and read Rachel Carren’s explanation of why one of Victoria Hughes’s necklace designs works so well. Sure, we all read about design and take classes where teachers use abstract terms and diagrams. Maybe you could take a test on the class and get an “A,” but most of us are not going for the grades at this point. We want to improve our designs. Carren, provides a concrete analysis of how a master approached a design. How cool is that? The Polymer Art Archive contains some more examples of Carren’s insightful commentaries on design. Well worth a read.
Finally, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting a not-to-be-missed exhibit of Alexander Calder’s jewelry. The exhibit runs through November 2, 2008 at the newly-opened Perlman Building. This is the first exhibition devoted solely to Calder’s jewelry. What’s especially nice about it is the large number of pieces are displayed in glass cases so you can see the front and back.
Calder used cold connections and basic fabrication techniques to make his jewelry, but this didn’t limit him. All of his designs were well thought out and seem fresh 60 years later. If you can’t make it to the Museum, you can always order the exhibition catalog on line. Or you can do both like I did.
Visionary polymer clay artist Victoria Hughes is coming to the Artway at Polymer Clay Express in May to teach classes. She was slated to to teach a class on May 25 and 26 Hinged Mixed Media Pendants, but now she is letting her students decide from among several course offerings. She is teaching a class in Pietra Dura on May 23 and 24.
Victoria’s book, Polymer the Chameleon Clay is one of my all time favorites.
There’s lots more happening at Polymer Clay Express. Their Blog is an excellent way to keep up to date on classes and new products.