Crafts & DIY Reviews, December 2011


Harkins, Michael. Basics Typography. Vol 2: Using Type. AVA, dist. by Ingram. 2011. 184p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9782940411559. pap. $34.50. ART INSTRUCTION
Beginning with an expansive definition of the term typography and continuing with a discussion of the history of printed letters and an explanation of technical processes, this well-organized book is basic yet thorough. Harkins (graphic design, Univ. of Portsmouth, UK) offers exercises to sharpen the reader’s awareness of typographic issues. Many creative disciplines involve typography; web developers, graphic designers, game developers, and filmmakers all must use it in their work. A solid understanding of it can even improve a mundane business letter or blog post. Harkins’s guide has wide appeal, but it will be especially helpful to beginner and intermediate design students.

Hutchison, Edward. Drawing for Landscape Architecture: Sketch to Screen to Site. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. 240p. illus. ISBN 9780500342718. $65. ART INSTRUCTION
Hutchison, a professional landscape architect in London, makes a strong case here for sketching by hand as the first step in any designer’s process. He believes that sketching on site directly engages a designer’s mind in a way that snapping a few photos does not. He presents his wide-ranging discussion of drawing over the course of nine sumptuously illustrated chapters. There are no exercises or projects included for the reader to try, as this book is meant to be more of an inspiration than a guide. Aimed primarily at professional garden designers and landscape architects, this will also be helpful to other designers and home buyers.

Neel, John. Rethinking Digital Photography: Making & Using Traditional & Contemporary Photo Tools. Pixiq: Sterling. 2011. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600597862. pap. $24.95. ART INSTRUCTION
There is a retro trend evident in current fashion, in the renewed interest in vinyl records, and in smartphone apps that take crisp, high-resolution digital images that look like they were taken with a Brownie box camera and developed in a darkroom. This book is just the thing for retro camera app devotees who want to go a step or two further. Fine-art photographer Neel presents all manner of camera equipment alteration projects, alternative processes, and playful photographic tricks, often combining digital and analog processes. This is a modern guide that incorporates older tools with great creative effect.


Freuchtel-Dearing, Erin. Natural Wooden Toys. Fox Chapel. 2011. 183p. illus. index. ISBN 9781565235243. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS
Concerned with the safety of commercially produced toys, Freuchtel-Dearing purchased a secondhand scroll saw and began making‚ and then selling‚ her own natural wood toys. In this guide, she shares techniques, tips, and patterns for making a variety of safe, eco-friendly toys well suited for creative play. The projects are organized thematically (farm, fairy tale, ocean, cityscape, and forest), and the author provides a useful introduction to woodworking techniques. Most of the toys are simple and require little to no woodworking experience. An enjoyable guide to making toys to please children under eight.

Taylor, Louisa. The Ceramics Bible: The Complete Guide to Materials and Techniques. Chronicle. 2011. 288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781452101620. $40. CRAFTS
Many books contain the word bible in the title, but few are as complete as designer Taylor’s ceramics guide, which includes a wealth of material about technique, as well as inspiration for artists working with clay. Novice artists looking for guidance on a particular technique‚ whether hand building, slip casting, or throwing‚ will find step-by-step directions, and experienced artists interested in mixing their own clays or glazes will find a number of recipes. Ample full-color photographs, both instructional and inspirational, are included. Ceramics is a popular hobby, and this guide will appeal to a variety of artists.

do it yourself

Orr, Mike. Handmade Music Factory: The Ultimate Guide to Making Foot-Stompin’-Good Instruments. Fox Chapel. 2011. 160p. illus. ISBN 9781565235595. pap. $22.95. DIY
If you want really to make your own music, this book is for you. Although there are a few guides devoted to the construction of instruments with found items, this title is much more detailed. Professional carpenter Orr eases readers in with the construction of a washtub bass, with clear, step-by-step illustrations. The more sophisticated stringed instruments require a lot more tool use and special materials; unfortunately, the resources list does not provide adequate coverage. Still, solid instructions and templates make this attractive book quite usable. Recommended for high school and public libraries.

fiber crafts

Field, Anne. Learn To Spin with Anne Field. Trafalgar Square. 2011. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781570764929. pap. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS Field (Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics ), a world-renowned spinning and weaving expert, presents a beginner’s guide to spinning a variety of fibers on a spinning wheel. In addition to tips and techniques for spinning, there’s a good deal of information on preparing fiber for spinning using common tools such as flick carders and drum carders, as well as a guide to various plant, animal, and synthetic fibers. A number of projects, both knitted and woven, designed for handspun fibers are also featured. Hand spinning continues to grow in popularity, and this is a good introduction to the variety of fibers and techniques.

Hubert, Margaret. The Granny Square Book: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Crocheting Square by Square. Quarry: Quayside. 2011. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589236387. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS
Longtime crocheter and designer Hubert explores granny squares‚ those classic square crocheted motifs‚ in this collection of patterns. A full-color photo of each square is included, as well as written and charted instructions for crocheting the square. Crocheters can mix and match their favorite granny squares or follow one of the variety of included patterns. It’s not easy to make garments and accessories featuring granny squares look fresh and contemporary, but several of Hubert’s creations are quite fashionable. Crocheters looking to move beyond basic granny squares, as well as new crocheters drawn to these traditional motifs, will enjoy this collection. /p>

Kight, Kimberly. A Field Guide to Fabric Design. Stash: C&T. 2011. c.160p. illus. ISBN 9781607053552. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Kight, a self-taught fabric designer and blogger (, introduces novices to the processes and artistry behind creating patterned fabric. After covering the nuts and bolts of design, including color theory, directional patterns, and types of fabric, Kight describes the process of creating one’s own fabrics using both pen-and-paper and computer-based design and printing the finished design (or hiring someone to print the fabric for you). Though the audience for the design sections of the book is limited to crafters with an artistic bent, much of the other content will help quilters and sewers make the best possible use of the fabrics in their collections.

Leapman, Melissa. Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn. Potter Craft: Crown Pub. Group. 2011. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307586636. pap. $19.99. FIBER CRAFTS
If you knit, you likely have a stash that includes small amounts of leftover yarn along with yarn purchased without a specific project in mind. In her latest book, popular knitwear designer Leapman (Mastering Color Knitting)combines an interesting selection of projects with tips for organizing, storing, and cataloging yarn; advice on color selection; and brief descriptions of common knitting techniques. The projects‚ for accessories, garments, and home decor‚ are organized by yarn weight, and most are accessible to knitters of all skill levels. Leapman’s books never disappoint, and this one is no exception‚ the information is excellent and the projects are attractive.

McCants, Kelly. Sewing with Oilcloth. Wiley. 2011. 156p. illus. index. ISBN 9780470912324. pap. $18.99. FIBER CRAFTS
McCants is an expert on using funky, modern-retro oilcloth, as well as its more eco-friendly cousin, laminated cotton. Her first collection of sewing patterns includes a variety of tips and tricks for sewing with oilcloth, laminated cotton, and chalk cloth (a specially treated fabric that can be written on with chalk). Oilcloth tends to feature colorful patterns with an old-fashioned feel, and the projects take advantage of this look. Most patterns here are easy to intermediate, and McCants provides ample guidance to sewers who have never used this type of fabric.

Nargi, Lela. Knitting Around the World: A Multistranded History of a Time-Honored Tradition. Voyageur: Quayside. 2011. 264p. illus. index. ISBN 9780760337943. $35. FIBER CRAFTS
Knitting began in the 12th century in the Arab world but spread quickly. Nargi (Astounding Knits!) takes knitters on an around-the-world tour of traditional knitting. The history is the heart of the book, but there’s so much more here, including interviews with well-known knitting experts, descriptions of unique yarns and techniques, and projects focused on each region’s styles and traditions. This excellent‚ and very readable‚ reference to global knitting traditions belongs on the bookshelf of any knitter interested in the history and development of knitting.

interior design

Musson, Jeremy (text) & Paul Barker (photogs.). English Country House Interiors. Rizzoli, dist. by Random. 2011. 272p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780847835690. $60. INTERIOR DESIGN
Musson (coauthor, with Barker, English Ruins) features 14 country houses throughout England that exemplify particular period qualities, beginning with the early 17th-century Jacobean Hatfield House and continuing through the early 20th-century aesthetic movement shown in Berkeley Castle. Barker provides over 250 color photographs that beautifully illustrate Musson’s explanation of the design influences and trends and profiles of such craftspeople as Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale. Musson relates failed mid-20th-century restoration attempts and, with the more recent opening of these homes to the public, the awareness and appreciation of their special place in English history. Recommended for those interested in English interior design and history.

Anna Katterjohn About Anna Katterjohn

Anna Katterjohn ( is Managing Editor for the LJ Book Review and assigns books on performing arts, cooking, home economics, and crafts.