Callaghan, Timothy. One Painting a Day: A 6-Week Course in Observational Painting—Creating Extraordinary Paintings from Everyday Experiences. Quarry: Quayside. (One a Day). 2013. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781592538300. pap. $22.99. ART INSTRUCTION
Painter Callaghan challenges readers to complete one painting a day for six weeks. Aspiring artists are encouraged to draw inspiration from the people, places, and objects they encounter every day. The 42 exercises (one per day) are meant to be done in a quick, spontaneous fashion and on a small scale. Chapters are divided among three sections—still life, landscape, and portraiture—and provide many fresh approaches along the way. Successful examples completed by the author and six other artists generously illustrate this guide. VERDICT This course-in-a-book can help the busy hobbyist painter build or re-establish the discipline crucial to any creative practice.
Godfrey-Nicholls, Gaye. Mastering Calligraphy: The Complete Guide to Hand Lettering. Chronicle. 2013. 288p. illus. ISBN 9781452101125. $40. CRAFTS
Modern calligraphy can be seen embellishing everything from framed artwork to wedding invitations. Godfrey-Nicholls, an Australia-based artist, elucidates the art of hand-lettering in this comprehensive work. The majority of the book is devoted to calligraphic hands, or different styles of writing. Each hand includes a brief history, exercises for practicing the basic shapes and strokes, foundational groups of letters arranged by type, and variations on the alphabet. Appropriate supplies are suggested for each hand. Brief sections on illuminating hand-lettered pieces, as well as digital variations on traditional calligraphy, are included, as are profiles of a number of artists who specialize in hand-lettering. VERDICT Hand-lettering is perpetually popular, and scrapbookers and other paper crafters interested in exploring this timeless art will find ample guidance here.
Ray, Aimee & Kathy Sheldon. Aimee Ray’s Sweet & Simple Jewelry. Lark: Sterling. 2013. 131p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454707929. pap. $22.95. CRAFTS
Ray (Doodle Stitching) and Sheldon (Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! Make Stylish Shrink Plastic Jewelry) have curated a collection of fun and quirky jewelry incorporating a number of techniques such as embroidery, needle felting, and basic bead stringing. Most of the projects require only entry-level skills (and entry-level tools), but the results are surprisingly sophisticated, and the standouts are reminiscent of the trendy accessories popular on Etsy (or in funky craft boutiques). VERDICT DIYers with a taste for cute crafts will appreciate this book, and these introductory projects may whet their appetite for more advanced work, especially in embroidery and needle felting.
DO IT YOURSELF
Peart, Darrell. In the Greene & Greene Style: Projects and Details for the Woodworker. Linden. 2013. 114p. illus. ISBN 9781610351805. pap. $24.95. DIY
The Greene brothers were early 20th-century architects who embraced furniture design inspired by the arts and crafts movement, along with some Asian influences also popular at the time. Master woodworker and author Peart, who described the brothers’ stylistic and aesthetic development in Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop, here proposes nine projects based on the Greene & Greene aesthetic. While this volume includes cut lists of needed wood and some large line drawings to illustrate positioning and measurements, there is no handholding here: the book contains neither an index nor a list of required equipment. Most of the instruction is text, with a just a handful of photos showing technique. VERDICT With attention to detail and beautiful craftsmanship, the complex but lovely projects pay homage to the Greene & Greene style. However, because of the lack of basic instructions and project outlines, this title is recommended only to the very advanced and well-equipped woodworker.
Royal Horticulture Society Small Garden Handbook: Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space. Firefly. 2013. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781770851924. $24.95. DIY
Think you can’t have a garden without a big yard? Author and garden designer Wilson (The Book of Plans for Small Gardens) poses some possibilities for small-space gardens. This British import is bursting with beautiful photography and lots of inspiring eye candy. However, as the title suggests, the material is aimed at an English or European audience. Though measurements have been converted, some terms and references have not been. Design elements are well detailed, with case studies to illustrate successful application. Wilson’s advice is similarly excellent—even if we can’t all go to the Chelsea Flower Show as the author recommends. This book covers how to evaluate space and soil and gives examples of various designs, materials, structures, and plants. For better coverage of a specific geographic area, stick with regional gardening guides, such as Sunset magazine’s The New Western Garden Book. For more on small-space gardening, see Dave Egbert and Emily Young’s Big Ideas for Small Gardens. VERDICT While some American garden and landscaping books tend toward the cookie-cutter, the designs shown here represent a wide variety of styles and plants. This excellent title is recommended for gardeners seeking more stylistic options.
Ford, Joan. ScrapTherapy Scraps Plus One! New Patterns To Quilt Through Your Stash with Ease. Taunton. 2013. 200p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600855191. pap. $ 24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
The main idea behind quilt designer Ford’s (ScrapTherapy Cut the Scraps!) popular ScrapTherapy system is that if your fabric scraps are pre-cut into commonly used sizes and organized by color, you’ll be more likely to use them. To give quilters the impetus to tackle their scraps, Ford presents 20 more projects that use squares in the three basic ScrapTherapy sizes (5 inches, 3.5 inches, and 2 inches), along with one added fabric that doesn’t have to be a scrap. Most of the projects in the book are full-size quilts, and Ford proves once again that scrappy quilts don’t have to look like a color explosion. VERDICT Quilters who have overflowing scrap bins may balk at all of the precutting involved (one of the super-scrappy quilts involves 1,072 two-inch squares), but this volume is an excellent choice for quilters of all skill and interest levels.
Dalby, Alison. Design Ideas for Your Home. National Trust. Sept. 2013. 176p. photos. ISBN 9781907892493. $27.95. INTERIOR DESIGN
The National Trust is a UK-based charity that protects and keeps open to the public over 350 historic homes, gardens, and monuments. Here, National Trust senior press officer Dalby visits some of these properties representing period decorating styles from Georgian to modern. Her intent is not to discuss how to replicate faithfully a historic interior but rather to offer readers new decorating ideas for their own homes. In this volume, enhanced by 250-plus color photographs, Dalby demonstrates how readers can use color, patterns, texture, lighting, and decorative accessories to enhance their living spaces. The resources mentioned are predominantly based in the UK. VERDICT This volume provides unique inspiration for interior designers, whether professional or amateur.