Crafts & DIY Reviews, April 15, 2012


Edwards, Betty. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition. Tarcher: Pengion Group (USA). May 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781585429196. $32.95; pap. ISBN 9781585429202. $19.95. Art instruction

This new edition of the hugely popular and influential drawing manual first published over 30 years ago incorporates new findings from neuroscience, like the discovery of brain plasticity, together with the tried-and-true exercises included in past editions. Edwards (art, emerita, California State Univ., Long Beach) explains the value of accessing the brain’s more creative right hemisphere and has isolated five perceptual skills readers can develop to begin harnessing their right brain power to improve their drawing. She makes a strong case that these exercises will improve not only practitioners’ realistic drawing capabilities but their perceptual and general problem-solving skills as well. VERDICT This fascinating read is recommended.


Prolific author, designer, and teacher Fitzgerald (Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork ) presents a best-of collection featuring some of her favorite beading projects over the course of her career. She finds inspiration from a variety of sources, including nature and beadwork from indigenous cultures, so there’s a diverse sampling of projects in terms of both style and technique. VERDICT Fitzgerald is a big name in the field, and for good reason‚ she knows her stuff, and as a seasoned teacher she’s good at guiding crafters through the steps of a project. This is a good addition to jewelry-making collections.

Rothman, Carole. Creative Wooden Boxes from the Scroll Saw: 28 Useful & Surprisingly Easy-To-Make Projects. Fox Chapel. 2012. c.175p. illus. index. ISBN 9781565235410. pap. $24.95. CRAFTS

Rothman (Wooden Bowls from the Scroll Saw ) here presents a second collection of projects, focusing on wooden boxes‚ but these aren’t the wooden boxes you might imagine. Rothman’s boxes are shaped like wrapped gifts, furniture, and food, and they often include stripes or resin inlays. The first box in each chapter includes step-by-step directions with photographs to illustrate basic techniques, and these can be used as a reference for the other boxes in the chapter. VERDICT Rothman’s designs are eye-catching and creative; woodworkers can learn from the techniques illustrated in this collection even if the projects are not their style.

do it yourself

Donegan, Fran J. & David Short. Pools and Spas: Planning, Designing, Maintaining, Landscaping. 3d ed. Creative Homeowner. 2012. c.336p. illus. index. ISBN 9781580115339. pap. $19.95. DIY

Summer’s just around the corner‚ time to get a pool! Home-improvement authors and editors Short (now deceased) and Donegan here revisit their 2008 edition. The bulk of this third edition remains the same; however, it is still a great, comprehensive guide to pools and spas. Planning considerations and pool types are well detailed, troubleshooting and maintenance are covered in depth, and pool equipment and components are clearly laid out. New to this edition is an inspirational gallery of 50 pool designs, glamorously photographed. VERDICT With much more detail thanPools and Spas: Everything You Need To Know To Design and Landscape a Pool (Sunset, 2008), this book covers all the bases for residential swimming pools and backyard spas. This solid contender is highly recommended for all public libraries.

fiber crafts

Blum, Nicole & Debra Immergut. Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects. Storey. Apr. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603427401. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Given this book’s title, you may expect pieces that are thrown together with little care. That’s certainly not the approach in Blum and Immergut’s excellent introduction to sewing‚ they simply want to reduce the intimidation factor. The authors’ five basic designs are at the heart of all of the garments in the book, and they’re broken down so clearly and concisely that any stitcher, regardless of experience level, could create a well-fitting, attractive garment following these instructions. These five designs alone are worth the cost of the book; the 96 other patterns, which include riffs on the five basic designs as well as household goods and accessories, make it an even better value. VERDICT An excellent sewing book for beginners, although experienced tailors will also enjoy the simple yet tailored patterns and creative approach.

Le Berre, Hélène. Liberty Cross Stitch: 24 Designs To Sew. Search, dist. by IPG. Apr. 2012. c.96p. illus. ISBN 9781844487462. pap. $21.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Liberty of London’s iconic printed fabrics are at the center of this collection of projects that combine simple sewing with cross-stitched motifs. Following Le Berre’s instructions, readers sew each project using Liberty fabrics, then add cross-stitched embellishments created on regular canvas. Organized by project type (fashion and accessories, home decor, and baby), the book has plenty of variety, and none of the projects is overly involved or difficult. VERDICT Stitchers and sewers who love the romantic look of Liberty prints will adore Le Berre’s designs.

Montgomerie, Claire. The Knitting Encyclopedia. Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2012. c.224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780312640163. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Montgomerie ( The Knitter’s Yarn Palette ) explores all things knitting in this comprehensive guide. All of the basic techniques are covered, including multiple cast-ons, bind-offs and increases, colorwork, lace, and aran knitting. An assortment of projects, from beginning to advanced, allows knitters to practice what they learn, and a stitch dictionary rounds out the collection. VERDICT This fine general knitting reference is comparable to the excellent (and ten-year-old)Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knit ting Book , but with the addition of projects.

Shaffer, Cynthia. Stash Happy: Appliqué; 25 Fresh Projects for Fabric Lovers. Lark: Sterling. Apr. 2012. c.128p. illus. ISBN 9781454702801. pap. $16.95. FIBER CRAFTS

The latest in Lark’s cheery Stash Happy series ( Stash Happy: Felt ) focuses on projects using a variety of appliqué techniques. A brief introduction covers the basics, and the selection of whimsical projects, most small enough to make in one day, allows crafters to use up accumulated scrap fabric. VERDICT Crafters interested in exploring the basics of appliqué with small, simple projects will enjoy this collection.

interior design

Phipps, Paula. Mirrors: Reflections of Style. Norton. Apr. 2012. c.144p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780393705744. $45. INTERIOR DESIGN

Historian and researcher Phipps here explores the history of mirrors with a particular focus on their use in interiors throughout the world. She discusses their use as architectural features‚ such as in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles‚ and continues with a look at mirrors as decorative accessories, as components of furniture, and as elements in garden design. Over 160 photographs show historic examples as well as contemporary interiors featuring mirrors. VERDICT Those interested in the history of decorative accessories and home furnishings will find this a valuable addition to their collection.