Crafts & DIY Reviews, April 1, 2012


Schwake, Susan & Rainer Schwake. Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-for Budding Artists of All Ages. Quarry: Quayside. 2012. c.144p. illus. ISBN 9781592537655. $22.99. ART INSTRUCTION

Written by a couple who run a successful combination art gallery and art school for children, this book presents the authors’ most popular art projects for youngsters, covering an ambitious range of materials and techniques. This guide offers a greater-than-average number of open-ended and inventive projects that can be taught to younger children and teens alike. Each project is paired with an example of a work by a modern master or living artist. Many photographs illustrate techniques and show children deeply engaged in creativity. VERDICT Recommended particularly for teachers and parents.


Johnston, Michael. 40 Great Stained Glass Projects. Stackpole. 2012. c.176p. illus. ISBN 9780811705905. pap. $24.95. CRAFTS

Stained-glass artist Johnston’s (Making Stained Glass Panels ) latest collection emphasizes small home-décor objects, such as boxes, planters, and candle holders. The projects are intended for stained-glass artists at all levels, and each includes a full supply list, step-by-step directions with photographs, and patterns for cutting. A brief summary of stained-glass equipment and basics is also included. VERDICT A nice collection of small stained-glass projects that would make fine gifts.

Young, Anastasia. Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker’s Guide to Styles & Techniques. Interweave. 2012. c.208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596686366. $29.95. CRAFTS

UK-based jewelry designer Young (The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques ) focuses on the design and execution of gemstone settings in this clearly organized reference. Following an introduction to jewelry design and a reference guide to common gemstones, Young explores a variety of setting techniques, each graded by skill level. Full-color photographs of the steps of each technique, along with photos of inspiring finished objects, are included. VERDICT Experienced jewelry makers will consider this a useful reference to creating jewelry with precious and semiprecious stones.

do it yourself

Schmidt, Philip. PlyDesign: 73 Distinctive DIY Projects in Plywood (and Other Sheet Goods). Storey. Apr. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603427258. pap. $24.95. DIY

Can plywood ever be stylish? Schmidt, carpenter and established DIY author, presents a great introduction to the medium. With background information and tips for best ways to work with plywood, what follows is a collection of projects from a variety of designers, representing a wide range of styles. Projects include furniture, storage solutions, decorative items, and toys. Some projects are clunky, others are sleek and sophisticated. The book’s layout and organization are good. VERDICT Similar in coverage to Spike Carlsen’s Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects . While this is a mixed bag in terms of quality, its selection of projects makes it a solid addition to most public libraries.

fiber crafts

starred review starBennett, Laura. Handmade Chic: Fashionable Projects That Look High-End, Not Homespun. Rodale. 2012. c.200p. illus. index. ISBN 9781609613006. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

On Project Runway , Bennett turned judges’ heads with her classically styled garments. In her first book, she focuses on luxe accessories, including handbags, belts, bracelets, and organizers, made from leather with metal embellishments. The clear directions and down-to-earth guidance make working with leather, fur, feathers, and beads seem less intimidating, and the results are reminiscent of accessories found in designer boutiques. VERDICT Perfect for fashionable crafters who crave high-end accessories without the high-end price tag.

Boerens, Trice. Two-Hour Cross-Stitch: Flowers. Lark: Sterling. 2012. c.156p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454701163. pap. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Boerens’s ( Two-Hour Cross-Stitch ) second collection of small cross-stitch motifs focuses on flowers, with designs organized by type (traditional, deco, formal, and fantasy, along with a section of monograms and messages). As expected, the motifs are colorful and cheery, and the variety of styles means that there’s a floral pattern for every need. Knowledge of cross-stitch is assumed‚ this is predominantly a pattern book‚ but there is a two-page introduction to the basics. VERDICT The variety of floral motifs makes this book an excellent value for cross-stitch collections.

Gerlings, Charlotte. Patchwork. Fox Chapel. (Craft Workbooks). Apr. 2012. c.48p. illus. ISBN 9781565236851. pap. $9.95. FIBER CRAFTS

The latest installment in Fox Chapel’s Craft Workbooks series focuses on the basics of patchwork and quilting. After a brief introduction to fabric, sewing machines, and patchwork history, Gerlings provides one- to two-page summaries of various techniques, with illustrated examples. Several popular styles, including log cabin and Seminole patchwork, are included. VERDICT The information is useful, but the lack of photographs and the overly brief coverage of topics detract from the presentation. Elizabeth Hartman’s The Practical Guide to Patchwork is a more thorough guide for beginners.

starred review starRadcliffe, Margaret. Circular Knitting Workshop: Essential Techniques To Master Knitting in the Round. Storey. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603429993. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Circular knitting is useful for anything tubular (socks, hats, mittens), but how else can it be used? Veteran knitting instructor and designer Radcliffe (The Knitting Answer Book ) explores the ins and outs of circular knitting, including cast-ons and bind-offs, techniques for circular knitting, and conversion of flat knits to circular knits. Ample color photographs that correspond to the directions and workshop projects designed to reinforce the information in the book are included. VERDICT All knitters, from novice to expert, will find something new and useful in this comprehensive guide. Essential for knitting collections.

interior design

Howard, Phoebe with Susan Sully. The Joy of Decorating: Southern Style with Mrs. Howard. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2012. c.256p. photogs. ISBN 9781584799610. $50. INTERIOR DESIGN

Although never formally trained as an interior designer, Howard has established the furnishings stores Mrs. Howard and Max and Company and parlayed her design aesthetic into a successful practice whose commissions have been featured in national home magazines. Here, she shares the interiors of homes located in the Southern United States, New York City, East Hampton, NY, and Bermuda that she has created in her stores, for her clients, and in her own abodes. Over 160 color photographs show living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, baths, kitchens, foyers, and libraries, accompanied by explanations of her design concepts. VERDICT Amateurs will find the advice inspiring as will those interested in a sophisticated, classic interior design.