Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Review - Metal Clay Animal Jewellery by Natalia Colman

Metal Clay Animal Jewellery 20 Striking Projects in Silver, Copper and Bronze 
by Natalia Colman
Published by Search Press 2015
176 pages


First Impressions 

This book deals with, as the title says, animal jewellery. Now, I can;t deny, this did make me hesitate. Animal jewellery isn't really my thing either to wear or to make; I tend towards hearts and leaves and geometric shapes. And the cover didn't inspire me in that respect either, as I wasn't taken by the main image of the coloured parrot (although the smaller image of the silver urchin ring did intrigue). But the fact the book covered silver, copper and bronze clay interested me and when I flicked through the book I was far more intrigued, not just by the wide range of types of animal and styles of jewellery, but at the depth of the techniques covered and the realisation that animal jewellery may not be so corny after all.

As I've also read (and reviewed) another book by the same author and was impressed by that, it made sense to give this one a try as well.

At the Start

After an introduction, the first section of the deals extensively with the properties of the different clays themselves and covers four pages; two on silver, and two on copper and bronze. This is followed by six pages on basic equipment and a great couple of pages entitled 'Turning your clay into jewellery'. The Techniques section is extensive and as comprehensive as it really needs to be for dealing with three different types of metal clay

In the Middle

The categories of jewellery range from the usual rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Interspersed amongst the individual project instructions are yet more techniques particular to specific designs; these include setting stones and using crystals, applying gold leaf, making moulds and, my favourite, combining different metal clays in one piece.

The animal subjects range from cats and dogs to elephants and swans, sea life and butterflies, with a unicorn and dragon for good measure. My particular favourite was the swallow ring, detailed in the way that metal clay can be, and very effective.

The number of pages devoted to each project varies depending on how simple or complex it is, and I liked this approach of providing what it needed rather than a set amount of pages regardless of the difficulty of the particular piece.

At the End

At the back of the book several pages are devoted to a glossary, an index and some template patterns. Also included is information on firing times for each project (which also disappointed me a little by highlighting the fact that most of the items in the book need a kiln rather than a torch to be fired).

Also included is the results of experiments into which natural gemstones and what colours in cubic zirconia survived being kiln or torch fired. Similar information also features at the back of the other Natalia Colman book that I've reviewed, Metal Clay Jewellery.

In Summary

If you're interested in ideas about making animal jewellery in metal clay then this book is a must have. The project instructions are helpful and the photos that accompany them are clear and detailed. And if, like me, you're open to being persuaded by animal jewellery then this book has a lot to offer.

It might be worth finding a copy to leaf through before buying however, if you're not sure, like I was, that this is your thing - it really is just animals. Whilst that is undeniably a niche part of jewellery making, it certainly doesn't negate the excellent instructions and ideas the book contains and if you work in metal clays and are looking to expand your repertoire then you may well find some inspiration here.


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