Arte Es Vida

The Chameleon Clay by arteesvida
December 22, 2006, 1:03 am
Filed under: Book Reviews, Clay Jewelry

“As you read through this book, you’ll notice a few underlying concepts. These are the basic concepts of creative action. Consider for a moment that all of life is creative action. Art is just the tip of the iceberg.”
–Victoria Hughes–

It has been a long time since I have been really excited about a new book. I almost always glean some new ideas, and learn, if not a new technique, a new twist on an old one. But this book, Polymer: The Chameleon Clay by Victoria Hughes was a rarity in that I found it truly exciting. The book introduces with more than just the normal overview of techniques and materials. Tory Hughes also offers advice and motivation for readers, whether new to the medium or old hands, that reminds me of the warmth and artistic support of Holy Moly Mackeroly: Reflections On The Business of Art and The Art Of Life by Gloria Page, which as many readers know is one of my all time favorites!

The Chameleon Clay focuses on techniques for re-creating the look of expensive natural materials in clay to a beautiful result. Her projects include an ivory brooch, beaded necklaces in polymer coral and turquoise jade ginko leaf necklaces, and many others. Although finely attuned to detail, none of the projects have that you’ve got to be kidding! element of complication. Even if you are new to working with clay, she baby-steps you through each project in a way that is a guarantee of success! One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciated was the actual visuals of the color mixes she uses. Instead of just saying “1 ounce of translucent to one pea sized bit of purple” you actually see pictures of her amounts before the clay is mixed and conditioned. VERY helpful to the numerically challenged.

Although there isn’t an enormous number or projects and recipes, each one is a keeper and a very true duplicate of the material it mimics.

My fight with creating a faux turquoise is legendary. I have made some truly awful versions until I tried the recipe from this book. On my first try I got amazing results! Even allowing for the time to condition and chop clay by hand if you don’t have a dedicated food processor and pasta machine, you can still create a piece for resale for a tenth of the cost of real turquoise.

I have also been playing with her jade recipes (and quickly learning, that it doesn’t translate well to more complicated designs) and I am excited about experimenting with other techniques from the book. Besides the projects in the book, the author assembled a beautiful gallery of work from ten other polymer artists that is truly amazing. This title is definitely a must-have!

About The Author: Tory Hughes is a self supporting artist has been making and selling artwork in polymer clay for more than 30 years. She started her business ArtRanch (formerly known as Art For Life) in 1982. Her development and use of innovative techniques has influenced a generation of polymer clay artists, both through her jewelry and sculptures. Her work is seen in galleries nationwide and in numerous publications across the United States and Canada. She travels nationwide teaching her ArtRanch techniques.

1 Comment so far
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I, too, have followed this amazing woman’s career throughout the years, and been inspired by her–even though I seldom work with polymer clay. Her design sense, her humour, her way of encouraging confidence in the pursuit of an artistic life, are universally applicable. Did you know she’s giving a course at Snow Farm in June?

Comment by carolwiebe

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