Crafts & DIY Reviews | December 2013


HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Leong, Sonia. The Complete Guide to Drawing Manga. Barron’s. 2013. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781438002736. pap. $2499. ART INSTRUCTION

Leong’s (101 Top Tips from Professional Manga Artists) latest manga handbook covers the basics, such as drawing figures, creating characters, and rendering techniques, and also discusses layout and composition. Tons of detailed, step-by-step exercises will help readers learn to sketch a wide array of character types. Both traditional drawing media and digital tools are addressed throughout. The book has an accompanying website, where readers can see techniques examined here being executed. These 28 videos can be accessed on the reader’s smartphone by scanning QR codes found in the book. VERDICT This comprehensive title will appeal to comics fans of all ages.

humanParramón Eds. The Big Book of the Human Figure. Barron’s. 2013. 160p. illus. ISBN 9781438003436. pap. $22.99. ART INSTRUCTION

Sketching the nude has been a foundational mainstay of artists for centuries. The human body has played such an enduring role in visual art, in part because it is one of the best ways artists can sharpen their skills of observation. This volume’s exercises combine color photos of the posed figures with step-by-step drawings and diagrammed sketches, presenting a variety of materials and techniques. Both nude and clothed figures are covered. Readers will learn how to capture movement, proportion, and expression. VERDICT Beginning artists who want to try figure drawing for the first time will benefit the most from this guide.



Halls, Susan. Pinch Pottery: Functional, Modern Handbuilding. Lark: Sterling. Jan. 2014. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454704133. pap. $21.95. CRAFTS

Pinch pottery requires few supplies and is so basic that it’s often how ­schoolchildren first experiment with clay, but Halls, a potter and instructor whose work has been exhibited internationally, demonstrates how sophisticated objects can be created using basic techniques. The book gets right to the fun stuff—working with clay—and saves the descriptions of various clay types and ancillary tools for later. Halls presents basic material for beginner crafters, but she also includes more advanced information, especially regarding glazes and firing, for potters with some experience who want to take their craft further. Profiles of well-known practitioners who specialize in pinch pottery are interspersed throughout, and a series of small projects with full, illustrated instructions complete the package. ­VERDICT Pinch pottery is simple and accessible, and Halls gives enough direction and background to get novice potters started with hand building.

metalredstarMcGrath, Jinks. Metalsmithing for Jewelry Makers: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques for Inspirational Results. Barron’s. 2013. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780764165849. $35. CRAFTS

McGrath, an experienced jewelry maker, condenses her knowledge of metalworking methods into this comprehensive reference that covers all steps of the process from selection of tools and materials to design and creation of the finished piece. The first third of the book focuses on metals commonly used in jewelry, as well as metalworking tools. Each implement is individually photographed and discussed, allowing novices to identify easily a specific instrument, and the metals are described from both a scientific and an artistic perspective. The bulk of the volume is devoted to techniques, which are broken down into three sections: basic (including cutting, annealing, soldering, and wirework), surface treatments, and specialist (such as enameling, etching, and stone setting). Since this book is targeted toward jewelry makers who are serious about their craft, McGrath includes a section on the business of jewelry making, with practical, intelligent advice on making money out of a hobby. Some knowledge of the fundamentals is assumed; this isn’t a beginner’s book, though it would serve as an excellent resource for novices with a strong interest in learning more. VERDICT With its thorough coverage of the topic, attractive photographs, and clear instructions, this title is an excellent addition to jewelry and metalwork collections.

fabrigamiStovall, Jill & others. Fabrigami: The Origami Art of Folding Cloth To Create Decorative and Useful Objects. Tuttle. 2013. 96p. illus. ISBN 9784805312568. pap. $15.95. CRAFTS

The late Florence Temko was a master of origami and the author of numerous books on the subject. In her final work, she, educator and writer Stovall, and author and origami enthusiast Scott Stern (Outside the Box Origami), who continued work on the book after Temko died, take this craft in a new direction by using treated, stiffened fabric in place of traditional origami paper. The result relies on the many designs available with fabric (as well as the material’s durability) to make a variety of decorative objects. Projects range from traditional decorative objects such as birds and flowers to useful items, for example, a billfold, a bookmark, and several variations on boxes and containers. The authors provide hints and tips for treating fabric, as well as an inexpensive “secret formula” that can be used in place of a commercial fabric-stiffening product. The techniques will be familiar to any crafter with origami experience, and a simple overview of the basics is available. VERDICT These projects are ideal for embellishment, gift-giving, or simple home decor, and the use of fabric instead of paper will open up new possibilities for origami buffs.

do it yourself


Anderson, Steve & Alison Anderson. How To Make Maple Syrup: From Gathering Sap to Marketing Your Own Syrup. Storey. Mar. 2014. 128p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781612121710. pap. $9.95. DIY

There is nothing like the taste of real maple syrup. Third-generation syrup producer Steve Anderson and children’s book author Alison Anderson provide insights and recommendations on DIY syrup production from start to finish. While some equipment is as basic as a turkey fryer (to boil syrup), other specialized materials may be harder for beginners to obtain. Though this work is comprehensive, featuring strong descriptions of sap collection and syrup making, the shortage of illustrations will hinder novices. Rich Finzer’s Maple on Tap offers a better, more comfortable introduction to tackling small-batch syrup production for the hobbyist. Still, the authors do include a wealth of information on standards, procedures, and equipment. VERDICT Though there are shortcomings, this is a solid addition to maple syrup–making collections; recommended for locals where maple syrup production is possible.

Guagliumi, Susan. Handmade for the Garden: 75 Ingenious Ways To Enhance Your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, & More. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Mar. 2014. 208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781617690976. pap. $27.95. DIY

Guagliumi, author of many books on knitting (Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters), takes a trip to the garden with this lovely book. Chapters are arranged to follow the gardening year. Early season projects involve making newspaper cups for seedlings, seed tapes, coverings, and planting tools. Some sections are weak—the one on painting and altering terra cotta pots is a little less adventurous, and the part about making concrete containers and building plant supports lacks needed detail—while other sections shine (the areas devoted to making sieves, garden baskets, and gift seed packages are quite well done). Step-by-step illustrations are only sporadically provided, though instructions are well written. A better choice for readers learning to make concrete containers is Sherri Warner Hunter’s Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculptures & More; those seeking information on plant supports and related structures would be best served by Trellises, Planters & Raised Beds: 50 Easy, Unique, and Useful Projects You Can Make with Common Tools and Materials. VERDICT Despite some flaws, this pretty, fresh work would round out any garden project collection. Recommended.

fiber crafts


CrossStitcher Eds. Designer Cross Stitch Projects. Fox Chapel. Jan. 2014. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781574217216. pap. $16.99. FIBER CRAFTS

The UK-based magazine CrossStitcher is at the forefront of contemporary cross-stitch, and this compendium features some of the most popular patterns from its pages. The overall feel is retromodern, bold, and graphic, with a healthy helping of kitsch thrown in for good measure. Crafters who are into modern cross-stitch will recognize the designers whose work is featured in the collection, particularly Emily Peacock, Felicity Hall, and Jamie Chalmers (known primarily under his nom-de-craft, Mr. X Stitch). The projects range from tiny, retro, video game–inspired motifs (think Space Invaders and Pac-Man) to 1970s-esque gym bags to a flamingo-themed panel that screams 1980s so loudly you can hear the Miami Vice theme playing in the background. Estimated completion times are included for each project, so readers know what kind of commitment they’re in for before getting started. Full-color charts are provided, and floss colors are given in DMC, Anchor, and Madeira, allowing stitchers to choose their favorite brand. VERDICT If crafters’ Instagram activity is any indication, modern cross-stitch could be the next big thing, and there are few books featuring these kinds of designs. This compilation will add new life to cross-stitch collections.

redstarMay, Rachel. Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community. Storey. Feb. 2014. 224p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781612120638. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

In this collection, writer and crafter May profiles some of the big names in modern quilting and some quilters who are lesser known but whose work is quietly helping to redefine the possibilities of quilting. The book is divided into seven sections, each focusing on a particular aspect of modern quilting, such as improv, color, scale, or a theme (e.g., “the personal is political,” “coming full circle”). The bounty of creativity is inspiring, and the variety of quilts featured will open readers’ eyes to all of the aspects of this popular movement. There are some fantastic patterns and tutorials throughout, but what sets this work apart is its emphasis on quilt makers rather than on quilt making. VERDICT May does a marvelous job of capturing a moment in the modern quilting movement, as well as the viewpoints and opinions of the creators who have made modern quilting into an enduring form of expression. This volume belongs in all quilting collections.

interior design

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

Read, Mimi (text) & Francesco Lagnese (photos). Tom Scheerer Decorates. Vendome. 2013. 240p. photos. ISBN 9780865653054. $55. INTERIOR DESIGN

Read, a writer who has contributed to a variety of decorating publications, presents a review of recent commissions undertaken by interior designer Tom Scheerer. A casual elegance is evidenced in the interiors designed for 16 clients’ homes located in New York, Maine, Florida, and the Bahamas. Read explains Scheerer’s design approach, depicted in more than 200 color photographs, and how he accommodates his clients’ needs and wishes. A list of resources is included. VERDICT A welcome look at the work of an East Coast–based contemporary interior designer.

Salny, Stephen M. William Hodgins Interiors. Norton. Dec. 2013. 319p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393733464. $75. INTERIOR DESIGN

Salny (Michael Taylor: Interior Design) chronicles the life and work of Boston-based interior designer William Hodgins, whose work has spanned five decades. Salny describes Hodgins’s early life in Canada, his education and design work for Parish-Hadley and Michael Greer in New York City, and his move to Boston, where he began his own firm, William Hodgins Inc. In addition, the author discusses a number of Hodgins’s well-known commissions as well as his professional accolades. The highlights here are the interiors of 34 residences, shown in more than 250 color photographs that depict Hodgins’s characteristic style of light-filled rooms where colors pop against a background of white. The book concludes with an extensive list of selected clients. VERDICT A thorough review of the life and work of a preeminent interior designer.