Book Review: Marie Segal’s “The Polymer Clay Artist’s Guide: A Directory of Mixes, Colors, Textures, Faux Finishes, and Surface Effects

Posted on October 30, 2013 in Product Reviews by Katie Oskin

Polymer Clay Book Review

Marie Segal's The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide Book Review by KatersAcres

It’s time for another great polymer clay book review! I have done many book reviews (mostly of Christi Friesen’s books because of the Friesen Project) and I have yet to do a negative book review.  Don’t get excited, this is NOT going to be a negative review! But maybe day I will find the courage to write on one of my books that doesn’t live up to what I want it to. But I feel bad putting people’s hard work down … so we’ll leave that dilemma for another day.

What I Was Expecting

For those of you who are polymer jewelry artists, I apologize in advance for this next sentence. Books on polymer jewelry do nothing for me. I do not like jewelry, even polymer. This doesn’t mean that I don’t own it, I do. I have some lovely pieces of polymer jewelry I’ve purchased from very accomplished artists … but I don’t wear jewelry. I wear my wedding ring, diamond earrings my brother bought me, and a ring my parents bought me on my Ordination Day. That’s it. End of story. It takes a lot for me to wear jewelry. I have to be getting “dressed up.” Which for me means Sundays because I’m usually a jeans & T-shirts kind of girl. So as a general rule of thumb, I do not buy polymer clay books on jewelry, making jewelry, etc. I’m a sculptor, not a jewelry designer.

End of bunny-trail.

I was expecting this book to be filled with more of the same-old jewelry techniques that so many of my other polymer books have covered. I expected to see a whole lot of what I already knew. I expected to be bored. I expected this book to be mundane. I expected … well, not a whole lot. In fact, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the polymer community was cooing about. So … I had to find out for myself.  It’s not that I was against this book, I just like adding books that I know I will use or refer to often.  I didn’t buy this one for so long because of my expectations. Which, I might add, were completely WRONG!

Why I Was “Wowed!”

Marie Segal's The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide Book Review by KatersAcresAs I have stated before, I hesitated getting this book because I hate being disappointed. So hesitantly after it arrived in 2 days from Amazon, I sat down with a cup of coffee to read it. And then it happened … I. Was. Mesmerized! Even as you open the book, the beautiful handmade jewelry designs just scream “wow!” (See picture at left).

I will state that this book does the typical “Here’s what polymer clay is, here’s how you use it, where it’s available, supplies you’ll need, etc.” This is standard in most polymer clay books anymore. I will honestly say that there was nothing new to me in this section. Keep in mind that I have been claying for almost 6 years now and have a huge library of polymer clay books and have a pretty decent knowledge of all things clay. This being said, to a beginner or novice, there are lots of helpful tips and information here.

About page 25 you get into the “effects” that the book is touted for … from inclusions, additives, texturing effects, printing effects, ink effects, basic caning & stacking techniques, patterns, motifs, mosaic, pave, & even embellishments. Marie has taken great care to leave nothing out. She has explored each technique in a variety of ways. Some that will appeal to mixed media artists, some to jewelry makers, and even some effects that sculptors (like myself) can use.

Overall Review

Marie Segal's The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide Book Review by KatersAcres

I love the way that Marie has taken one effect and used it multiple ways. She gives pictures at the end of each “skill / technique” and shows what she (or another artist) did with it. Then she tells you the basic steps in how it was achieved and where to find it in that chapter. WOW! The page shown above at right is an example of this. I love that she took the extra time to do this. She could have explained each technique, showed one picture, and then been done with it. But not Marie, nope. She went above and beyond! Thank you Marie for taking the time to do this.

75% of all polymer artists need this book!

If you are a jewelry artist, you need this book. If you love to add surface effects to clay you need this book.

If you are a sculptor however, you could pass on this book. Why? Because most of the techniques that you would use in your sculpting have been published before and you probably already have in your library. This being said, the color palettes and designs could be just enough to inspire a whole new creation for you. Even though I am not a jewelry artist, there is something about techniques that I just always have to try them! I rarely will incorporate them into my designs however.  But when it comes to creating non-sculptural work like box lids, carmex toppers, twinchies, or more … this will be fun! The best part is that at the end of each section, Marie has included an “Artists at Work” page where well known (and perhaps new to you) artists are featured.

My Personal Opinions

Marie Segal's The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide Book Review by KatersAcresHere’s a secret about me: I. Love. Books. I have a Kindle & I read daily. The truth is that I have more books than any 4 people need. My studio is also replete with polymer books printed in black and white that go back into the 80’s (boring to read but with great designs) to brand new books, like this one. I love them. It’s a sickness really … ask my hubby. About twice a month I get some new polymer book or other book delivered straight to my door from Amazon. I love it! It’s like a new present every couple of weeks. However, in my love & lust after a good polymer clay book, I have a couple that I think, “if I would have known this I would not have purchased it.” Some of them just lack skill or experience and that comes through in the book. Some of them have been published horribly. And yet others … I can’t put my finger on it, there’s just something … missing.

My favorite polymer clay book has yet to be beat. In fact it’s loved, used, and referred to so much, I broke the binding and am on my second copy. (Get that book here & read the review here) This book however, I am sure will become a favorite and well used book! The extra special bonus is that this book is hardback, which is awesome because it means that I can’t ruin it and have my pages falling out all over the place. Yippy! Again, thanks Marie!


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Thanks for joining me today,

Happy Claying,

All links in this article for the polymer clay book review above are direct to Amazon where I am an affiliate.
3 Comments for this entry
January 31, 2014

I stumbled across this review, navigating your website, and glad I did!

I have been wondering about this book, knowing Marie Segal is a wonderful artist and author, but I don’t make, nor wear, jewelry…

BUT the techniques can also be used to cover boxes and such. Time for me to look into getting it 🙂

November 10, 2013

Thank you for the reviews! Curious, you mentioned your parents giving you a jewelry gift on your Ordination Day. Can you tell me what does Ordination Day mean in your context? I have only heard it used when someone is being ordained as a Pastor/Priest. Thank you very much!

November 11, 2013

Hi Katy,

You are correct in what you asked about Ordination. My profession is as an Ordained Minister in the American Baptist Churches. I moonlight as a polymer clay artist (job #2)…. Thanks for asking!


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