Crafts & DIY Reviews, July 2012


Kirby, Jo. Techniques of Painting. National Gallery London, dist. by Yale Univ. (Closer Look) 2012. c.96p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781857095340. pap. $15. ART INSTRUCTION

Techniques of Painting offers a wealth of information about the elements of classical painting from a historical perspective. Kirby works in the scientific department of the National Gallery and is an expert on pigments and paint materials. She presents detailed information about how stretchers and panels were constructed, pigments mixed, paints used, and gold leaf applied to masterworks in the gallery’s collections. Photographs enhance the descriptions of processes. VERDICT Art history buffs curious about how paintings are made will enjoy this book the most.

How to Draw & Paint Fashion & Costume Design: Step-by-Step Art Instruction from the Vintage Walter Foster Archives. Walter Foster: Quayside. Jul. 2012. c.128p. illus. ISBN 9781600582462. pap. $19.95. ART INSTRUCTION

Walter Foster has been producing straightforward step-by-step art instruction books for more than 90 years. In this new guide, the company digs deeply into its archives to provide fashion figure drawing instruction that surveys 20th-century fashion. By viewing sketches from the 1920s through the 1960s, readers can render their versions of women’s and men’s fashions of the day. A chapter on theatrical costumes also uses vintage drawings to present a variety of period, burlesque, and Hollywood costumes. VERDICT This will appeal to retro fans and those with strong nostalgic sensibilities much more than to the fashion-forward set.


Eurto, Lorelei & Erin Siegel. Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry: 50 Designs Using Leather, Ribbon, and Cords. Interweave. 2012. c.127p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596684980. pap. $22.95. CRAFTS

The projects in this book may be bohemian-inspired, but they’re more haute than hippie. Jewelry designers Eurto and Siegel work with ribbons and cords in their designs, and the contrast between these softer materials and the beads and stones in their jewelry is a source of inspiration. Most of the projects incorporate little more than basic stringing and knotting techniques, although some projects explore simple wirework. Advanced crafters could easily customize their pieces further by handcrafting clasps and other findings. VERDICT These attractive yet simple designs will appeal to a variety of tastes.

Terry, Kayte. Paper Made: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper. Workman. 2012. c.248p. illus. index. ISBN 9780761159971. pap. $16.95. CRAFTS

Paper is inexpensive, abundantly available, and easy to repurpose, and thus an excellent craft supply. In this collection, crafter Terry presents 101 different projects using paper products, most of which require supplies that can easily be found around the house or at a craft store and no special skills other than the ability to cut out shapes and use a hot-glue gun. The projects are generally stylish, which is no surprise‚ Terry is a merchandiser for the fashion chain Anthropologie, known for their crafty-chic aesthetic‚ and since paper projects are almost endlessly customizable, they can be made to suit any taste. VERDICT Fans of eco-friendly crafts and creative repurposing will enjoy this collection of nicely designed, easy-to-make projects.

Do It Yourself

starred review star Bennett, Bob. Rabbit Housing: Planning, Building and Equipping Facilities for Humanely Raising Healthy Rabbits. Storey. Jul. 2012. c.144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603429665. pap. $19.95. DIY

This book delivers, providing plans for a full range of rabbit homes, from a simple metal hutch to a full rabbitry. Bennett has more than 50 years of rabbit-raising experience and has authored half a dozen books on the topic. No-nonsense advice plus focus on materials and products leave little room for error. There is something here for both the experienced breeder and the beginner. The building projects are clearly described with line drawings illustrating construction and technique. VERDICT This excellent manual should be paired with any rabbit care guides, and, with the development of urban farming, should see a growing demand. A sterling work and highly recommended.

Fiber Crafts

50 Fabric Animals: Fun Sewing Projects for You and Your Home. Search, dist. by IPG. 2012. c.159p. illus. ISBN 9781844487707. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

This collection, originally published in France under the Marie Claire Idées imprint, includes a variety of animal-themed projects, including stuffed toys, accessories, and home decor items. The projects are cute, but the directions‚ presented as long paragraphs rather than as bulleted or numbered lists‚ are difficult to follow, especially in the middle of the project. Also, rather than providing a percentage for enlarging the pattern templates on a photocopier, guidelines are provided that require crafters to do their own math when enlarging the templates. VERDICT The projects are lovely, but the presentation of the directions leaves something to be desired. Even though most of the patterns could be sewn by beginners, this is recommended for experienced sewists who don’t need step-by-step guidance.

Bull, Jane. Stitch-by-Stitch: A Beginner’s Guide to Needlecraft. DK. 2012. c.124p. illus. index. ISBN 9780756690229. $16.99. FIBER CRAFTS

This bright, cheery introduction to embroidery, needlepoint, patchwork, appliqué, knitting, and crochet features abundant photographs and simple projects to help new crafters master the basics. Some sections are better than others‚ embroidery and needlepoint are top-notch, and the patchwork section provides an excellent (albeit basic) introduction to paper piecing, but the crochet section is skimpy and the knitting section moves from beginners’ basics to intermediate techniques a bit quickly. VERDICT Stitch by Stitch is very basic‚ just skimming the surface of each craft‚ but the colorful presentation makes it a useful introduction to fiber crafts, especially for adult beginners, older children, or teens.

Doh, Jenny. We Make Dolls: Top Dollmakers Share Their Secrets and Patterns. Lark: Sterling. 2012. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454702498. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

You don’t have to be a child to enjoy this fine collection of doll-making inspiration and information, featuring ten dollmakers showcasing their creations. The best thing about this collection is the diversity of doll styles represented, including Denise Ferragamo’s colorful matryoshkas, Jenn Docherty’s whimsically embellished needlefelted animals, Nichol Brinkman’s personality-filled pillow monster dolls, and Sasha Pokrass’s fully jointed, Steif-esque handmade teddy bears. Serious sewing skills are needed to make most of these projects, but most of the doll makers have online shops (and links are included). VERDICT The collection celebrates the diversity and artistry of contemporary doll making. The creations are inspiring, and crafters of all ages will enjoy customizing their own versions of the dolls.

Gandy, Charles D. The Embellished Sock: Knitted Art for the Foot. Acorn. 2012. c.129p. illus. ISBN 978098401206. pap. $26.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Art knitting makes use of unusual techniques, but the results can be uneven, often beautiful but unwearable. By applying art knitting techniques to socks, Gandy opens up the world of art knitting to everyday knitters while creating a product that is both fun and wearable. High points include the whimsical Loooooooooops sock, which features an I-cord looped ornamentation on the cuff, and the fanciful Snake in the Grass and Tiptoe Thru the Tulips socks. VERDICT While the patterns here aren’t for everyone, you have to admire the sense of humor and the spirit of experimentation that went into the designs.

Sundbo, Annemor. Norwegian Mittens and Gloves: Over 25 Classic Designs for Warm Fingers and Stylish Hands. Trafalgar Square. 2011. c.158p. tr. from Norwegian by uncredited person. illus. ISBN 9781570764950. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Even nonknitters can recognize the classic Norwegian knitting style‚ the ski sweater featuring snowflakes, stylized flowers, and reindeers. Norwegian knitter and knitwear historian Sundbo is a recognized expert on Norwegian motifs, and this book introduces knitters to the storied history of Norwegian knitting, providing 28 patterns for mittens and gloves using classic motifs and techniques. While full directions for shaping the mittens are provided, knitters need to have basic knowledge of stranded knitting and knitting in the round‚ these topics are not covered. VERDICT Stranded knitting is increasingly popular, as is folk knitting, and Sundbo’s knowledge of her topic shines. Also, the small scale of mittens and gloves makes them an excellent starter project for knitters new to stranded knitting.

Walters, Angela. Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: Choose & Use Quilting Designs on Modern Quilts. Stash: C&T. 2012. c.120p. illus. ISBN 9781607055358. pap. $22.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Walters is the go-to machine quilter for many modern quilt designers, and her first book is an introduction to the basics of designing for machine quilting. To make it appealing to a variety of quilters, it isn’t specific to a type of machine‚ any of the designs in the book could be created using a standard sewing machine or a long-arm quilting machine. Walters organizes the content by geometric shape (swirls and circles, squares, etc.), allowing quilters to quickly reference the designs when needed. A useful section on choosing what to quilt based on the design of the quilt top is also included. VERDICTMachine quilting is very popular, and this book is suitable for quilters of all skill levels, regardless of the machine they use for quilting.

Interior Design

Newsom, Lisa. The Houses of Veranda: The Art of Living Well. Hearst: Sterling. 2012. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781588169273. $60. INTERIOR DESIGN

Serving as editor in chief of the interior design magazine Southern Accents gave Newsom the courage in 1987 to start Veranda , which began as a magazine for regional interiors and expanded to show homes throughout the world. Here Newsom presents houses and gardens that exemplify the best of her magazine. More than 200 color photographs depict lavish, primarily professionally designed interiors in styles from classic to modern with text explaining the designers’ and residents’ approaches. Although quite a few of the dwellings are located in the southern United States (as befits Veranda ‘s origins), homes throughout the United States and Europe also are included. VERDICT Newsom’s collection of homes will appeal to those seeking inspiration for an extravagant living space.