Crafts & DIY Reviews | September 15, 2013


HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

redstar Leong, Sonia. 101 Top Tips from Professional Manga Artists. Barron’s. 2013. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781438002064. pap. $22.99. ART INSTRUCTION

Manga, the popular form of comics drawing that originated in Japan, relies as heavily on bold graphic elements as it does on classical illustration. Freelance comic artist and illustrator Leong and several contributing artists provide over 100 tips grouped and organized around basic topics, highlighting key aspects of manga such as character design, backgrounds, props, software and media, and even practices of successful professionals. VERDICT Leong has written one of the most well-rounded, inclusive resources available on the subject.

Parramon Eds. Drawing for Painters. Barron’s. (Pocket Art Guides). 2013. 95p. tr. from Spanish. illus. ISBN 9780764165764. $9.99. ART INSTRUCTION

The primary goal of editors Gabriel Martín Roig and Michael Brunelle here is to help painters hone their drawing skills. The three main sections (on the techniques of drawing, on subjects, and on converting drawings into paintings) are comprised of a series of exercises. Throughout, process photos display an artist’s hand executing the different techniques, and sidebars connect particular projects to various well-known artists, such as Vincent van Gogh. VERDICT Recommended for intermediate and advanced artists wishing to improve their painting skills.



Domesek, Erica. P.S.—You’re Invited…: 40+ DIY Projects for All of Your Fashion, Home Décor & Entertaining Needs. Atria. Sept. 2013. 154p. photos. ISBN 9781451698596. $26. CRAFTS

In her second DIY collection, blogger and television personality Domesek (P.S.—I Made This…) focuses on party-themed items. Projects range from innocuously cutesy to borderline tasteless (e.g., “Mexican”-style crafts that reinforce some questionable stereotypes). Many involve gluing embellishments to clothing and accessories. Though it doesn’t take much guidance to attach a piece of lace to an old pair of pumps, the emphasis here is on the Etsy-style, artsy photos rather than the directions, so craft at your own risk. VERDICT There’s nothing fresh or unique here; crafters will find multiple variations on these ideas for free online. Better books about fashion upcycling or green crafts include Jenni Radosevich’s I Spy DIY Style: Find Fashion You Love and Do It Yourself, Selena Francis-Bryden’s DIY Fashion: Customize and Personalize, or those by Danny Seo.

Tarantino, Tarina. The Sparkle Factory: The Design and Craft of Tarina’s Fashion Jewelry and Accessories. Running Pr. 2013. 271p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762446896. pap. $23. CRAFTS

The cover photograph of celebrity jewelry designer Tarantino will give readers a good idea as to whether her aesthetic suits their tastes. Those whose reaction to her candy-pink hair and bright, oversize, kitschy jewelry is “I love it!” will enjoy this book, while those who think it looks like the aftermath of an unfortunate incident in a costume jewelry factory aren’t the intended audience. Tarantino provides a peek at the steps she took to get her business off the ground, the places she looks to for ideas, and simple projects that reflect her fun-loving credo. The photography is gorgeous; even the images of basic supplies look like still lifes with rhinestones. Furthermore, the projects themselves are easy enough for most crafters to attempt successfully. VERDICT Part collection of projects, part feel-good inspiration, Tarantino’s print debut will appeal to those who believe that there’s no such thing as too much sparkle.

do it yourself


redstar Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Cabinets & Countertops: How To Customize Your Home with Cabinetry. Quarry: Quayside. (Black & Decker Complete Guide). Sept. 2013. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781591865896. pap. $24.99. DIY

Great organization is the hallmark of this series, and this title is no exception. The book begins with instructions on cabinetry, starting with easier-to-install stock cabinetry and tips and recommendations for selecting products and removing old cabinetry. The second section pairs cabinets with countertops. DIYers will find a wealth of information here. The projects are well organized, with lists of necessary materials, and a helpful introduction explains the use of basic tools. The illustrations are useful, too: step-by-step instructions are accompanied by clear photos, and the projects feature exploded-view drawings with cutting lists. Some projects have been directly copied from Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Kitchens, 3d ed. The glamour shots have been updated, and the installation of recycled-paper countertops is new. VERDICT Overall, this is a solid manual for most homeowners with the tools and know-how to tackle such projects. Very strongly recommended.

Lidström, Clara. Vintage Crafts: 75 Do-It-Yourself Decorating Projects Using Candles, Colors, and Other Flea Market Finds. Skyhorse. Oct. 2013. 144p. tr. from Swedish. illus. index. ISBN 9781626361034. $17.95. DIY

Popular Swedish blogger Lidström ­( presents an array of craft and DIY projects for the home, with the occasional recipe thrown in. Released in 2012 in Swedish, this translation starts with a pep talk on creating and crafting. Displaying a unique style that’s part Scandinavian and part shabby chic, Lidström features some of her online projects here, which focus on furniture do-overs, lighting, storage, sewing, and upholstery. A section on navigating flea markets contains great tips that readers from all countries will enjoy. VERDICT There are a few flaws here. Beginners may not find this title helpful owing to the lack of instruction: not all projects show what the finished product looks like, and there are no step-by-step illustrations of technique. Some of the materials, resources, and terminology are specific to Sweden or Europe. However, Lidström is a fresh voice and clearly enthusiastic, and the look and feel of some of her projects may resonate with those looking for something new.

Nagel, Vanessa Gardner. The Professional Designer’s Guide to Garden Furnishings. Timber. 2013. 308p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604692938. $34.95. DIY

Professional landscape designer and author Nagel (Understanding Garden Design) focuses here on how to use appropriate, stylish furniture to enhance an outdoor space. She offers a historical look at furniture design, with a nod to ergonomics, as well as a general overview of garden types. She also briefly discusses material and manufacturing standards. Chapters are arranged by furniture material (e.g., “Wood,” “Metal,” “Textiles,” etc.) and highlight strengths and weaknesses of each. Beautiful photographs enliven the text throughout. VERDICT This book is an aid and inspiration for design professionals and students of the field. Considerations for outdoor furnishing purchases are clearly broken down. The list of resources Nagel provides is valuable, no matter the skill level of the reader. Recommended.

fiber crafts


Amish Quilts: The Adventure Continues; Featuring 21 Projects from Traditional to Modern. C&T Pub. ed. by Lynn Koolish. Oct. 2013. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781607057918. pap. $27.95. FIBER CRAFTS

The use of solid fabrics and the focus on geometric designs make Amish and Amish-style quilts appealing to both traditional and modern quilters. Published in honor of C&T Publishing’s 30th anniversary, this compilation revisits the subject of An Amish Adventure, the company’s first title. Though many of the quilts here are not made by the Amish and don’t strictly follow the Amish way of design, the emphasis on solids and the intricate technique (often by machine, here, instead of by hand) are typical of Amish tradition. There’s also plenty of information about color; because only solids are used, the colors, rather than the prints, provide the visual interest. VERDICT The Amish way of life is fascinating to many, and this exploration of Amish quilting traditions through contemporary fabrics will appeal to quilters of all styles.

Hoffman, Allison. AmiguruME: Make Cute Crochet People. Lark: Sterling. Oct. 2013. 128p. photos. index. ISBN 9781454703976. pap. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

You don’t have to be famous to have a doll made in your likeness—all you need is a crochet hook and some yarn, and you can do it yourself. Designer Hoffman made a name for herself by creating crocheted likenesses of pop culture personalities (her most famous was Conan O’Brien) in the amigurumi style, or the Japanese art of knitting small dolls or animals. Here, she presents a road map for crocheters who want to make their own custom dolls. Choose from a variety of head shapes, facial characteristics, ­hairstyles, and fashions, using yarn in the appropriate colors. Photos of a number of Hoffman’s celebrity creations are interspersed throughout. The directions are basic enough for confident beginners, and an introduction to the crochet stitches commonly employed in amigurumi is provided. VERDICT This is a fun new twist on the amigurumi trend, and crocheters will enjoy creating yarn-based likenesses of their favorite celebrities or their families and friends.

Huang, Jackie. Woolbuddies: 20 Irresistibly Simple Needle Felting Projects. Chronicle. Oct. 2013. 112p. photos. ISBN 9781452114408. $18.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Wool felting is surprisingly easy; all crafters need to get started is a felting needle, a piece of soft foam to use as a felting pad, and some colorful scraps of wool roving. Huang, who began felting so he could make toys for his daughter, has a background in animation, which is apparent in the expressive faces of his creations. The projects are arranged by level of difficulty (simple, moderate, and challenging), and full instructions are presented along with accompanying photographs. Beginners will appreciate the introduction, which provides the basics in a clear, concise, easy-to-follow manner. VERDICT There are many felting books that focus on creating small animal toys, but few contain projects with as much verve as those in this book. Felters will love making these little woolbuddies, and children will enjoy playing with them.

Robson, Deborah & Carol Ekarius. The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds and How To Use Their Fibers. Storey. 2013. 231p. photos. index. ISBN 9781612121789. pap. $14.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Robson and Ekarius (coauthors, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun) pack a wealth of content about sheep and wool into this guide. Along with each sheep breed listed, from the well known (Merino, Corriedale) to the rare (Santa Cruz, Castlemilk Moorit), the authors supply color photographs of the sheep and of a lock of its wool. Specifications helpful for spinners, such as staple length, fiber diameter, fleece weight, and effects of dyes, are also provided. Knitters and weavers will find the suggested uses for each breed’s wool valuable, as some wools lend themselves to specific types of garments or accessories. VERDICT This pocket-size guide is perfect for spinners and other fiber enthusiasts who want quick information on the characteristics of a wide variety of fleeces and would be a worthwhile book to have on hand at a fiber festival.

Wehrle, Melissa. Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style. Interweave. 2013. 159p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596687783. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Fashion Institute of Technology grad and knitwear designer Wehrle was inspired by the urban landscape of New York City for her first book-length collection of knitting patterns. The focus is on sweaters of a variety of styles, from button-up cardigans to cozy pullovers, with a few accessories added in for good measure. The projects generally use high-end, luxury yarns, and the patterns include attractive details such as lace patterns, chunky cables, and waist and bust shaping. Written and charted directions are provided for all lace and cable designs, and most of the sweaters list directions for a generous range of sizes, from extra small to XXL and beyond. VERDICT Intermediate-level knitters who enjoy fashionable everyday garments will gravitate toward this title.

interior design

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

Osofsky, Joan & Abby Adams. Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country. Rizzoli. Sept. 2013. 224p. photos. ISBN 9780847840069. $50. INTERIOR DESIGN

Retailer and style expert Osofsky (founder, Hammertown Barn) and author Adams (The Gardener’s Gripe Book) visit 18 houses located in the Northeastern United States, including their own, that exemplify the casual, relaxed decorating approach fostered in Osofsky’s lifestyle stores. Most of the homeowners are writers, artists, designers, or other creative professionals and have used their talents to design interiors that reflect their tastes and lifestyles. More than 200 color photographs depict newly constructed, modern dwellings and restored or remodeled older homes, providing a refreshing look at the use of country style. VERDICT The popularity of country style, with its eclectic mix of furnishings and decorative accessories, shows no sign of waning, and this volume will give both amateurs and professionals additional inspiration.