Crafts & DIY Reviews | September 1, 2013


HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Kuo, Julia. 20 Ways To Draw a Cat and 44 Other Awesome Animals: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers. ISBN 9781592538386.

Renouf, Eloise. 20 Ways To Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers. ISBN 9781592538379.

ea. vol: Quarry: Quayside. (20 Ways). 2013. 96p. illus. pap. $19.99. ART INSTRUCTION

This series takes a novel, minimalist approach to art instruction. Each “20 Ways” title provides 45 spreads that are each filled with 20 small drawings on a given theme. Readers will find no step-by-step exercises here; however, each spread offers a variety of styles and techniques. Drawings range from the realistic to the cartoonish to the decorative, with a few rendered in color. The variety of drawing types is intended to inspire readers to experiment on their own. Aspiring artists can either copy drawings directly from the books or create their own variations on a theme. The latest two volumes in the series focus on nature and animals. 20 Ways To Draw a Tree presents many sophisticated, modern drawings of plants and flowers, executed with a surprising array of materials. Despite the title, 20 Ways To Draw a Cat includes all sorts of animals, such as hedgehogs, buffalo, fish, and zebras. VERDICT While Tree will appeal to teens or adult readers, Cat is most appropriate for younger audiences.



Country Living Spooky & Bright. Hearst: Sterling. Sept. 2013. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781618370761. spiral. $12.95. CRAFTS

Halloween’s popularity among crafters is second only to Christmas—and growing fast. The assortment of craft projects described here includes the expected (lots of decorated, carved, and embellished pumpkins), the odd (a wreath made of glow-in-the-dark rubber eyeballs), and the downright creepy (faux-aged family photos with red LEDs in place of eyes). The directions are bare-bones, but readers who are comfortable wielding a craft knife and using a paintbrush should be able to handle these projects. Crafters will also find Halloween decorating tips and a selection of party-ready recipes here. VERDICT Those looking to bring some handmade flair to their Halloween parties may find inspiration in this collection.

DeCoster, Marcia. Marcia DeCoster’s Beads in Motion: 24 Jewelry Projects That Spin, Sway, Swing, and Slide. Lark: Sterling. (Jewelry & Beading Bead Inspirations). 2013. 127p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454703358. pap. $27.95. CRAFTS

In her second book, DeCoster (Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence: Elegant Jewelry Projects with Right Angle Weave) focuses on beaded jewelry projects that emphasize movement. The projects use a variety of stitches and techniques, including right-angle weave and its variants, peyote stitch, herringbone stitch, and netting. VERDICT Experienced beadworkers with a taste for intricate jewelry will find an abundance of exciting projects in this collection of attention-grabbing statement pieces.

Hood, Vic & Jack A. Williams. Extreme Pumpkin Carving: 20 Amazing Designs from Frightful to Fabulous. 2d ed. Fox Chapel. Sept. 2013. 103p. illus. ISBN 9781565238060. pap. $14.99. CRAFTS

Woodcarvers Hood and Williams take on pumpkin carving in this how-to guide. The first section, via step-by-step photographs, explores rudimentary techniques using basic carving knives or woodcutting tools. The level of detail is extraordinary, as is the effort that the carvers have put into their work. The second section presents a gallery of intricately carved pumpkins by a variety of artists, along with information about each carving and further hints for working with pumpkins large and small. VERDICT These aren’t your everyday jack-o’-lanterns but elaborate and complex pieces of art. Woodcarvers and sculptors interested in a different medium will enjoy exploring the methods described here.

do it yourself


redstarBrown, Amanda. Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design. Storey. Oct. 2013. 400p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612121376. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781603429030. DIY

Brown, a professional upholsterer in Austin, TX, knows how to breathe life into tired old furnishings. Her style is hip, eclectic, and delightful, and she injects her personality into the projects, showing off her upholstery prowess. Brown rounds out the manual by offering interior design options. Accompanying photographs demonstrate technique and illustrate each step. Readers will find information on skills requiring more detail, such as sewing and stripping furniture, in the appendixes. ­VERDICT Though the author only covers five projects—a sofa, an ottoman, and three chairs—she does so in such great depth that quality wins out over quantity. Upholstering is for the brave, and there are a lot of specialty tools here that might intimidate would-be DIYers. Despite these limitations, this is a wonderfully readable volume that speaks to current style. Very highly recommended for any DIY collection.

Reed, David. The Complete Guide to Stonescaping: Dry-Stacking, Mortaring, Paving & Gardenscaping. Lark: Sterling. Sept. 2013. 216p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454703877. pap. $24.95. DIY

Stonemason and instructor Reed highlights the use of stone in outdoor spaces. This compilation of two of the author’s earlier books (The Art and Craft of ­Stonescaping: Setting & Stacking Stone and The Art & Craft of Stonewood: Dry-Stacking, Mortaring, Paving, Carving, Gardenscaping) includes a thorough introduction to stone varieties, as well as an impressive array of photos illustrating walkways, walls, and garden structures. Reed covers the basics, giving troubleshooting hints and stoneworking tips throughout and providing step-by-step details for a few projects. VERDICT Though the projects aren’t numerous, the gorgeous stonework is a useful source of inspiration. Because this title is aimed at intermediate DIYers, readers may benefit from also consulting Pat Sagui’s Landscaping with Stone, 2d ed, as it has more handholding for beginners. Handy for garden enthusiasts and home improvement devotees alike; highly recommended.

fiber crafts


Bull, Jane. Crafty Creatures. DK. 2013. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465409140. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781465417992. FIBER CRAFTS

This colorful collection combines instructions for hand-sewing, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, and needlepoint to make soft toy animals in a variety of shapes and sizes. Crafters can create creatures that are as fun and fanciful (or realistic) as desired, from knitted teddy bears to cat-toy-size mice to cross-stitched or needlepoint pet portraits. The necessary supplies are easily obtained, and users can pick and choose elements from different projects to produce soft toys customized to specific tastes. The final chapter includes a brief introduction to the skills needed to make these cuddly creations. VERDICT The techniques and projects will appeal to those who enjoy making soft toys, and the directions are simple enough for crafters of all ages.

Conner, Lindsay. Modern Bee: 13 Quilts To Make with Friends. Stash. Sept. 2013. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781607057307. pap. $23.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Online quilting bees are popular among modern quilters, and this collection of 12 quilt patterns that emerged from the yearlong Mod Stitches Bee features designs that fall squarely within the modern-traditionalist style. Quilters familiar with the modern quilting blogosphere will recognize several of the designers, including Elizabeth Dackson, Jeni Baker, and Sukie Newbold, all of whom sell or share their patterns online. The projects include modern takes on log cabin, snowball, drunkard’s path, and star blocks, as well as a string-pieced circle block that looks much tougher to make than it actually is. Tips for piecing, quilting, and starting and running a virtual quilting bee are interspersed throughout. VERDICT Those who enjoy quilts that bring modern flair to traditional blocks will enjoy this compendium of beginner-to-intermediate patterns.

Plumley, Amie Petronis & Andria Lisle. Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing; 20 Projects Kids Will Love To Make. Storey. 2013. 159p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612120492. $18.95. FIBER CRAFTS

This sequel to Sewing School focuses on teaching children and preteens how to use a sewing machine to create fun and quirky projects. The kid-friendly ideas included here are easy to cut and sew, making them virtually frustration proof, and the samples pictured use colorful and whimsical fabrics that will attract children. Each project lists step-by-step instructions complemented by photographs that clearly depict how each step should look. Additionally, there are plenty of images of children sewing (mostly girls, though there are a few boys mixed in), along with advice from young sewists. ­VERDICT While children are the target audience, adult beginners may appreciate the pleasant tone and accessible projects. Grown-ups will find as well many useful tips for helping young people who are interested in sewing. Readers may also enjoy Sara Trail’s Sew with Sara: PJs, Pillows, Bags & More; Fun Stuff To Keep, Give, Sell!

Sixth & Spring Books, Eds. 50 Knitted Gifts for Year-Round Giving: Designs for Every Season and Occasion Featuring Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted. Sixth & Spring. 2013. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781936096565. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Many knitters enjoy making and giving knitted gifts, and this collection features many different patterns for accessories appropriate for a variety of occasions, from the usual (Mother’s Day, Christmas) to the unexpected (St. Patrick’s Day, back to school). The majority of the patterns are beginner-friendly knits that can be made in a single weekend, though there are a few afghan projects that are longer-term endeavors. Though all of the patterns use a specific brand of yarn, knitters can substitute their favorite worsted weight yarn as needed. Readers will find basic tips on technique at the end of the book, but the coverage is not comprehensive; novices may want to supplement with other material if this is their first attempt at some of the advanced methods such as colorwork or knitted lace. VERDICT Patterns for knitted gifts are popular, and this title contains an assortment of techniques, styles, and themes.

Weiss, Rita & Susan Lowman. Complete Guide to Symbol Crochet. Leisure Arts. 2013. 97p. illus. ISBN 9781464712081. pap. $9.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Though crochet symbols, or standardized representations of various stitches, are common outside the United States, many American crocheters are unfamiliar with them. As the global crochet community expands and crafters gain access to non-English patterns, the ability to read crochet charts is becoming more helpful. This title provides a key to the symbols used in patterns, as well as a selection of familiar patterns presented in both written and charted format. Each symbol is accompanied by a guide that clearly breaks down how to form the stitch. VERDICT Crochet charts can be daunting, but Weiss and Lowman shed light on the subject in a straightforward, concise fashion, allowing users to build confidence in reading and interpreting charted patterns.

interior design

GAYLE A. WILLIAMSON, Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

Guild, Tricia (text) & James Merrell (photos). Tricia Guild: Decorating with Color. Rizzoli. Oct. 2013. 208p. photos. ISBN 9780847840694. $50. INTERIOR DESIGN

Guild, the founder of international home and lifestyles company Designers Guild and author of numerous titles on design and color (Tricia Guild on Color; Think Color: Rooms To Live In), focuses here on using color in residential interiors. There are close to 400 photographs grouped by color, displaying bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, artists’ studios, and more. In addition, interspersed throughout are images of nature, textiles, buildings, paintings, and fashion, which serve as inspiration boards, a feature not seen in Guild’s other books. ­VERDICT This volume will give amateurs and professionals a wealth of ideas for their own homes and commissions.

Rowan, Gerald. Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes. Storey. Oct. 2013. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612121024. pap. $19.95. INTERIOR DESIGN

Rowan (Compact Cabins: Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less) has renovated more than 60 small dwellings. Here, he shares his experience and offers advice for homeowners interested in constructing or remodeling small houses. There are 50 floor plans shown for buildings ranging from 800 to 1400 square feet, with another six floor plans that showcase energy-efficient and sustainable homes. In addition, Rowan presents before and after floor plans for residences that have been renovated. He is quick to point out that readers will need expert assistance from architects or contractors in order to see the results of these designs. Rowan also supplies a wealth of information on design for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, basements, storage needs, and landscaping, once again highlighting energy-efficiency and sustainability. VERDICT Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, homeowners looking to downsize will find plenty of ideas here.