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Category Archives: Reviews

high5 polymer clay: book review – polymer clay color inspirations

Whether color fascinates or frustrates you, Polymer Clay Color Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes will be one of the most used reference books in your library.  Although geared towards use with polymer clay, this book is valuable to anyone working with color. Through clear explanations, diagrams and a series of exercises, Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio demystify color for the color-challenged (that would be me) and expertly guide readers on a journey designed to help you explore and analyze your color instincts and preferences as well as mix your own personal palette.

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Polymer Clay Color Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes

Cynthia Tinapple’s Forward is pure motivation to read the book:  “What I’ve found is that excellent color can rescue a mediocre design.  And color that’s off the mark or muddied can ruin the finest concept.  Your palette becomes your signature.  That signature is very personal.  It’s tied to culture and geography and weather.  It shifts with latitude, with attitude, and with age.  Learning about color means learning about yourself.”


The start of a collage…more to come

There is a quiz to determine your confidence level in working with color.  Here’s the first line of the description beside my score: “You often feel overwhelmed when making color choices.” Yes, that about sums it up. Until now, I’ve made most of my color choices intuitively and while people usually respond well to the colors in my work I admit that I have never been confident about them – I often feel like they happened by accident.

This book – part textbook, part workbook and part self-help book, will be within arms length while I work in the studio. I’m learning how to understand color, find my personal color palette, choose colors for my next project, mix colors that work, play games with color and then put it all together. At my own pace.  In my own time. And you can too.


As an added bonus, Maggio is posting “Weekend Extras” to her blog – more guidance to help you through the exercises.  Don’t be shy, this is your chance to ask questions and a wonderful opportunity to connect directly with the author.

Thank you Maggie and Lindly – I am finally beginning to understand the language of color and I know I will come back to the book for years to come as I slowly develop my personal palette and use it in ways that will make my work sing.

From Elise Winters’ review and interview with Lindly on PAA:

“Color Inspirations has been designed to meet the needs of a wide audience. It should be of interest to newcomers who want to try polymer, as well as people who find color challenging. We wrote this book as well for people who might be interested in working with dyes, paints, even colored pencils. If somebody is interested in the dynamics of color, the science of color mixing, the aesthetic awareness of color choice, this book should provide lots of nourishment and inspiration.” Lindly Haunani

Read Elise Winters’ review and interview with Lindly Haunani on Polymer Art Archive

Maggie Maggio’s website and Weekend Extras

Lindly Haunani’s website

Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio will each present at Synergy2

high5 polymer clay: ancient modern review

We are midway through the week-long series, High5 Polymer Clay.  If you are new to polymer clay – if I’ve piqued your interest and you are ready to explore the medium – be sure to look at some of the books, DVDs and resources listed in the sidebar.

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[private_archives]Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry is a good place to start.  Ronna Sarvas Weltman has written a book that is a safe haven for artists to put perfection aside for a moment, experiment with the two mediums and maybe even draw out your inner jewelry designer in the process.


Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry

Of particular interest to anyone interested in making jewelry are her tips about the mechanics of design – how to make a piece wearable and comfortable.  In addition to the 15 projects in the book, there is a clear, concise Coiling Wire Chart to help you determine how much wire is needed when making uniform coils.

But wait, there is more…


Nightfall in Mozambique, polymer clay, wire

I’ve had the pleasure of watching Ronna grow as an artist over the last three years and getting to know this lovely, generous, upbeat soul has been a special treat for me.  Ronna introduced herself (via email) in the early days of Daily Art Muse, when this blog was known as Polymer Clay Notes.  She was often inspired by the art I posted here and we made a precious connection as we forged ahead on our individual paths.  Some time later, when she told me she was writing a book that would marry polymer clay and wire with her primitive, organic style I knew it would be a hit, and it is – Ancient Modern, released by Interweave Press in June 2009, is already in its second printing.


Why is it so popular?  In Ancient Modern, Ronna makes polymer clay accessible for people who might be intimidated to try it and for those just beginning their exploration of this versatile medium.  She has impeccable taste, a strong eye for design and a bold, organic, joyful sensibility to her style.

I would categorize this as a book for beginners, but I will qualify that by saying it is one of the most sophisticated beginner books I’ve seen. The layout is crisp.  The instructions clear.  The photographs stunning. While the polymer clay techniques are not new to me, Weltman’s application is fresh and beautifully articulated. I have been working with polymer clay for several years and I still found enough in the pages of this book that sparked my imagination to easily recommend it as a valuable resource for intermediate level clayers.


So Much And More, extruded polymer clay, wire

I caught up with Ronna last month and had the opportunity to see many of the pieces from the book. All comfortable, wearable and lightweight. I’m intrigued by the simplicity of the extruded clay bracelet pictured above.  The bracelet was surprisingly flexible when I put it on and I immediately began pondering how I could use this technique in other ways. Once I have a place to work again (soon) I will experiment with a few ideas that are taking form based on what I learned from the book (I’ll post them here – promise!).


Three Ring Circus, polymer clay, wire

Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry offers ideas, tips and inspiration to both beginners and seasoned polymer clay artists – I recommend it as a permanent addition to your library.


Want one?  Click on the link in the sidebar to purchase the book from Amazon.

Ronna Sarvas Weltman’s website

More images of the book on the Interweave Press website

Want to know how to get published?  Weltman will present Get Published! at the February 2010 Synergy2 Conference

book review: no green berries or leaves

Paul Stankard’s autiobiography, No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass, gets off to a slow start but much like the artist’s journey with glass, once it picks up speed it simply flows and the importance of his message becomes as clear as the glass paperweights and sculpture that represent his legacy.

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Stankard lets no obstacle stand in the way of his pursuit of excellence and it shows. He has developed a truly eloquent artistic vocabulary that has resulted in a body of work which can only be described as breathtaking. Considered one of the world’s master glass artists, his work can be found in the collections of more than 35 museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), Museum of Decorative Arts, the Louvre (Paris, France), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England) and National Museum of American Art – The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).

Not bad for a kid whose teachers often told him he was stupid and lazy when he was growing up.


A collection of essays that chronicle Stankard’s journey from struggling student to master glass artist, the book follows his childhood and early career as a scientific glass blower, then takes the reader through his transition and slow, steady climb to master glass artist. He tells the stories that shape the man and grow the artist, including his struggle with dyslexia – how he outwits, navigates and soars beyond the learning disability.

Stankard’s reflections on his long battle with low self-esteem are deeply personal and humble insights that offer a window into our collective psyche – there is a strange comfort here, reading how one of the most recognized, accomplished and important living glass artists of our time reckons with a dark ‘constant companion’ that most of us know intimately.  Unwavering support and love, first from his parents and later from his wife and family, are a steady and reassuring presence, at times carrying the artist and the man through painful periods of self doubt.

Equally as compelling are his views on the long-term value of a focused education and how one achieves excellence in art making –  themes that appear repeatedly include commitment, exposure to great art, practice and perseverance. Published in 2007,  it is not a surprise that No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass has enjoyed great success in the glass world and is now in its second printing.  However, with this printing, artists and educators across all media are embracing the book because they understand the powerful lessons surrounding the important ideas that Stankard is passionate about – ideas that transcend the boundaries of any one medium.  This book is not just for glass artists, but for every person interested in making art, every person interested in making good art, and every person who has, at some time in their life, felt ‘less than.’ Paul Stankard’s words are surely an inspiration, but as you will see when you read No Green Berries or Leaves, it is his actions that are the true gift.

I’ve included a few quotes that resonated with me.  Read the whole book for wisdom, wit and strategies that will provide a lifetime’s worth of guidance for artist’s and students. You can find the book in the sidebar, it is first on my Reading List.

“As a mature artist I now recognize one of life’s greatest ironies – the fact that a disability can give one the strength to compensate for the disability in ways that can, in turn, nourish unique creativity and success.”

” For those who have been told they are different, think of that difference as a blessing and never give up because in the end, perseverance can only enhance one’s creative potential and future.”

“It was profoundly insightful to realize that the creative process is nourished by experimental efforts and that failure…could be so much a part of the creative process.”


“Excellence transcends categories and whether a piece is glass sculpture in the fine arts tradition, a murrini, a marble, a goblet, a paperweight or a bead, if one’s work is personal and is made well, it will be respected by informed art enthusiasts and other artists.”

“By seeing and experiencing great works, I have grown in artistic maturity which has broadened the foundation I stand on. The value and joy of viewing significant objects, especially when they evidence skilled virtuosity, has been to demand more from myself in the studio”

“I believed that by experiencing important work and relating to the quality evidenced by the work, I would grow stronger from the exposure.  I hoped to internalize the values that I recognized in the great works and to recapitulate the same depth of emotion into my own work.”

Lotus Orb with Honeybees

“Society needs artists every bit as much as it needs scientists, teachers, laborers, fathers, mothers and ministers.”

“…art-making is a spiritual quest and is as close to prayer as one can get to glorifying the Almighty.  Being an artist requires dedication and sacrifice as a calling equal to that of the clergy.”



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