HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York
Mirtalipova, Dinara. Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art. Rock Point: Quarto. Feb. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781631062353. $19.99. ART INSTRUCTION
This guide offers folk designs that are an appealing combination of traditional and modern imagery. Self-taught professional designer Mirtalipova grew up in Uzbekistan, and her interpretation of the Ukrainian, Russian, and Uzbek folk art of her childhood is presented here in the form of a whimsical forest. Flowers, plants, insects, birds, people, houses, myths, and fairy tales are the motifs of the simple exercises. There are also chapters on decorative elements, lettering, and related projects. Many exercises include a brief mention of the symbolism behind the theme or the author’s memories of her mother’s or grandmother’s use of similar representations. VERDICT People of all artistic skill levels can enjoy this guide, and parents, especially, may want to try the projects with their children.
Velásquez, Deborah. Drawing in Black & White: Creative Exercises, Art Techniques, and Explorations in Positive and Negative Design. Quarry: Quarto. Dec. 2016. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781631592805. pap. $22.99. ART INSTRUCTION
While confined to only two colors, black and white, this guide’s techniques, materials, and tools are not nearly so limited. The 36 exercises provided by artist and blogger Velásquez prompt drawings that use all sorts of pens, markers, pencils, brushes, black-and-white inks, paints, knives, colored papers, collage, stitching, and block printing. The projects are brief and structured like recipes, with a materials list and short procedural instructions meant to be jumping-off points. Numerous intriguing examples of completed exercises are included, and a gallery at the end of the book presents further examples of monochromatic illustrations. VERDICT Readers with some experience drawing and painting are the best audience for this guide, but there is plenty here for beginners and advanced artists, too.
NANETTE DONOHUE, Champaign P.L., IL
Anton, Christina. Creative Leather Jewelry: 21 Stylish Projects That Make a Statement. Lark Crafts: Sterling. Nov. 2016. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454709503. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS
Jewelry designer Anton brings her architecture background to leatherwork in this collection of projects featuring cutouts, geometric shapes, and tassels made from brightly dyed leather. The overview of leatherwork basics is straightforward, and only a couple of specialized tools are required to complete the designs that include earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Cutting templates and step-by-step directions for assembling each piece are provided. Brightly colored beads and feathers add further flair to the designs. The aesthetic is best described as “80s in a good way”—all the neon and none of the shoulder pads—but the designs could easily be adapted for quieter tastes by using different colors of leather. VERDICT Jewelrymakers interested in incorporating leather into their crafting will find exciting inspiration and an abundance of style in this collection.
Chan, Jenny W. & others. Creative Origami and Beyond: Inspiring Tips, Techniques, and Projects for Transforming Paper into Folded Works of Art. Walter Foster: Quarto. Nov. 2016. 160p. illus. ISBN 9781633221642. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633223448. CRAFTS
This basics-and-beyond guide to origami provides an overview of popular and innovative techniques, along with a summary of tools, supplies, and basic origami folds and bases. Each author features a series of projects tailored to their area of expertise—Chan provides instructions for basic traditional origami; Paul Frasco introduces wet-folding techniques, which use water as a tool in the creative process; Coco Sato’s modern pieces incorporate paper cutting and tiny LED lights; and Stacie Tamaki specializes in miniature origami. Several sheets of glossy, single-sided patterned paper are bound into the back of the book. VERDICT The basics are very basic, and the advanced beginner/intermediate topics are interesting but specific, making this book best for folders interested in trying a variety of techniques. Beginners may prefer LaFosse & Alexander’s Essential Book of Origami.
KAREN ELLIS, Taylor P.L., TX
Fine Woodworking Eds. Joinery. Taunton. Nov. 2016. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631864483. pap. $24.95. DIY
It’s the attention to details that makes the difference between a beginner’s project and a finely crafted piece of woodworking. This title addresses the best techniques for wood joinery, complete with designs for jigs to make the process easier. From miter joints to mortise and tenon to dovetails, each process is well illustrated with superior instruction. Additional information on cutting and use of power tools for joinery is included. It’s an excellent manual for the intermediate to advanced craftsman, with a focus on technique rather than projects. Great tips concerning joint strength and troubleshooting are equally valuable. VERDICT Highly recommended for any serious woodworker.
Weekend Woodworking. Guild of Master Craftsman. Nov. 2016. 136p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784942434. pap. $19.95. DIY
This collection contains 31 projects that range from simple to complex, spanning items for the home to toys. Classic pieces such as stools and cutting boards are easy jobs, but some of these projects show their British origin, such as the toast rack. The projects are well organized, with accompanying step-by-step illustrations. Readers who want to try them will need a well-equipped workshop and experience. Other quick and easy woodworking project books such as I Can Do That! Woodworking Projects by the editors of Popular Woodworking have more appeal. VERDICT Recommended only where variety is needed. While the projects are extremely doable, they are bit bland with no consistent style.
NANETTE DONOHUE, Champaign P.L., IL
André, Marie-Line. Mandalas & Doilies To Crochet: Delightful Designs To Brighten Your Life. Trafalgar Square. Oct. 2016. 96p. illus. ISBN 9781570767890. pap. $18.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Crocheted doilies bring to mind the fussy white cotton pieces most commonly seen lurking beneath knick-knacks on side tables and covering the backs of uncomfortable chairs. French crocheter André trades the white cotton for bright colors, drawing inspiration from both traditional doilies and the repetitive patterns found in mandalas for these modern pieces, which can be used for a variety of decorative purposes. Beautifully styled photos show the doilies mounted in embroidery hoops as decor, made in miniature for earrings and in large size as rugs, and sewn together as a bag. Each pattern includes a difficulty level (simple to expert), as well as written and charted instructions. Both general and project-related finishing steps are provided. VERDICT Crocheters who delight in the idea of doilies but not the fuss will enjoy these colorful, contemporary designs.
Bryan, Rebecca. Modern Triangle Quilts: 70 Graphic Triangle Blocks; 11 Bold Samplers. Stash: C&T. Jan. 2017. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781617453137. pap. $27.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Bryan (Modern Rainbow) explores triangular blocks in this modern-quilting collection. Upon first glance, quilters may assume that these blocks involve complicated techniques, such as partial seams or Y-seams, but Bryan uses clever piecing and trimming to create her blocks, which include equilateral, isoceles, and right triangles. Extensive use of solids in a bold color palette enhances the graphic look and adds visual interest. Quilters can mix and match the blocks as they choose, or use one of the provided sampler layouts. VERDICT Quilters should be ready for an aha! moment when they realize that piecing and trimming are the only skills required to make these intricate-looking triangular blocks.
Tirico, Deborah Gale. A New Dimension in Wool Appliqué: Baltimore Album Style; Visual Guide; Unique Embroidery. C&T. Dec. 2016. 96p. illus. ISBN . pap. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Tirico (Gorgeous Wool Appliqué) combines wool appliqué with Baltimore Album motifs in this collection of small projects, which include pillows, rugs, and sewing accessories. The thickness of the felted wool, combined with clever layering, adds dimension to the pieces, and the finished appliqué is embellished with a variety of embroidery stitches. Though Tirico provides ample instruction via a chapter on techniques and a few of the projects are beginner-friendly, most require confidence in both appliqué and embroidery. A pull-out sheet featuring full-size patterns for use as placement guides is included, as are traceable templates for the pattern pieces with each project. VERDICT Baltimore Album designs are iconic in the quilting world, and Tirico’s interpretation of these classic arrangements will wow appliqué fans.