Craft Book Review: Polymer Clay 101 by Angela Mabray and Kim Otterbein


I love polymer clay, and have played with it for quite a while. I even teach local classes on occasion. So I look at a book called “Polymer Clay 101″ and I wonder- is it really easy enough for beginners? Will it have anything to offer experienced clayers? After reviewing this book by Angela Mabray (AKA “CraftyGoat”) and Kim Otterbein I can say “yes” to both questions.

First off, let’s talk about the book itself. It’s a hard cover book that features a spiral binding, so that the book will lay completely flat on the worktable. This is a small but oh-so-appreciated touch! I love it when I can open my book up and follow along without having to worry about the book closing up on me and losing my place.

Secondly, there is a DVD included (frankly, I could do a whole review just on that.) Sometimes it’s just so much nicer to SEE what is being explained instead of having to try and decipher it in the text. I found the video to be of high quality- and frankly, Angela’s voice is nice and soothing to listen to. If you are an advanced clayer, you can zoom through the “Basics” portion and head right to projects- but it was really well done and very helpful. I love that it was included!

The book has 192 pages, and includes 21 step-by-step projects, an introduction, a section about basic supplies and techniques, and then a glossery and resource section. The photography is nice, and there are handy “tip bubbles” scattered around the book.  But you know me, I had to dig in and try out some of the projects myself!

First I tried the “Buttons with Embedded Shanks” on page 147. I decided to try this one, because it included a technique I’d never tried: coating fabric with polymer clay. Also, I remembered Angela asking for fabrics while she was writing the book, and it was fun to see some of the fabrics I’d sent her made up into buttons in the book. A good of a reason as any!

I followed the directions- which were very easy to follow- and I came up with three button styles for my efforts. I followed the colors pretty closely, but I didn’t have those pretty jump rings she used in the book- so I improvised with a round paper clip, an oval frame from my scrapbooking stash, and a metal grommet. I’m pretty pleased with them.

Assorted buttons.

More importantly, I felt I had all of the instructions/guidance necessary to complete the project successfully.

Then I went on to the Stamped Key Chain on page 115.

Stamped Key Chain

The instructions on making the Skinner blend and stamping the clay were right on target. However, I had problems with trying to trim away the top layer of clay on the acrylic roller as instructed. I had a hard time holding the roller in one hand and trimming with tissue blade with the other. I abandoned this technique and just laid the clay flat on the table and used two hands to control the blade and was much more successful. However, once I got past this, the directions were clear and I ended up with a few different pieces.

I haven't drilled holes yet- but I like the pattern.

So I really like the style of the book- it’s pretty straight forward: conversational, but not too cutesy, if you know what I mean. And while I am an experienced clayer, I’m looking to try some techniques that are new to me- the t-shirt transfer ATC, for one, and the mica-shift bowl for another. (I’ve done mica shift, but I’ve never made a vessel.)

If you are at all interested in trying polymer clay for the first time, or want to take your knowledge to the next level, this book has a lot to offer.

Disclosure: Sample provided for review


About Jenny

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.


  1. says

    Thanks for the great review, Jenny. I love how all your variations on the buttons turned out (great ideas for improvising the frames!) and your stamped pattern is beautiful, too. And thanks again for sending those pieces of fabric for the book buttons — you were definitely a life-saver!

    So glad you enjoyed the book!

  2. says

    You’re very welcome-and congrats on writing such a clean, concise, well-thought-out primer! I hope to see more books from you in the future. : ) Congrats!


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