Crafts & DIY Reviews | March 1, 2014

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Civardi, Giovanni. An Introduction to Drawing the Human Body. Search. Apr. 2014. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781844486090. pap. $24.95. ART INSTRUCTION

This guide is aimed primarily at beginners, but it nonetheless drawinghumanbody031814covers thoroughly and in-depth the process of representing the human form two-dimensionally on paper. Dozens of exercises featuring simple, illustration-style drawings with minimal text are offered, with most figures nude and drawn by the author from life in a classroom setting. Civardi also includes a short section on clothed figures. He discusses perception, anatomy, proportion, composition, how to represent movement, and various techniques. VERDICT While there is nothing revolutionary here, beginning and intermediate artists in need of review may find this guide helpful.



Bluhm, Lisa. Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories. Lark: Sterling. 2014. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781600590306. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781454708780. $17.95. CRAFTS

simplesolderedjewelry031814Bluhm, an artist who specializes in collage jewelry featuring found objects, glass, and soldered edges, introduces the basics of jewelry composition with solder and glass in this inspiring guide. The introductory project, a basic glass-and-solder pendant, takes novices through the steps of preparing glass, applying copper foil and flux, and attaching embellishments and findings. Later projects build on these techniques, demonstrate different methods for creating jewelry pieces using glass and solder, and introduce more complex mixed-media techniques. Bluhm’s enthusiasm for her topic is apparent, and her clear, heavily illustrated instructions make soldering techniques less intimidating. ­VERDICT There’s broad appeal here, not only for jewelry makers but for paper crafters who want an easy way to transform their creations into wearable art.

Jayne, Torie. How To Show & Sell Your Crafts: How To Build Your Craft Business at Home, Online, and in the Marketplace. St. Martin’s. 2014. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781250044723. pap. $22.99. crafts

Online marketplaces like Etsy have opened up a new world for crafters who want to make money from their work, and UK-based Jayne, whose aesthetic is part English country house, part “put a bird on it” quirk, enlists the help of a number of successful craft entrepreneurs for this collection of tips for making a living selling creations. Though the title is presented as a book on showing and selling crafts, it comes across as more of a lifestyle manual, with cutesy projects taking the place of practical advice. Some of Jayne’s suggestions are a little odd—does it really matter if you cover your storage boxes with floral wallpaper, or if the chair you sit in to work is “stylish”?—but her tips on branding will be helpful to those who are new to marketing their wares. Those who have already mastered the basics and are looking to take their fledgling businesses to the next level may prefer Kari Chapin’s Grow Your Handmade Business, which focuses less on making your workspace pretty and more on selling handmade goods as a livelihood. VERDICT Crafters who are just starting out may find some handy tips here, but only if they’re willing to wade through all the style-related fluff to find the nuggets of wisdom.

Pompoms. Make Your Own Cute and Easy Pompoms. Creative Pub. 2014. 96p. illus. ISBN 9781589237742. pap. $17.99. crafts

pompoms031814Most crafters are familiar with pompoms as embellishments for hats or scarves. The authors, a collective of Japanese fiber artists who call themselves Pompoms, banish the “embellishment-only” point of view with this series of whimsical projects that use creative placement of yarn and shaped trimming techniques to create pompoms featuring patterns or pictures. No specialized equipment is needed—either a piece of cardboard or a standard pompom maker will do; the magic is in the way the yarn is wrapped around the pompom maker. There’s a lot of counting involved, since the directions are given in number of wraps of each color of yarn, but the end results are surprisingly detailed. Standouts include a variety of pretty floral pompoms, as well as a pompom matryoshka set. ­VERDICT These easy projects require simple equipment and inexpensive supplies, making them appropriate for all ages.

Stocker, Blair. Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love. Running Pr. Mar. 2014. 184p. illus. index. ISBN 9780762449699. pap. $20. crafts

Stocker, author of the popular Wise Craft blog, specializes in easy-to-make crafts using repurposed materials. This collection features 60 new projects employing a variety of techniques, from hand quilting and weaving to papercraft and collage, intended to bring new life to worn-out objects. Stocker divides her projects by season, and each of the seasons includes holiday arrangements (Halloween, Christmas) as well as entries capturing the color palette and feel of a season (bold brights for summer, subdued and muted tones for fall). Few of the projects require specialized skills or knowledge, and those that do are beginner-friendly. Like most craft titles featuring upcycled or repurposed objects, the ventures can be hit or miss—taking the covers off a thrifted[?] book and using it as a trivet doesn’t require much skill or creativity—but the majority of the ideas in this book are a lot of fun. ­VERDICT Crafting via repurposed materials is an ever-popular topic, and Stocker includes plenty of thoughtful, useful, and stylish ­projects in this collection.



Peterson, Chris. Kitchen Ideas You Can Use: Inspiring Designs & Clever Solutions for Remodeling Your Kitchen. Cool Springs. 2014. 260p. illus. ISBN 9781591865902. pap. $17.99. diy

kitchenideasyoucanuse031814Forecasted hot new trends in kitchen design include more neutral countertops, open cabinetry, farmhouse influences, large lighting, and architectural fixtures. Peterson (Building with Secondhand Stuff; Manskills) presents a collection of eye candy for your fantasy kitchen. Sections focus on layout, styles, countertops, storage and cabinets, fixtures, and lighting. The photos are lovely, but some are too small and sometimes don’t best represent the targeted subject. The author’s excellent commentary accompanies each photo, making sense of the illustrations. The section on color, particularly colored appliances, is interesting and timely. ­VERDICT ­Peterson’s advice pulls this collection of photos together, but the reader will wish for more of it. Joanne Kellar Bouknight’s Taunton’s Kitchen Idea Book has more explanation and information about materials. It is important to keep a style collection ­up-to-date, though, and Peterson does offer inspiration in spades, making the book a worthwhile purchase.

Fiber Crafts


Crochet: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide. DK. Mar. 2014. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465415912. $40. fiber crafts

DK, a publisher known for heavily illustrated, full-color treatments of a variety of topics, takes on crochet in this publication, that introduces basic tools, techniques, and stitches. The first half of the book focuses on specific topics in crochet, with each presented in a full-color, multipage spread, followed by a project to reinforce the technique. For example, increases and decreases feature a triangular bunting on a single-crochet chain. The second half of the book is a collection of easy to intermediate projects employing combinations of the techniques taught earlier. The projects range from the standard granny-square and motif blankets to simple garments and toys; difficulty levels are provided. VERDICT The large hardcover format makes this book look like an encyclopedia, but it’s more of a how-to guide with projects. Still, crochet books this detailed are few and far between, and beginning crocheters who are visual learners will appreciate the straightforward directions and the pairing of techniques with projects.

Haynes, Christine. The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction. Creative: Quayside. 2014. 184p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589237773. pap. $24.99. fiber crafts

The latest in Creative Publishing’s “Complete Photo Guide” series (The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing) focuses on garment construction, a broad, often complex topic that includes everything from body measurements to fabric cutting to seam finishes. Haynes, who designs patterns for her own indie pattern line, divides the intricacies of garment construction into easily manageable steps that are organized in a logical manner from start to finish. Need to know what stay stitching looks like, or how to place and sew an invisible zipper? It’s in this guide, along with clear instructions and photographs of each step. Spreads titled “The Anatomy of a Garment” appear throughout to put the lessons in context using actual garments. VERDICT A valuable reference for garment-making novices; the layout makes it easy to find the necessary information.

Muir, Sally & Joanna Osborne. Knit Your Own Zoo: Easy-To-Follow Patterns for 24 Animals. Black Dog & Leventhal. 2014. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781579129606. pap. $14.95. fiber crafts

knityourownzoo031814Muir and Osborne (Knit Your Own Cat) return with a collection of 25 patterns for realistic knitted zoo animals, ranging from the typical (elephant, giraffe, lion) to the unusual (mandrill, fruit bat, anteater). For each project, the authors provide step-by-step written directions for knitting and finishing and a color photograph of the finished creature, as well as some basic facts about the animals. The yarn used was selected to highlight details of the animals, and the authors make good use of fuzzy mohair yarns to approximate fur, slubby tweed yarn to suggest variation of color, and rustic wool to add texture. Knowledge of inter­mediate to advanced knitting techniques, such as stranded and intarsia color­work, knitting in the round, and increasing and decreasing, is assumed, although some basic directions are provided. VERDICT Knitters looking for animal patterns that are more realistic than amigurumi will appreciate the detail in these patterns. The finished animals are suitable for play or for decoration.

Winston, Alexandra. Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science. Stash: C&T. 2014. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781607058038. pap. $23.95. fiber crafts

Winston, a math teacher, science enthusiast, and quilter, combines her passions in this collection of projects inspired by math and science. Each chapter focuses on a specific shape, including rectangles, triangles, and circles, and concentrates on using those shapes in projects inspired by scientific theories or ideas. Sometimes the inspiration is literal, as in the molecular quilt, which features a representation of a caffeine molecule; others are more figurative, such as the echo quilt, which uses half circles of varying sizes to represent sound waves. The highlight of the book is its intelligent, thorough, and accessible overview of “quilt math”—the geometry behind quilt design, piecing, and fabric cutting. Winston’s directions are technical enough to please the mathematically inclined, yet simple enough to teach those of us who haven’t thought about algebra since high school. VERDICT You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy Winston’s bold, modern designs, but quilters with a scientific background will love the inspiration behind the finished objects.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.