Monday, November 16, 2015

Jean reviews Resin Alchemy, Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Resin Alchemy,
Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists
by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Resin Alchemy, by Susan Lenart Kazmer, remains one of the best books on resin offered. Easy to understand and fascinating to read, it regales you with beauty at every turn. The author was my primary inspiration when I was first learning my way around resin. Time has passed since then, however resin remains a hugely popular medium for all sorts of mixed media and jewelry design. If you want your work to last and look great years from now, learn how to mix and use resin from one of the greats, Susan Lenart Kazmer. As she says, "Here's to creativity without limits!"
The reader is introduced to the diversity of resin at the beginning of this book, within the author's introduction. It is clear that creations using resin can be extremely adaptable as well as keenly beautiful. It is suggested that you keep a notebook for your ideas, and also be on the lookout for found objects. Found objects can become transformed when used in resin pieces. Objects which otherwise would have decayed and disappeared, such as leaves, paper, and rosebuds, for example, can be captured forever in resin. The author has spent years experimenting with resin, and teaching others how to properly use it. If the projects which you see in this book don't inspire you to love resin, nothing will. They are each beautiful expressions as well as demonstrations of how to learn specific techniques.
The introduction contains photos of what you can make which will drive you forward enthusiastically as you begin the learning process.
The book then comprehensively covers the tools and materials needed. This section is very clear and complete. It includes, among other things, the resin itself, organic items you may want to collect, bezels you might need, coloring agents of all sorts (even spices and herbs!), and more. All these items are as beautifully photographed as everything in the book.

The first chapter, titled "Stirred, not Shaken: the art of mixing and pouring resin" is, true to its name, all about how resin is prepared. However it is more than this, because along with this very basic info comes every other thing you could possibly want to know about resin: how to pour, how to use a backless bezel, how to dry, how to cure, and so on. The reader is also treated to some amazing gallery photos of creations using resin. Within this chapter is a great section called Special Effects and another one called Seven Tips for Choosing and Combining Objects. As well there is a section on Amulets and Talismans, Relics and Prayer Boxes. The reader is helped to learn how to find her voice with the assistance of this chapter. It is a book in itself! Projects from further on in Resin Alchemy are also shown with the intent to illustrate these basics. At the end of this chapter, are two complete projects: a Bezel with Interior Cracking, and a Bezel with Engraving. You will be ready for them, and they are stunning.
Chapter 2 is titled, "Make Mine Metal!, basic metalworking techniques for resin jewelry design". As the author explains, her art background began with metal work, and therefore she has the belief that "resin is made more important and substantial with the addition of metal". The reader will learn how to add eyelets, rivets, and how to make a dapped sheet-metal bezel. You learn how to cold-join attach with resin, and you are shown some wire and resin combinations which are mindblowing. You learn how to make these delicate yet permanent freeform wire creations. The project offered following this is a magnificent Scrolled Prayer Box. What idea would you place in yours? The author prompts the reader by asking this question, then goes on to discuss the techniques which apply to this project. 
Chapter 3 is called "Curb Your Enthusiams: creating simple bezel forms for resin". It discusses found objects which may be turned into bezels, and wire bezels. It gives the lovers of mixed-media tips on building mixed-media resin collages. The project offered, "Decorative-Wire Bezel" is lovely and can be varied and changed up in all sorts of ways. The following project, "Heart Wire Bezel" will capture your heart. As the author says, "The hearts I make are a bit shaky and dilapidated but, I assure you, this quality is intentional". If you are anything like me, this is one of the first projects you'll want to try. This chapter has another project, the "Shaker-Box Bezel". It is as pretty and mysterious as the others, with glints, perhaps, either of sand from a special beach, or of last New Year's Eve confetti loosely contained by resin coated paper within the bezel. You choose your bezel, and you choose what to put into it. The author provides the ample inspiration along with the techniques you will need.
Chapter 4 is "Why I Love Organics: freestanding resin-coated forms". The author explores the transformational properties of resin when it comes into contact with items like leaves, or pieces of paper. When saturated into the fibers, it alters and preserves in a magical way. This is a chapter not to be missed. Feathers, twigs, natural flowers, petals, leaves, anything organic from nature can be experimented with and then made into jewelry. The author explains how to prepare the chosen flowers or whatever you are using, before they are coated with resin. You are shown all sorts of things which have been made into objects of beauty. One of my favorites is her eggshell piece. The wonder of her designs is so evident in everything the author does.  As is true with the entire book, proper safety measures are explained. Resin Hollow Forms are found in this chapter, and they are delightful. The author leads the way as she suggests to the reader ideas for making hollow forms into "small worlds", which might contain "glitter, shredded dollar bills, and tiny 'secret' notes". Heat transfers and layering images are covered in this chapter, among other things. One fabulous project is "Resin-coated Rosebuds". It will knock you flat, with its combination of pink and violet crystal, a twig bar coiling around and capturing the word "sometimes", and natural rosebuds in pale pink set into a riveted bezel. It is like a fairy tale all grown up. Another project, just as exquisite, is called "Resin-coated Paper Leaves". This is a bracelet of oval leaf shapes in different sizes, made of half-hard wire and resin coated paper. It is irresistible in the colors of blacks, browns and beiges along with the see-through lettering of the resin-coated paper.
The eggshell mentioned previously is also offered as a project, in "Eggshell Prayer Box". So striking and memorable. This jewelry begs to be made by you and translated into your own personal experiences.
The final project in this chapter is the charming "Resin-coated Stacked Paper Ring". It is charming and colorful. If flipped upside down, it becomes a tassel. You will love it.
Chapter 5 is titled "Formfitting Designs: casting resin". The reader will learn all about molds in this chapter. You will have a ball making your own molds. Included is a technique for making Resin Druzy Stones. They look gorgeous set into simply pronged metal art rings.
Chapter 6 covers the "Cool & Colorful: cold enameling and surface treatments". With no flame involved (except for a heat gun), resin becomes the sealant. Lots of techniques are offered here, including crackle and plique-a-jour enameling. The reader learns to work with cold enamel powder as well as cloisonné and mica powder. All these cold-enameling techniques are made possible by employing resin, and the author shows you exactly how to do it. There is again a fantastic project: "Cold-Enamel Head Pins". These head pins have a ton of potential for enhancing your own designs. 
The final chapter has you covered with "No Mistakes: finishes + fixes". It is a discussion of what can be done to complete your work. The reader will learn to add the final finishing touches to his or her creations with resin. The chapter ranges right from start to the finish. When you read this chapter, you understand what dedication the author has to her students and to her subject. 
In summing up, she urges you to "be intrepid" in your explorations with resin. 

With Resin Alchemy, Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists at your side you will find that almost anything is possible if you understand the basics. This book will enable you to be fearless when creating beauty with resin. It is a classic in the jewelry design world. If you love resin, this book is for you!

Interweave/F+W; $24.95


Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

I have Susan's Exploring Resin Jewelry-Making DVD and love it. This book goes on my Christmas wish list. You mentioned so many things that I've been wanting to try with resin in this book. Very thorough review - as always ;-)

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Eileen, join Cyndi's giveaway! I hope you win! :)