Arte Es Vida

Good Night Irene! by arteesvida
December 16, 2006, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Clay Jewelry

Good Night Irene!
A review of two polymer clay books by Irene Semanchuk Dean.>

It must have been karma. I received two Irene Semanchuk Dean books on polymer clay this week. One was from the library, I had apparently requested it awhile back and had forgotten about it. The other came in the form of my hunky UPS guy straight from the publisher.

Irene’s first book, titled “Polymer Clay: 20 Weekend Projects Using New and Exciting Techniques” is part of the Lark Books “Weekend Crafter” series. While many of the projects are for non-jewelry items, the techniques can be applied in many different ways, including jewelry making projects. Her faux slate, faux bronze, and faux jade would also translate well to making beads and pendants. My favorite project of in the book was the Mokume Gane barrette and matching earrings. Her explanation of making Mokume Gane, and the accompanying photos are the best directions I have seen anywhere for the technique. If you have any interest in doing Gane work in polymer clay, this book is worth purchasing just for that section alone.

The other book I received by Irene Dean is a much thicker and more involved text…and it is really fabulous! Entitled “Faux Surfaces in Polymer Clay: 30 Techniques That Imitate Precious Stones, Metals, Wood & More”, the projects include gemstones such as tiger-eye and opal, metals such as Balinese silver and copper verdigris, natural materials such as leather and abalone, and stones such as slate and marble. She also includes a section on surface decorations such as diachronic glass and raku.

As with her first book, many of the projects are for non-jewelry items, but the techniques can be easily applied to creating beads and pendants. I was especially impressed with her recipes for agate (a perfect imitation), leather (in an aged look), copper verdigris, and slate. Out of all her projects, only two did I find less than stellar, the abalone and the raku*. Out of thirty projects that is still a solid “A” grade!

The gallery pages included in the back of the book are solid…I especially loved her own “ancient coins” and dearly wish they had been one of the included projects.

Irene Dean has been working with polymer clay for over ten years. She is a member of the National Polymer Clay Guild and a founding member of the Blue Ridge Polymer Clay Guild. You can find out more about her, and see more of her work on her personal website.

*For a better faux raku, check out syndee holt’s directions for a polymer clay faux raku vase for the DIY network.

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