Monthly Archives: February 2007

Book Review: Polymer Pizzazz: 27 Great Polymer Clay Projects

5 Stars Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Buy from AmazonBuy Polymer Pizzaz at Amazon.com

Polymer Pizzaz is a new publication from Bead & Button magazine that compiles 27 (not 25 as the picture posted on Amazon shows) projects that were published throughout the years in Beat & Button magazine. For those of you who are long-time subscribers of the magazine, you already have these projects in your back issues and can easily access them from your collection. However, those who don’t have access to these back issues are lucky to have this compilation of excellent projects from superb artists.

If you’re familiar with Bead & Button magazine, you know that the articles are well written, the project instructions are highly detailed, and the photography is professional and beautiful. The wonderful thing about this book is that even though some of the articles may be older, the unique techniques detailed in the projects and resulting pieces of jewelry are timeless. For instance, Mike Buesseler has moved on from polymer clay to other arts, but his impact on the creation of metallic Skinner blends and his locket construction live on.

The book’s projects are placed into four categories: Beads, Canes and Chains, Pendants and Faux Techniques. Each of the categories has four to nine projects created by nationally recognized polymer clay artists including Donna Kato, Nan Roche, Sarah Shriver, ChristieFriesen, Deborah Anderson, Grant Diffendaffer, Patricia Kimle, Dotty McMillan and Karen and Ann Mitchell. There is a brief introduction to clays, tools and techniques in the front of the book, but it’s clear that this book focuses on projects for intermediate clayers–not for novices. However, the projects are infinitely approachable and the results are achievable. I took Dotty McMillan’s “Painterly Polymer” painted lentil bead and combined it with Mike Buesseler’s locket construction techniques to create a lovely locket. I still have wonderful left-over painted polymer for use with another project thanks to Dotty’s clear instructions and really simple but effective technique.

Polymer Clay Locket

I am going on vacation soon, and I think I’ll bring this book with me for inspiration. Every time I look at it, I see more that I can apply to my own work–and that’s one of my hallmarks for a great polymer clay book!

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Product Review: Atlas Pasta Drive Motor

Pasta Drive

Four Stars Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

After several years as a slave of my hand-cranked

pasta machine (and sufferer of sore shoulders), I decided to get a pasta machine motor. A Christmas gift certificate helped make the purchase a much easier decision, but I felt that with all the claying I do, it would be worth the investment regardless of the cost.

I researched prices and found that Polymer Clay Express had the most reasonable deal ($80, as opposed to around $100 on other sites), so I placed my order for my Pasta Drive along with a nifty little accessory–a foot pedal ($18) similar to a sewing machine pedal. I’d be able to turn the machine on and off without using my hands–a nice feature when you’re working with a large or long piece of clay.

I receved the motor in good order. However, I found out that the older Atlas machine that I have didn’t have the requisite holes drilled around the crank case to attach the motor! Fortunately, I had another machine that had the drilled plate, so I did a little switcheroo and had a machine ready to motorize.

The machine has a crank shaft similar to the end of the crank handle plus two little catch bolts that secure and hold the motor to the machine. Ten seconds of fiddling and fitting (well, ten minutes and ten seconds, if you add the time it took to find and replace the plate), and I had a motor ready to go. I plugged it into my foot pedal, set my rollers on a #1 setting and I was ready to go. I had some clay flattened to get through the rollers–I know that if you put in too much clay at a time, you can really stress the engine–and I pressed down on the pedal to get the motor running.

WOW! LOUD LOUD LOUD! The motor is extremely loud. Almost ear-plug loud. I put the slab of clay through the machine, and the machine got louder and a bit slower until the clay was through. I folded and put the clay through again and went through normal conditioning, lickety-split. It was really nice to condition the clay in this manner, but I have to say that the noise could and will get very irritating in a short amount of time. However, the good thing about a foot pedal is that you don’t have to have the machine constantly on. You can turn it off and on easily and have your hands free at all times.

I took my slab of clay through the various settings of the pasta machine and found the performance of the motor to be just fine. However, I began to smell a bit of burning, and I immediately stopped the machine.

The nice thing about the polymer clay community is that there are a lot of people willing to help you with questions or problems. In order to find out what’s normal with this motor, I went to the Polymer Clay People Yahoo Group and asked people what was normal regarding noise, the burning smell and longevity of the motor. In no time at all, I had my answer:

- Yes, the noise level is normal. The slowing of the motor as it’s working is normal. Just don’t try to cram a bunch of clay through the machine; you should only put a sheet through that’s double or 3x the thickness of the setting at MOST.

- Yes, the burning smell is normal. Sometimes the motor burns off some of the oil used to lubricate the motor during manufacturing. The burning smell will subside.

- Yes, the motor lasts for a long time. People have quoted years of use with no end in sight.

These key pieces of information made me much more comfortable with my purchase. As we all know, when we’re unfamiliar with something, it’s always nice to hear that others have had the same experiences and the experiences are normal. That’s one of the reasons I’ve started this blog.

So, the Pasta Drive gets 4 stars out of 5. The noise kicked it down a notch. :-) I’m looking forward to less soreness in my shoulders and many more days of clay.

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