Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Enchanted Adornments by Cynthia Thornton

I usually don't gush about books. This one had me up reading until my eyes blurred! It's packed with faerie-inspired jewelry crafts using polymer clay, resin, shrinky-dinks and precious metal clay, not to mention found objects, charms, beads, fabric, fibers... They're beautiful, absolutely unique and very well explained. I've already chosen two projects to try out right away-- the "Sculptural Scrimshaw" necklace and the "Woodland Wings" necklace.

To the meat of the review:

  • The projects have a very mythical slant. If you're into the fantasy genre or like organic, slightly odd items, this book will get you drooling.
  • The projects use a variety of materials. I currently can't afford PMC, but when I can, I'll be using this book as solid inspiration.
  • Many of the projects have variations, using slightly different materials for a different final product.
  • Lots of pictures! In color!
  • Plenty of basic information on the materials used, like how to work with polymer clay to keep it clean.
  • An "inspirational gallery" in the back of designs that aren't explained, but are awesome to ogle.
  • A troubleshooting guide in the back to help with crafting snags.
  • Step-by-step instructions on making the "meat" of the project-- say, the focal piece for a necklace-- and then another set for how to string the necklace itself. Most tricky steps also have photos to guide you.
  • Did I mention there's faeries? There's faeries. Each project is accompanied with a beautifully illustrated "journal entry" about the creator meeting a fantastical creature, and drawing inspiration from it. For example: On meeting "Niabi," a deer with a female head: "I drew a picture of her, attempting to capture her grace and lithe form. I sketched the spiraling pattern on her coat, noting the way it resembled ivory inlaid in wood." The project in this case is made from polymer clay colored to resemble ivory inlay on wood.

  • There are a few steps that aren't spelled out. One example is in the Woodland Wings project. You need to glue tissue paper to small wire wings that will later be covered in resin. Alas, it doesn't say what sort of glue to use, or how exactly to apply the glue to the wire, or whether to cover both sides of the wings with it. A seasoned (or bold) crafter will figure it out, but it might deter beginners.
  • The "journal entries" are cute, but some might find them a pointless addition. They also used "+" instead of "and," and while I like it (it gives more the appearance that this is a handwritten journal), some might not.
  • Changes in materials for the variations are not supplied in list form. For those into making an exact replica of what they see, this could cause some frustration.

Seriously? I can't say enough about this book. I don't often find a source of inspiration and technique all wrapped up into one amazing package. The book is well-designed, filled with beauty and will be an amazing addition to any crafter's library. Pick one up-- I did!


The Big Show is done. This show had me so scattered that I'd have lost my mind if it weren't stuck inside my head with all that leftover hot glue. The show-- which was Tribal Renaissance here in Eau Claire-- lasted all day, and included me vending, me teaching, me socializing, me learning, and me performing. There were other people there too, but oddly, I wasn't too concerned about them being overwhelmed. ;P

So needless to say, my brain has been busy going OMG for about a month while I prepped and stressed. Now that it's done, I'm having Craft Apathy. Nothing seems as important as the prep for the show did ("Man, if I can just make another twelve hair clips I'll be good to go... never mind that the gig is tomorrow..."), so I've been sorta wondering aimlessly around my craft room, looking for inspiration. The room needs a good cleaning and reorganizing, especially because there's another Big Show (or rather, Big Series of Shows) coming up-- my troupe is performing at five, count 'em, FIVE weekends in a row at the Renaissance Faire near us (linkage here). This is a Big Deal. We're not only dancing, but also working as street performers. We'll walk around, dance a bit, interact with other actors and with patrons, dance s'more, talk some more, harass the German Inquisitor character, and then eat some stew. All this, and my first (and second, and third) thought is, "What am I going to wear?"

It's valid, I swear. Imagine being outside for two days. Add sunshine, probably rain, improbably but concievably snow (it's Wisconsin, guys), dirt, dust, bugs, sweat from shaking my booty, bits of food I'll invariably drop down my cleavage, beer water I've dumped on my skirt, bits of yarn, twigs, tears of joy when the coffee has brewed and very small rocks. Shake vigorously and wear for five weekends. Mmmm, no. A girl needs (non-stinky, unstained) options.

So my "procrastination list" has new items. Some are totally in the planning stages; others are halfway done. Since I'm the troupe Crafty One (I didn't volunteer, but I can't. Say. No. PLEASE LET ME MAKE YOU STUFF WWWHEEEEEEE!), some of the items are multiples of four. Eeeeep. Tomorrow: Clean the studio! Do laundry! Buy some trim! Then dance. That's right, I am a dancer...