Crafts & DIY, August 2012


Laws, John Muir. The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. Heyday. Sept. 2012. c.128p. illus. ISBN 9781597141956. pap. $24.95. ART INSTRUCTION

This new guide to drawing birds comes from the naturalist author of a popular birding field guide series. Laws approaches the topic from both artistic and scientific vantage points, discussing anatomy, posture, and flight of a variety of species. Every page is packed with illustrations to show the drawing process in detail. Tips that only an expert could provide are included throughout. VERDICT Bird-watchers will be pleasantly surprised to discover how helpful this book can be toward fully seeing and understanding the birds they spot. This book will have good crossover value with hobby and bird-watching topics.

Plowman, Randal. The Collage Workbook: How To Get Started and Stay Inspired. Lark Crafts: Lark Books. 2012. c.132p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454701996. pap. $17.95. ART INSTRUCTION

The author of The Collage Workbook has been making at least one small collage per day for many years and has chronicled his work since 2006 on the blog Plowman covers design basics, tools, and techniques before inviting readers to make their own mixed-media found-object artworks using 50 short exercises. Hundreds of examples of inspiring collages are included. A companion website to the book,, provides links to sources for public-domain imagery and a place for readers to share work. VERDICT This book will help readers see creative possibilities in mundane and unusual places.


Taylor, Peter E. Calligraphy for Greetings Cards and Scrapbooks. Guild of Master Craftsman, dist. by Sterling. Sept. 2012. c.176p. illus. photogs. index. ISBN 9781861088826. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS

Australian book artist Taylor introduces novices to the fine art of lettering in this colorful, comprehensive how-to guide. Starting with pen, ink, and paper selection, and moving into a discussion of various techniques, Taylor provides a variety of projects (with step-by-step directions) designed to help the developing calligrapher and paper crafter. There’s ample design inspiration in the full-color illustrations, and styles range from traditional Gothic and Italic to whimsical modern alphabets. The projects include a variety of greeting cards in a range of styles, as well as explorations of advanced techniques such as gilding and embossing.VERDICT Calligraphy has a number of applications, including scrapbooking and wedding crafts, and Taylor’s book provides library collections with a much needed, quality update.

do it yourself

Gurstelle, William. Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices. 2d ed. Chicago Review/Cappella: Chicago Review Press. 2012. c.240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781613740644. pap. $16.95. DIY

From potato guns to flaming balloons, this DIY book has unique appeal. Gurstelle (The Practical Pyromaniac ; The Art of the Catapult ) offers an update to his 2001 publication, adding new devices and resource information. Interspersed between projects are sections on history and scientific principles, adding depth to the mayhem. Cautions for safety are strongly stated and frequently. These are definitely not for unsupervised youth. The projects range from utterly simplistic to complicated construction, accompanied by clear instructions. VERDICT Fun and potentially dangerous, this is sure to be a hit at most public libraries. Recommended. Bring your own safety goggles.

fiber crafts

Knight, Erika. Simple Crocheting: A Complete How-To-Crochet Workshop with 20 Projects. St. Martin’s/Griffin. Nov. 2012. c.144p. illus. ISBN 9781250016218. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Knit and crochet designer Knight’s ( Simple Knitting ) basics-and-beyond guide to crochet provides a straightforward introduction to stitches and techniques for beginners, as well as a refresher for experienced crocheters. The stitch dictionary includes charted instructions as well as written instructions. Knight includes a collection of stylish, understated accessories and home decor patterns, most presented in a contemporary, neutral color palette. VERDICT Too often, crochet books veer toward amigurumi-cute or unfashionably retro, so Knight’s intelligent, modern introduction to crochet is especially welcome.

The Stitching Book: A Step-by-Step Guide to Surface Stitching Techniques. Search Press. 2012. c.272p. illus. photogs. index. ISBN 9781844487196. pap. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS

This omnibus edition features material from eight of Search Press’s “Beginner’s Guide” series of embroidery books, providing stitchers with basic information on a variety of techniques. Each section includes a brief introduction to supplies and techniques, followed by simple projects suitable for beginners. There are few books published on most of these techniques, which include blackwork, goldwork, Hardanger, and Mountmellick, but these traditional forms do have modern appeal. VERDICT Though there’s not a lot of depth, the wide variety of coverage, including some lesser-known embroidery styles, makes this a good value for library collections.

Tsukiori, Yoshiko. Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom. Tuttle. Sept. 2012. c.80p. illus. photogs. ISBN 97780804843157. pap. $18.95. FIBER CRAFTS

This collection of 26 garments features the work of designer Tsukiori, whose blousy, romantic style is popular in her native Japan. Some of the dresses are stylish in a sweet, retro way, but a few look like children’s clothing sized to fit adults, making them a little too precious-looking for most adults to wear. The directions for assembling the garments assume significant knowledge of clothing construction—there is no basic how-to information provided. Patterns for sizes 6-16 are included. VERDICT Though the garments themselves aren’t particularly complex, the directions aren’t very detailed; this this book is most appropriate for skilled, confident sewists or fashion/design collections.

Yosten, Angela. Stop. Go Quilt. Sew! Stash: C&T. 2012. c.110p. illus. photogs. ISBN 9781607054849. pap. $22.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Yosten’s transportation-themed designs were inspired by her son’s love of toy cars—and the lack of quilting and sewing projects appropriate for boys. Each project uses a scrap appliqué technique that incorporates strips of scrap fabric (or, optionally, pre-cut strips) and fusible web. There’s plenty of variety, including home decor items as well as quilts, a Route 66 – inspired T-shirt, and a sleeping bag. VERDICT Like the road signs they emulate, Yosten’s designs are bold and graphic, and projects targeted to school-age and teen boys are a rarity in the quilting world. These designs aren’t just for boys, though—the techniques and styles used could easily be adapted for a variety of modern scrap appliqué projects.

interior design

Soto, Sabrina. Sabrina Soto Home Design. Wiley. 2012. c.186p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781118100783. pap. $19.99. INTERIOR DESIGN

Over the years, HGTV host and designer Soto developed a systematic approach to interior design, which she has dubbed layering, to use for every client and any space. Here she shares this step-by-step process explaining the necessary considerations—such as planning and budgeting—as well as the myriad choices available for flooring, countertops, wall, and window treatments, lighting, storage, furniture, and decorative accessories. Never advocating a particular style, instead Soto encourages amateur designers to examine their own needs, likes, and desires for each room of the home, supplying close to 200 color photographs for inspiration. VERDICT Her personal, accessible approach to design as well as the practical advice given make this book highly recommended for do-it-yourselfers.