This book is NOT just another clay book. When I first picked it up for a quick thumb-through, I almost put it down because my first impression was that I had seen it before. But I also noticed that Lisa had a lot to SAY - there was a lot of text so I gave it another, closer, look. Yes, some of the techniques are pretty basic, and, yes, some of them are in other books. But that's where the similarities end.
WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK DIFFERENT?
Well, a couple things. First of all, Lisa goes out of her way to show you how to COMBINE various techniques. Combining techniques is very important in the artistic journey, as that can really set your work apart. But sometimes it's hard to figure out how to do that from a technical standpoint, and Lisa explains it here. Quite a bit, in fact!
The thing about combining techniques is that some of the little tips and tricks need to change in order to make it work. Lisa recognizes that and tells you what little changes need to be made, and how to make them, and why to make them. The techniques, and combinations, are not taught in the context of a specific project which, in my opinion is a good thing, because once you learn how to combine them you are free to apply the knowledge to any project you choose.
Another thing that's a little different about this book is that one can hear Lisa's voice. Like I said before, there's quite a bit of text. For several of the techniques, Lisa describes her first attempts and explains what she started doing differently to get a more satisfactory outcome. From that standpoint, the book is almost a bit of a diary. Plus, it's a reminder that everyone started at the same place - the beginning - and Lisa is no exception!
If you absolutely can only learn by looking at a lot of pictures, you will need a different book to supplement this one, or some on-line tutorials. This book has enough pictures, but it's not overloaded. The pictures are clear, legible, and keyed to the text for step-outs. BUT there are not a TON of pictures - just the critical steps include pictures. You MUST READ THE TEXT to capture the many, many little details, tips, tricks, and cautions, that will help you get a high quality outcome! I, for one, really appreciate teachers who tell me what NOT to do (which Lisa does), and why, rather than letting me mess up and not understand what just happened here!
There are tons of little tips, tricks, cautions, and factoids in this book; you will want to read it with a highlighter and post-it notes handy so you can tag the pages where you have the "enlightened" moments.
Once you have worked your way through the techniques and combinations thereof, there is a section with some projects and variations. You can use those to practice, or use them to inspire you to come up with your own projects for using the techniques.
I enjoyed the section on finishing. There was some new-to-me information - it's not just all about sanding!
The inspiration gallery is refreshing because it's not all the "usual" people who have been represented. The work is all nice and there is great variety. Personally I was glad to see some new artists getting gallery kudos.
One more thing. Lisa has done a great job of NOT using the book as a vehicle for selling her LP-branded clayer toys! They are mentioned, explained, and used where appropriate, but they are not the focus of the book. There are plenty of techniques in the book which do not use any LP-branded toys. Can you do the techniques and projects without buying Lisa's products? Yep. No pressure!
Now, every book needs to have a title. Lots of the obvious ones have been used, so it can't be easy to pick one. Please don't get me wrong - I love the book - but it's not literally the "complete" book. There's no figural sculpting, not a lot of work with inks and paints, for example. That said, no one could ever write the "complete" book because not everything has been discovered yet! For example, there's quite a bit on "faux" techniques, but there are a ton of them that are not represented here. I do NOT find that to be a short-coming; I mention it only because I think it's important to understand that while this may be an important addition to your library, it won't BE the library!
I hope this helps you decide if Lisa's book is a must-have for you.