Crafts & DIY Reviews, January 2012


Berry, Bob (illus.) & Joey Marsocci & Allison DeBlasio (text). How To Draw Steampunk. Walter Foster: Quayside. 2011. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781600582400. pap. $19.95. ART INSTRUCTION

Steampunk, once a little-known subcultural phenomenon, has gained popularity. After a brief discussion of the origins and influences of steampunk, husband and wife Marsocci and DeBlasio‚ who design steampunk props for films‚ and artist Berry provide background on basic tools and techniques, then go on to present exercises in steampunk-themed drawing, painting, and illustration. These projects increase in complexity over the course of the book, including some digital tools along the way. This title will appeal especially to young adult readers.

Calderhead, Christopher & Holly Cohen. The World Encyclopedia of Calligraphy: The Ultimate Compendium on the Art of Fine Writing. Sterling. 2011. 308p. illus. index. ISBN 9781402733680. $35. ART INSTRUCTION

This lusciously illustrated book seems to be intended more as a reference resource than as a guidebook, but it functions well as both because of the authors’ thorough treatment of form and attention to detail. Style sheets for dozens of alphabets with stroke-by-stroke analysis of each letter are included. Calderhead (Calligraphy Studio) and calligrapher Cohen explore beautifully handwritten texts in many languages and alphabets from regions around the world, discussing history and technique throughout. A few chapters specifically address writing instruments and other equipment. Hobbyist calligraphers, designers, and art students are likely to enjoy this encyclopedia.

Heilman, Carl, II. The Landscape Photography Field Guide: Capturing the Great Outdoors with Your Digital SLR Camera. Focal: Elsevier. 2011. 188p. illus. index. ISBN 9780240819228. pap. $15.95. ART INSTRUCTION

Heilman (Contemporary Landscape Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Spectacular Settings) has pared digital landscape photography tips down to the bare essentials of equipment, technique, shooting, creative effects, and editing workflow in this pocket-size field guide. A handy reference section and glossary are also included. Heilman persuasively coaxes beginning enthusiasts to shut off the automatic settings on their cameras and walks them through a wide range of creative choices available through the manual aperture, ISO, and focus settings. Beginners, experienced enthusiasts, and commercial photographers alike will find this book helpful.


Cochran, Khris. The DIY Bride, an Affair To Remember: 40 Fantastic Projects To Celebrate Your Unique Wedding Style. Taunton. Jan. 2012. c.224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600853517. pap. $21.95. CRAFTS

Cochran (The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown) presents a new collection of projects to add a touch of handmade to weddings. Each project has an estimated time for creation, a full price breakdown, and a comparison with the cost of similar commercially or professionally made articles, allowing couples to decide whether the time investment for the project is worthwhile. The projects are organized by wedding style, including modern, urban, fairy tale, exotic, and country, but Cochran frequently provides style-modification suggestions. Bridal craft books are perpetually popular, and this is a nice, accessible collection for readers looking to add flair to their special day.


Stuart, Christopher. DIY Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide. Laurence King, dist. by Chronicle. 2011. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781856697422. pap. $24.95. DIY

Industrial designer and artist Stuart tries to make modern art approachable with this collection from an array of contributing designers. From tables and seating to storage, lighting, and accessories, the 30 projects include step-by-step line drawings with minimal instructional text in a small font. There is no tool-use instruction or troubleshooting guidelines. Some of the construction methods and materials will not hold up to general use, especially in households with children or pets. A few projects are better actualized, such as the writer’s desk, nesting tables, and several storage projects. Not a required purchase.


starred review starMitnick, Sarai. The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress. Krause. 2011. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781440215452. $29.99. FIBER CRAFTS The Colette Sewing Handbook cover image

Mitnick, founder of the fashion-forward Colette Patterns line, introduces novice sewers to the principles of fine garment construction in this simple guide to couture sewing. She focuses on creating garments that fit and flatter, while teaching lessons about working with patterns, tailoring, and construction via five simple yet attractive projects. The pattern sizes are diverse (sizes zero to 18), and Mitnick provides abundant advice on making each project flattering for different body types. Though the book is intended for beginners, it is appropriate for sewers of all levels who appreciate a well-tailored garment.

The Quilters Hall of Fame: 42 Masters Who Have Shaped Our Art. Voyageur: Quayside. 2011. 208p. ed. by Merikay Waldvogel & others. photogs. index. ISBN 9780760336359. $35. FIBER CRAFTS

The Quilters Hall of Fame, founded in 1979, honors the accomplishments of the quilt-making community, including quilt historians, collectors, and researchers. To introduce the organization and its members, Waldvogel and two other quilt authorities collect short biographical pieces, along with samples from private collections and the Quilters Hall of Fame museum, which opened in 2004 in Marion, IN. As expected, styles range from traditional Americana from the 19th and early 20th centuries to modern, abstract designs. There aren’t any projects here, but this is a fine introduction to quilting’s traditions and future as well as an excellent overview of the accomplishments of luminaries.

Yu, Alice. Socktopus: 17 Pairs of Socks To Knit and Show Off. Taunton. 2011. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600854101. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

London-based Yu’s yarn shop, sock yarn line, and role as cofounder of the Knit Nation knitting exhibition are marvelous gifts to the international knitting community. In her first published collection of patterns, she explores the wit and whimsy of knitted socks, demonstrating a flair for matching color with design. A few of the patterns will be familiar to avid sock knitters, but many are brand new, and the designs range from simple to intricate. One of the nicest features is the step-by-step photographic guides to unusual or unexpected techniques, such as the Channel Island cast on and Kihnu Vits braid. Sock knitters of all levels will appreciate Yu’s exciting and attractive patterns.


Dickinson, Duo. Staying Put: Remodel Your House To Get the Home You Want. Taunton. 2011. 256p. photogs. ISBN 9781600853647. pap. $24.95. INTERIOR DESIGN

Architect Dickinson (House on a Budget: Making Smart Choices To Build the Home You Want) shares information on remodeling or adding on to an older home to bring it up-to-date for today’s lifestyles. Close to 50 projects for which Dickinson was the architect are shown with nearly 350 photographs, including before-and-after views of the homes and floor plans. Many projects focus on porches and entries, but there are also kitchens, bedrooms, baths, living rooms, and home offices. Throughout, Dickinson provides an abundance of information about what to consider during every phase of the process (e.g., zoning, costs, builders). This volume will give home owners a realistic view of a remodel or addition.

Prato, Cate Coulacos. Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space. Interweave. 2011. 160p. photogs. ISBN 9781596683983. pap. $24.95. INTERIOR DESIGN

Prato (editor, Cloth Paper Scissors Studios) visits 27 craftspeople‚ quilters, painters, fabric artists, and jewelry makers‚ who describe how they designed their space to suit their needs, whether it is a separate structure or just a nook in the home. Over 200 photographs depict the various studios; some are accompanied by a floor plan. Organization and storage of materials and lighting considerations are discussed in detail. This collection of practical, inspiring ideas for setting up an area reserved exclusively for crafting will appeal to weekend scrapbookers and professional quilters alike.

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.