Crafts & DIY Reviews, February 15, 2012


Sherin, Aaris. Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Impacts Design. Rockport: Quayside. 2012. 160p. illus. ISBN 9781592537198. pap. $24.99. ART INSTRUCTION

In this dynamic reference manual, Sherin ( SustainAble: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and Their Clients ) succinctly addresses all aspects of communication through color, providing many helpful tips and pointing out the accepted standards. Along the way, she demystifies color theory, unpacks the emotive qualities of color, and even discusses when and where a designer might break the rules. The guide is loaded with hundreds of examples of color used effectively in all sorts of design contexts, including pack age design, logos, advertising, web design, and information architecture. VERDICT Students and beginning designers will learn the most from this book, but anyone who communicates visually will find it informative.


State of Craft. Cicada, dist. by D.A.P. 2011. 240p. ed. by Victoria Woodcock. illus. ISBN 9780956205346. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS

Woodcock, a UK-based crafter, curated this collection of craft projects and interviews highlighting the contemporary DIY movement in the UK. The projects are a mishmash of self-consciously clever and/or teeth-gratingly cutesy crafts, tired retreads (can the moustaches are funny trend please die already?), and classroom art projects‚ including something called a hipster headdress that looks like a leftover from a kindergarten Thanksgiving pageant. The interviews, where crafters share their inspiration and discuss how they got started, are appealing but not worth the cover price. VERDICT Not recommended.

do it yourself

Rehfeld, Barry. Home Sweet Zero Energy Home: What It Takes To Develop Great Homes That Won’t Cost Anything To Heat, Cool or Light Up, Without Going Broke or Crazy. New Society. 2012. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9780865716988. pap. $17.95. DIY

Can you really have a home so efficient that it actually creates all the energy it needs to run? Rehfeld (founder, makes a strong case for doing just that. Still, he acknowledges the need for greater accessibility to energy-efficient home design and alternative energy sources. While Rehfeld’s text is bursting with statistics and success stories, he does not include how-to instruction or specific projects. VERDICT Readers looking for solid justification for a low- or no-energy home will be well served by this title. Those seeking realistic do-it-yourself advice should consider Bruce Harley’s Cut Your Energy Bills Now or The Energy-Smart House .

fiber crafts

Firefly’s Step-by-Step Encyclopedia of Needlecraft. Firefly. 2011. 320p. ed. by Louise Dixon. illus. index. ISBN 9781554079254. pap. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Craft encyclopedias, where basic information about multiple crafts is provided in a single guide, seem to be big business, to judge from how many are being published these days. This one includes basics-and-beyond information about knitting, crochet, quilting (including patchwork and appliqué), embroidery, and sewing. The full-color illustrations are helpful, especially for more complex techniques, and the coverage has slightly more depth than in similar books. A variety of simple projects are also provided, but, oddly, they aren’t at the end of each craft’s section, but at the end of the book, so they’re easy to miss. VERDICT This is a nice all-in-one guide, handy if shelf space (or money) is limited.

Kagan, Sasha. Sasha Kagan’s Classic Collection. Taunton. 2011. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600854118. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

This retrospective of patterns from iconic British knitwear designer Kagan spans the entirety of her career, from the 1960s to the present. Though some of the designs are old enough to be considered retro, there’s nothing costumey about them‚ they’re more suited to a garden party on a grand estate. VERDICT Knitters familiar with Kagan’s aesthetic will find everything they expect in this collection: intarsia and stranded color work, nature-inspired motifs, and classic yet timeless silhouettes.

Phillips, Charlene. The Sewing Machine Classroom: Learning the Ins and Outs of Your Machine. Krause. 2011. 160p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781440216008. $27.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Phillips (The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook ) presents an overview of sewing basics. This information is similar to that found in other books in the genre; however, the extensive troubleshooting information, which covers everything from stitch problems to sewing machine issues, is extremely helpful, especially for beginners. Phillips’s guide doesn’t focus on a specific brand of sewing machine, so the information is relevant to a wider audience than those served by many of the available branded sewing guides. VERDICT Beginners will find plenty of useful information here, and sewers of all levels who need a refresher on a specific technique or assistance working through a problem with their machine may also appreciate Phillips’s expert guidance.

interior design

Kemble, Celerie. Black & White (And a Bit in Between): Timeless Interiors, Dramatic Accents, and Stylish Collections. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. 2011. 256p. photogs. ISBN 9780307715982. $50. INTERIOR DESIGN

Interior designer Kemble (To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist ) shares her newly found enthusiasm for black-and-white color schemes in residential interiors. She includes over 350 color photographs of her own designs as well as designs that have inspired her. In addition, she packs this book with tips on paint choices, cleaning, entertaining, and more. VERDICT Whereas Janelle McCulloch’s Design in Black & White is a compilation of inspiring photographs, Kemble expertly instructs readers on how and why to use a black-and-white palette in any decor. A good source for amateurs and professionals.