The Handbook of Metal Clay:
Textures and Forms
by Hadar Jacobson
Published by
Textures Publishing

Spiral bound, 128 pages
Price: $34.95
Reviewed by:
Linda Kaye-Moses

The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms is a mostly successful self-published book on metal clay. The spiral binding makes it very useful as a bench manual. The book is logically formatted, each project introducing techniques built upon previous projects. The author limits the scope of the book by not attempting to investigate “all possible techniques of texturing and forming” – a decision that allows her to cover considerable ground without overwhelming a novice.

The first of its two main chapters, “Texturing”, demonstrates nine projects. The second, “Forming”, includes 13 projects under “Forming with Molds” and nine under “Forming with Flexible Clay”. The concept of altering metal clay with glycerin to produce clay that remains flexible even when dry, the subject of the final chapters, is itself worth the price of the book.

Rather than dwelling on the differing brands and formulas of metal clay that are available, Jacobson includes metal clay thickness measurements for both high-shrinkage and low-shrinkage clay, a simplified and useful method. A beginner, though, might need more information for sorting out the many formulas. The “Took Kit” list is also too sparse and doesn’t illustrate enough of the tools for beginners. The “Index”, though too limited to be an ideal cross-referencing tool, is moderately useful for navigating. A major drawback is the lack of materials and tools lists for each project, requiring one to discover the needed items as they are used.

Other information would be useful, too: for example, the author mentions, “Mirror shine [for finishing a piece] can be achieved using a stick or a felt buff” – but she offers no illustration of this procedure. Regarding the use of liver of sulfur, no mention is made of ventilating – a necessary precaution when patinating with any chemical. Suggesting the use of cloth to hold a piece while polishing with a rotary tool is also an unsafe practice. There is also an occasional awkward use of language, such as “mold” (a hollow form used to give particular shape to a soft substance) for “model” (a pattern or form for imitation), “oxidation” for “patination,” and “engraving” for “scribing.”

Despite its shortcomings, The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms is rich with information, tips, and methodology that make it a useful manual. Any missing information is available elsewhere, but Jacobson’s imaginative projects and solutions to metal clay’s mysteries are available only in this book.

LINDA KAYE-MOSES is a studio jewelry whose work has been featured in numerous periodicals and books, including PMC Decade. She has exhibited and taught nationally and was the Curator/Juror for the seminal 2001 Precious Metal Clay exhibition, “Millennial Metal.”

– Jewelry Artist, August 2008, p. 70.