SOLDERING BEYOND THE BASICS By Joe Silvera, Kalmbach Books, 2014.
I always tell my metal clay students that adding basic soldering to their repertoire can add versatility to their work. Until I took a class on production soldering with Joe Silvera, however, I didn’t realize just how many possibilities there were for more advanced soldering techniques to enhance my metal clay practice. Not everyone has such a skilled teacher available. Luckily, anyone with basic soldering experience and access to a torch can use Silvera’s new book to ramp up their skills.
Section one is full of information about tools, including types of torches and how to set them up and adjust them. It gives in-depth descriptions of materials such as flux and solder as well as some basic stone-setting directions. The author understands the limitations of home studios and his section on setting up a studio is down-to-earth and practical, with an emphasis on safety. Throughout the book Silvera suggests nontoxic products whenever possible. All the projects can be completed with the reader’s choice of a butane torch or a small tank torch system. Continue reading…
HOWTO MAKE SILVER CHARMS FROM METAL CLAY
By Sue Heaser, Apple Press, 2013.
I always look forward to a new metal clay book from Sue Heaser, but I must admit I had my doubts as to whether the subject of making charms could support an entire tome. It can. In How to Make Silver Charms from Metal Clay, Heaser gives a superb mini course in metal clay techniques through the medium of charms.
Fifty projects, each with several variations, encompass a wide variety of designs, from tiny books to animals. Techniques used include everything from rolling and cutting clay to molding, sculpting, using resin and coloring the finished product in several ways. I particularly liked Heaser’s techniques for sculpting polymer clay originals then molding them for use with silver clay. For hesitant sculptors, this method avoids the worry of silver clay drying out while working, and it allows for multiples to be molded easily. Each project gives both an exploded diagram and an actual size image of the tiny finished piece. The book also includes a number of ideas on ways to use the finished charms and some simple ways to make bracelets from chain and cord.
Although the subtitle says the book includes instructions for all skill levels, most of the projects are for beginners or early intermediate metal clayers. Teachers will find it a solid resource for introducing metal clay techniques using small amounts of silver clay, while Heaser’s excellent description of techniques will let do-it-yourselfers progress easily. Some of the easier projects make good projects for parties. All in all, this is a truly “charming” book!
METAL CLAY 101 FOR BEADERS
by Kristal Wick, Lark Jewelry and Beading, 2013.
Kristal Wick is a beader who loves metal clay, and this book is her ode to combining the two. Some of the 23 proj- ects emphasize the beading, some the metal clay, but the majority are an integrated balance of the two media. Metal leaves are sewn into a peyote cuff; a silver and resin flower is both toggle and focal element for a tubular herringbone weave lariat.
The techniques section of Metal Clay 101 for Beaders includes metal clay basics, bead stringing tips and bead stitches. While the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, there is a clear expectation that readers are coming from a beading background. In keeping with the emphasis on beading, most of the metal clay projects are basic “roll, texture and cut” designs, sometimes with stacked pieces adhered with paste—or even epoxy—for dimension. I didn’t understand the use of epoxy in several of the pieces when the sections could have been adhered with traditional metal clay techniques. More experienced metal clay artists who are using this book for inspiration may prefer to use more traditional metal clay methods to achieve the looks.
If you’re a beader who wants to incorporate your own findings, focals and accents to your work, you’ll find a wealth of ideas in Wick’s work. Artists who are already familiar with metal clay can find inspiration to accent their work with beading techniques. Everyone will draw inspiration from the lovely gallery of work from well-known metal clay artists such as Jackie Truty and Lorena Angulo.
SILVER CLAY WITH STYLE
By Natalia Colman, Search Press, 2013.
If you enjoy incorporating a variety of jewelry making techniques in your jewelry, then you’ll want to browse through Silver Clay with Style. This book, originally published in the UK in 2011, has 22 silver clay jewelry projects, many of which incorporate techniques such as beading, textiles, wire wrapping and polymer clay. I especially loved her fabric cuff bracelet.
Colman’s designs are clean and modern. She includes four designs for men’s jewelry (although women may find them appealing, too.) The book starts with a solid techniques section which includes a particularly good description of how to achieve a mirror finish. Instructions are clear and extensively illustrated. My favorite section, however, is Colman’s one page chapter on design. Her explanation of deconstructing a frog in order to create a design is a wonderful teaching moment.
This book for advanced beginner to intermediate metal clay artists can inspire the reader to use Colman’s concepts to move into creating original designs.
Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry by Kate McKinnon Interweave, 2010
Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore to pick up Kate McKinnon’s newest book. With its focus on a professional understanding of fine silver metal clay, a careful consideration of studio safety, and a thoughtful approach to jewelry construction, Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry has something to offer nearly every student of metal clay. McKinnon has long been an advocate of building metal clay jewelry in ways that make the strongest jewelry possible. When I read her first, self-published book about metal clay, it changed the way I worked. In this book, the author continues to teach methods that are not always standard, but which should be in the repertoire of all serious metal clay artists.
The ten beautifully conceived and executed projects are merely a dessert to the main course of techniques, tips, and what McKinnon calls “elements”. These elements are the building blocks of the projects. Some, such as drawing a bead or making a toggle clasp, will be familiar to many jewelry artists. Other elements, such as those which suggest forging pieces after firing will interest even more advanced readers.
McKinnon has strong feelings about the best ways to work safely and professionally with metal clay, and she is always concerned with structural soundness. These themes run though the directions for all the elements and projects. McKinnon explains the reasons for her preferred methods which are based on her long study of metal clay and traditional metal work. In order to get the most from the book, it’s important to read through all the introductory information—don’t just skip to the projects. Fortunately, the writing is so personable that it is a joy to read.
As an added bonus, the book comes with a DVD of McKinnon demonstrating most of the book’s projects and basic information. The DVD is the next best thing to having a class with McKinnon in person, and it alone is practically worth the price of the book.
Pat Evans (a.k.a. The Tool Diva) keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA. She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC Certifications. Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools.) You can find Pat online through her website: http://patevansdesigns.com/
Lisa Barth, Designing from the Stone: Design Techniques for Bezel Setting in Metal Clay Using the Stone as Inspiration (Author, 2011)
It’s hard not to gush about Lisa Barth’s book on designing bezel settings for stone cabochons. In a straightforward, conversational tone, Barth takes her readers from a survey of basic design tenets to how to apply those tenets while designing settings around the characteristics of an individual stone. Her teaching is so clear and thorough that one of my students who had never before set a bail in her short metal clay career was able to produce a stunning pendant and pair of earrings just by following the instructions in this book. Although I’ve been using bezel settings for years, I feel that Designing from the Stone has helped me take a big leap forward in thinking about my work. Continue reading…