Crafts & DIY Reviews | February 1, 2014


HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Hodge, Susie. How To Draw People in howtodrawpeople021314Simple Steps. Search. 2014. 32p. illus. ISBN 9781844489480. pap. $9.95. ART INSTRUCTION

Readers can follow the color-coded, step-by-step sequential drawings in this simple guide to practice drawing the human figure in a variety of situations. Each exercise breaks the pose down into simple lines and shapes. Following the sequential red and blue sketch guidelines, readers can layer their lines and shading to produce finished drawings resembling the final ones shown in each exercise. VERDICT This title could be helpful and entertaining for older children, teens, and adult beginner artists, but anyone looking for more complex or in-depth tips will want to look elsewhere.



redstarBalzer, Julie Fei-Fan. Carve Stamp Play: Designing and Creating Custom Stamps. Interweave. 2013. 143p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596688865. pap. $24.99. CRAFTS

carvestampplay021314Mixed-media artist Balzer guides novices through the basics of designing, carving, and printing with art stamps in this thoughtful guide. The introductory section covers supplies and basic techniques for stamp carving and is followed by eight “workshops” focusing on specific skills using a project-based approach. Each workshop builds upon the previous one, and by the time all eight lessons have been completed, novices will have all of the necessary skills to design and carve their own stamps. A final section introduces stamp sets, repeating stamps, and interlocking stamps, which open numerous possibilities for creative design. Projects are interspersed throughout, as are expert tips on everything from avoiding fatigue while carving stamps to cleaning and storing completed creations. VERDICT Balzer makes stamp carving accessible and fun, and the workshop approach helps to build beginners’ confidence in their ability to create their own stamps. Scrapbookers, paper artists, and crafters interested in printing will find abundant inspiration and guidance in this excellent title.

DeCoster, Marcia. Marcia DeCoster Presents: Interviews with 30 Beaders on Inspiration & Technique. Lark: Sterling. Feb. 2014. 159p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454707974. pap. $26.95. CRAFTS

Master beadworker DeCoster (Marcia DeCoster’s Beads in Motion: 24 Jewelry Projects That Spin, Sway, Swing, and Slide) is a well-known author and jewelry designer. In this collection, she interviews her fellow bead artists on a variety of topics, from inspiration to favorite techniques to the role of the Internet and social media in their creative lives. Each interview includes a brief biography of the artist and large-format photographs (both full-length and detail shots) of representative works. The highlight for most readers will be the gallery of each designer’s projects, which demonstrate the exciting variety of styles and techniques used in contemporary beadwork. There are no projects in the book, so those interested in how-tos will be better off consulting one of DeCoster’s other works. VERDICT Beaders looking for projects may be disappointed, but there’s still plenty of innovation to be found here. Purchase where similar titles, such as Lark’s “Showcase” series, are popular.

redstarPigza, Jessica. BiblioCraft: The Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects. Abrams. Mar. 2014. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781617690969. $27.50. CRAFTS

Pigza, a rare-books librarian at the New York bibliocraft021414Public Library, connects her two passions—libraries and crafting—in this collection of book-inspired craft projects. Each project uses books and library collections (often vintage) as a jumping-off point, turning things as commonplace as marbled endpapers into a pretty sewn pouch or drawing inspiration from children’s book illustrations for a fanciful child’s dress. Photographs of the primary sources that provided ideas for the projects are incorporated, allowing crafters to see the “ancestry” of each item. Pigza has assembled quite the cast of crafting luminaries, such as Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing), Liesl Gibson (Oliver + S Little Things To Sew), and Heather Ross (Heather Ross Prints), and these varied projects include everything from sewing and embroidery to papercraft. Copyright issues relating to craft making—a frequent cause of heated arguments in crafting communities—are concisely and intelligently covered, and there’s plenty of material on types of libraries and ways to use libraries as a source of creativity and information. VERDICT Though bibliophiles and fans of libraries will be drawn in by the theme of the book, crafters who haven’t visited a library since childhood will be thrilled with the wealth of talented artists whose projects are featured. (Bibliophiles will also be pleased that no books are harmed in the making of these crafts.) [See author Q&A, p. 74.—Ed.]

do it yourself


Frauenfelder, Mark. Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. New Harvest. May 2014. 240p. illus. ISBN 9780544114548. pap. $20. DIY

Dads have been the focus of many project books for kids over the past few years. Here, Frauenfelder—blogger, editor of MAKE magazine, and author—tries his hand at two dozen projects, with his young daughters in mind (though the projects are not traditionally “girly”). General supplies and a difficulty rating for each project are listed. The wide range of ideas (everything from jewelry, puzzles, candy, and soap to electronic and computer projects such as a drawbot, computer games, and speakers) seems haphazard and a little forced. Instructions are accompanied by clear, step-by-step illustrations of construction. VERDICT This collection is rather specialized, with the electronics projects a bit difficult. While the directions are helpful, the projects lack cohesion and creativity. For daddy projects that really have kid appeal, turn instead to Scott Bedford’s Made by Dad. Frauenfelder’s book lacks the pop and sparkle needed. An optional purchase only.

fiber crafts


Allaho, Shelby & Ellen Gormley (text) & Nancy J.S. Langdon (photos). Crocheting Clothes Kids Love. Creative. Feb. 2014. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589237810. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

crochetingclotheskidslove021314Most crochet books for children focus on babies and toddlers, so award-winning designer Allaho and crafter Gormley (Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook) decided to tackle clothes for a different group: children age six to 12. The collection features garments, including winter wear, and small accessories that take advantage of the lacy and whimsical motifs common in crochet. The projects are appropriate for crocheters of a variety of skill levels, and each one contains step-by-step written directions and full explanations of any special stitches used. Adults may even want some of the accessories for themselves, especially the pompom-studded caravan scarf, a cozy, shawl-like wrap that would suit grown-ups as well as it does youngsters. Allaho and Gormley include patterns for both boys and girls in the collection, and those aimed at boys are more than just token hats and scarves. VERDICT The unique emphasis will appeal to crocheters whose little ones have aged out of the baby and toddler patterns, and children in the target age group will enjoy wearing these designs.

Carestio, Amanda. Never Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew Projects. Lark: Sterling. Feb. 2014. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454704218. pap. $17.95. FIBER CRAFTS

neverbeenstitched021314Carestio (Fa La La La Felt) believes that fabric obsession isn’t only for expert sewists. This collection of no-sew and low-sew projects takes a variety of materials, from quilting cottons to recycled clothing to paper maps, and transforms them into garments and accessories appropriate for everyday use. Upcycling is a recurring theme in the projects, and Carestio makes clever use of repurposed fabrics and garments. The projects that work best are the designs for children, such as the colorful sock monsters, the pencil roll made out of wool felt, and the teddy bear backpack. Many of the fashion projects come across as odd—the deconstructed T-shirt with hand-tied sides and the skirt made out of curtains would be difficult for most women to pull off. VERDICT Fashion missteps aside, this is a fun set of projects that fills a gap in crafting collections, and though the upcycling trend seems to be on the wane, it’s still a popular topic.

Interior design

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

Jennings, Mar. Life on Mar’s: Creating Casual Luxury. Midpoint. 2013. 151p. photos. ISBN 9780578120829. $19.95. INTERIOR DESIGN

lifeonmars021314Jennings (Life on Mar’s A Four Season Garden), who has dispensed his design advice on HGTV and QVC, takes the reader on a tour of his Connecticut home to illustrate his design aesthetic of “casual luxury.” Showing off every room of his house, as well as the garden, through 200-plus beautiful photographs, Jennings describes how he creates a timeless and comfortable look. Throughout, he adds design tips while adhering to his six design principles (represent Mother Nature, embrace light and reflection, incorporate natural materials and colors, repurpose, repeat shapes and patterns, and consider size and scale). A downloadable worksheet at the conclusion of the book is a useful tool to evaluate one’s own abode. VERDICT Given the practical advice here, as well as Jennings’s renown as a lifestyle expert, this book will be helpful for do-it-yourselfers.