Crafts & DIY Reviews, September 15, 2012

Bellamy, David. David Bellamy’s Skies, Light and Atmosphere in Watercolour. Search, dist. by IPG. Oct. 2012. c.80p. illus. index. ISBN 9781844486779. pap. $19.95. ART INSTRUCTION

This latest guide by celebrated British watercolorist Bellamy ( David Bellamy’s Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting ) focuses on the most elusive elements of landscape painting. Each of the book’s three sections provides many examples of how light, sky, or atmosphere may be rendered in watercolors, and ends with a complete landscape step-by-step project. The book is aimed at both beginning and intermediate painters. Bellamy suggests that the effects learned here can help more experienced painters refresh an otherwise tired location. ­ VERDICT Traditional landscape watercolorists will appreciate the tips and techniques presented here.

Grebenstein, Maryanne. Calligraphy Bible: A Complete Guide to More Than 100 Essential Projects and Techniques. Watson-Guptill. 2012. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780823099344. pap. $24.99. ART INSTRUCTION

Professional calligrapher Grebenstein ( Calligraphy: A Course in Hand Lettering ) offers here a brief historical context for the origins of calligraphy but focuses on its contemporary uses. After a short introductory section on the tools and materials used in hand lettering, she presents technical illustrations, diagrams, and demonstrations to map out line and stroke sequences step-by-step. The 100-plus exercises included in the guide encourage frequent practice. Projects cover popular alphabet styles, design, color, and decorative detail that can be applied to letterheads, invitations, posters, and all sorts of artwork. ­VERDICT An excellent resource for anyone wishing to incorporate calligraphy into art or craft projects or anyone interested in hand lettering in general.

Arendoski, Emma. The Handcrafted Wedding: More than 300 Fun and Imaginative Handcrafted Ways To Personalize Your Wedding Day. Sellers. Oct. 2012. c.175p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781416206668. pap. $22.95. CRAFTS

Wedding blogger Arendoski ( takes couples through the stages of planning a wedding featuring customized, handcrafted accents. The book serves more as a collection of ideas than a how-to guide, with information on customizing every aspect of the wedding, from the basic (invitations, flowers, favors) to things usually left to professionals (clothing, food, cake). VERDICT Wedding crafts are a consistently popular category, but DIY-minded couples may be disappointed by the lack of projects in this book.

Goldschadt, Sarah. Craft-a-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects. Quirk. Oct. 2012. c.431p. photogs. ISBN 9781594745959. $24.95. CRAFTS

Paper craft and simple sewing ideas abound in graphic designer Goldschadt’s first book, which features an easy craft project for every day of the year. The projects are organized into themed weeks, many of which correspond to major holidays (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, and Christmas). Many of the projects are variations on a basic shape; the same penguin-shaped template is used to make a greeting card, a cake topper, a gift tag, and a garland. None of the projects requires skills beyond basic paper craft and simple sewing, so they are appropriate for older children as well as adults. VERDICT The projects are cute, but many of them take the same project (usually a paper shape) and add a slightly different variation, so it’s a stretch to consider them 365 different projects. Nevertheless, crafters who like charming, simple projects may enjoy this collection.

Karon, Karen. Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Techniques and Projects for Weaving with Wire. Interweave. 2012. c.144p. illus. photogs. ISBN 9781596686458. pap. $24.95. CRAFTS

Karon, a Massachusetts-based metal artist, introduces the basic supplies and weave structures involved in making chain maille jewelry. The book is organized by weave type, and each chapter includes basic instructions, variations, and jewelry projects incorporating the weave. Some chain maille jewelry projects leave the wearer looking like an extra from a fantasy movie, but Karon’s addition of beads and crystals add a more contemporary look to the classic styles. VERDICT This is an excellent introduction to the world of chain maille. Beginners should be able to teach themselves basic weaves and techniques; advanced jewelry makers can challenge themselves to learn some of the more difficult weaves, such as Jens Pind Linkage or Persian weaves.

Sheldon, Kathy. Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!: Make Stylish Shrink Plastic Jewelry. Lark Crafts: Lark Books. Oct. 2012. c.128p. illus. photogs. index. ISBN 9781454703495. pap. $21.95. CRAFTS

Children of the 1970s and ’80s may remember Shrinky Dinks—preprinted pieces of shrink plastic to color and cut out. Modern shrink plastic comes in a variety of finishes, and some plastics can be imprinted with an inkjet printer, but the preparation is the same: color, cut out, and bake until the plastic shrinks. Standout projects include whimsical paper-airplane earrings, a Liberty-esque floral-print earring and necklace set, and several minimalist pendant projects that resemble glass, rather than shrink plastic. VERDICT Gen X crafters will be intrigued by the retro raw materials, but the projects highlight all of the possibilities of shrink plastic. The pieces are eye-catching and bear little resemblance to the Shrinky Dinks of yore.

White, Ana. The Handbuilt Home: 34 Simple, Stylish & Budget-Friendly Woodworking Projects for Every Room. Potter Craft: Crown Pub. Group. Oct. 2012. c.192p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307587329. pap. $22.99. DIY

Targeting a female audience with little or no woodworking experience, White ( intends to instill confidence in her readers. Furnishing projects are arranged by room. Organization is consistent, with a chart for each project indicating the skill level, time, and costs required. Instructions are numbered to correspond with drawings, but despite promises, details on construction are lacking. Most of the projects are attractive, but those at beginning level are unimaginative. VERDICT Generally a nice collection, but beginners will need tool instruction. Pair this with Fox Chapel’s “Missing Shop Manual” series ( Table Saw: The Tool Information You Need at Your Fingertips & others). Recommended for public libraries with popular woodworking collections.

Balagna, Mary & Carol Babbitt. Quilt It with Love: The Project Linus Story; 20+ Quilt Patterns and Stories To Warm Your Heart. Lark Crafts: Lark Books. Oct. 2012. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454702948. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Founded in 1995, Project Linus is a charity that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of comfort. Balagna and Babbitt, the president and vice president, respectively, of Project Linus, share a variety of quilt patterns inspired by the organization’s work. The quilt patterns feature bright colors and simple piecing, and the stories from Project Linus participants and recipients are touching. VERDICT Charity quilting is very popular with quilt guilds and quilting bees, and Project Linus is a well-known, highly respected charity. Expect demand for this book.

Chachula, Robyn. Unexpected Afghans: Innovative Crochet Designs with Traditional Techniques. Interweave. 2012. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596682993. pap. $22.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Afghans are among the most popular crochet projects, but afghan designs often seem stuck in the 1970s. Chachula (Blueprint Crochet ) presents a series of afghan and afghan-inspired crochet patterns featuring modern designs and color palettes. Several of the designs are more streamlined than the openwork most people associate with crocheted afghans, although there are some lovely, lacy patterns as well. And yes—there’s even a granny-square design, dubbed “Mod Retro” and crocheted in a bright 1970s color scheme. Both written and charted patterns are included. VERDICT With almost 30 different projects encompassing a variety of styles and techniques, this is an excellent value.

Dixon, Anne. The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory: 400 Warp-Faced Weaves. Interweave. 2012. c.175p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596686472. pap. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Inkle weaving uses a simple loom to create warp-faced, plain-weave bands, which often become bracelets, belts, or trim for garments. Designs for inkles range from simple two-color stripes to multicolored, complex designs with a Scandinavian or Native American feel. In this collection, Dixon (The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory ) introduces weavers to the possibilities of inkle weaving, following the process from warp and weft selection to dressing the inkle loom to the weaving itself. Warping drafts and photographs of woven samples are included for each design; pattern charts are also included when needed. VERDICT Small, inexpensive looms are increasing in popularity among weavers, especially nov ices to the craft. The most recent inkle weaving books were published in the early 1980s. This is a much-needed update.

Hoey, Aneela. Little Stitches: 100+ Sweet Embroidery Designs; 12 Projects. Stash: C&T. Sept. 2012. c.152p. illus. index. ISBN 9781607055259. pap. $26.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Hoey’s name is familiar to many modern quilters—she’s one of the founders of the popular Fat Quarterly e-zine, and her fabric lines for Moda blend fairy-tale whimsy with cheery color palettes. In her first book, she applies her charming aesthetic to a variety of small-scale embroidery projects. After an introduction to basic embroidery stitches and their uses, Hoey presents a variety of projects that combine small embroidered designs with simple sewing. The motifs are interchangeable, and all are included on reusable iron-on transfers. ­ VERDICT Embroidery is gaining in popularity, especially among younger crafters. Hoey’s cute, vintage-inspired approach will appeal to novice stitchers.

Leapman, Melissa. Knitting the Perfect Fit: Essential Fully Fashioned Shaping Techniques for Designer Results. Potter Craft: Crown Pub. Group. 2012. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307586643. pap. $22.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Leapman’s (Stashbuster Knits ) latest collection focuses on fully fashioned shaping for knitwear, ensuring a flattering fit for all body types. After an introductory chapter, each of the book’s next three chapters begins with a “Designer Workshop,” which outlines specific aspects of shaping knitwear, followed by a variety of patterns. Each pattern includes symbols for the body types for which the garment is intended (all of the garments are flattering to multiple body types). Most of the patterns are suitable for advanced beginners and beyond, and the directions are clearly presented and easy to follow. VERDICT Leapman’s explanation alone of techniques for tailoring knitwear is worth the price, and the fashionable, wearable garments are a bonus. Knitters interested in moving beyond loose, boxy garments will want to take a look.

Novogratz, Robert & Cortney Novogratz with Elizabeth Novogratz. Home by Novogratz. Artisan: Workman. Oct. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781579654993. $35. INTERIOR DESIGN

The husband-and-wife design team, hosts of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz , share their design techniques while reviewing their previous commissions, including the homes of professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega. For each of the 20 projects, the Novogratzs provide before-and-after views of the space (unfortunately multiroom remodels are limited to a one-room before-and-after photo), a floor plan of the finished residence, interviews with artists and manufacturers whose work appears in the new design, a brief explanation of a how-to project, and the budget. A list of resources rounds out the information. VERDICT The do-it-yourselfer will find an abundance of inspiration in the 500-plus color photographs and will get a realistic idea of the process and cost involved in remodeling and redecorating.