Sharpie Art, Arm Candy, Deck Construction, Handmade Interiors, & More | Crafts & DIY Reviews, September 1, 2015

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Doh, Jenny. More Creative Lettering: Techniques & Tips from Top Artists. Lark: Sterling. 2015. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454708926. pap. $19.95. ART INSTRUCTION

This guide can be of much use to anyone, especially beginning artists and designers wishing to express themselves visually by hand. Sophisticated drawing skills are not essential for the short projects presented. More experienced artists can also benefit from the many novel ideas found here. Creative lettering need not involve a heavy investment in tools or materials, but Doh (Creative Lettering; Craft-a-Doodle) does describe a few of the more esoteric supply choices in the basics section of the book. Readers are also treated to an anatomy lesson on letters, informed of lettering vocabulary, and given a quick introduction to lettering techniques. The projects are all displayed by various artists, each with their own distinct style. Readers may skip freely about the guide, trying designs in whatever order suits their interest. Projects include step-by-step instructions, as well as images of the complete objects. VERDICT With lots of practical and creative applications, this book can be appreciated by a wide range of audiences.

Goodman, Timothy. Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques & Ideas for Transforming Your World. Rockport: Quarto. 2015. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781631590481. pap. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781627883672. ART INSTRUCTION

sharpieart9215This lively manual pays tribute to the ubiquitous, universal, and highly user-friendly Sharpie marker. Many readers will be surprised to learn that there are dozens of types of Sharpie available today, which Goodman (design, Sch. of Visual Arts; coauthor, 40 Days of Dating) delineates in the introduction. A clever history of the marker, rendered in Sharpie, introduces the guide included in the introduction. The heart of the guide is the many short creativity exercises that are meant to inspire readers to try new things and surprise themselves. Various artists share their own Sharpie experiments, with lots of tips and intriguing ideas thrown in along the way. These permanent markers can be used on almost anything, giving the reader the sense of open-ended possibility and immediacy. VERDICT This title holds wide appeal for young, mature, beginner, and seasoned artists alike.



Haab, Sherri. Charm Love Friendship Bracelets: 35 Unique Designs with Polymer Clay, Macramé, Knotting, and Braiding. Quarry: Quarto. 2015. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631590436. pap. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781627883207. CRAFTS

The traditional braided or knotted friendship bracelet serves as a jumping-off point for the designs in Haab’s (Beaded Macrame Jewelry; The Art of Resin Jewelry) latest jewelrymaking book, but the focus is on handmade charms using polymer clay. After an introductory section presenting methods for beading, weaving, and knotting thread or cord, Haab demonstrates a variety of projects: whimsical charm bracelets featuring animals, seashells, or sugar skulls; casual costume jewelry with beads and crystals set in polymer clay; and sophisticated pieces inspired by nature. Polymer clay techniques, including simple wirework, molded clay charms, canework, and sculpture, are provided, in addition to a number of finishing styles. While some of the simpler projects are beginner-friendly, others are best attempted by crafters with some experience working with polymer clay. The written directions are thorough, and close-up photographs of key steps help guide crafters to a successful outcome. VERDICT Despite the title, these aren’t the embroidery floss “friendship bracelets” most crafters think of—for those, see Laura Strutt’s Arm Candy (reviewed below). Yet crafters who are interested in combining polymer clay with braided or knotted fibers will find solid ideas in this collection.

Strutt, Laura. Arm Candy: Friendship Bracelets To Make and Share. Barron’s. 2015. 96p. illus. index. ISBN 9781438007151. pap. $9.99. CRAFTS

Friendship bracelets—simple woven, braided, or knotted accessories made from inexpensive embroidery floss—are charmingly retro and surprisingly timeless. While the classic woven friendship bracelet features prominently on the cover, this collection by craft designer Strutt (Arm and Finger Knitting) contains a variety of easy-to-make bracelets using inexpensive supplies that can be found at most big box craft stores. The projects feature simple instructions with ample photographs to guide novices through the process. With styles ranging from classic (the aforementioned chevron friendship bracelet) to contemporary (a chunky wooden bangle decorated with washi tape), there’s plenty of clever ideas here. VERDICT Children of the 1980s will wax nostalgic over some of the projects, such as the bracelet made of safety pins adorned with seed beads (we called those “frienship pins” back in the mid-1980s), but today’s tweens and teens will appreciate the contemporary takes on DIY bracelets.



Grice, Scott & John Ross. Decks Complete: Expert Advice from Start to Finish. Taunton. 2015. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781621130116. pap. $21.95. DIY

deckscomplete9215With the sad occurrence of deck collapse in recent news, we’re reminded that a well-constructed and -maintained structure is vital. Grice, a builder out of Portland, OR, and Ross, a carpenter and photographer, pull together a detailed deck-construction manual. With a quick nod to deck design and outdoor living, general construction and assembly is the strength of this book. All facets of construction are covered, from site prep to finishing and maintenance. Tool use and materials are addressed meticulously, and scattered tips, such as when to rent equipment rather than buy, and how to handle building solo, are highly beneficial. Fantastic photos are paired with clear step-by-step instructions. VERDICT This excellent, comprehensive instructional manual offers in-depth how-to; construction details are well explained and nicely illustrated. If you’re looking for inspirational photos and innovative features, try Peter Jeswald’s Deck Ideas That Work or Ultimate Guide: Decks by the editors of Creative Homeowner.

Fiber Crafts


750 Knitting Stitches: The Ultimate Knit Stitch Bible. Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2015. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781250067180. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS

Though knitted fabric is mainly comprised of two simple stitches—knit and purl—there’s plenty of variation. This stitch dictionary by UK publisher Pavilion Books is organized by construction and features fabrics created using knit and purl stitches, cable and Aran stitches, lace and eyelet stitches, and colorwork stitches, as well as a section on knitted edgings and trims. Written instructions are included for all stitch patterns, and charted directions accompany many of the cabled and colorwork patterns—but not the lace patterns, which is an odd omission. A close-up, full-color swatch is also included for each design, giving the knitter an idea of what multiple pattern repeats look like in a knitted sample. A directory of basic knitting abbreviations and a guide to knitting elementals appear in the introduction. VERDICT Stitch dictionaries are an essential component of the knitter’s library, and while this one isn’t quite at the level of Barbara G. Walker’s classic four-volume series, it’s a quality addition to any knitting collection.

Buck, Marny & Jill Guffy. Quilts du Jour: Make it Your Own with à la Carte Blocks & Settings. Stash: C&T. Sept. 2015. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781617450716. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS

In their first book, coauthors Buck and Guffy, founders of quilting blog Modern Quilt Relish, deliver six modern quilt blocks, along with numerous ideas for transforming them via different settings, sizes, and layouts. The authors use a food theme to tie their blocks together—all of the blocks and projects are named after something food-related, and the directions are called recipes. The blocks are presented in two sizes—an eight-inch size and a 16-inch size. The eight-inch size is used in six different pillow projects as well as several of the quilt projects, and the 16-inch in the quilt projects. The introduction includes inventive ideas for using two rulers to cut large pieces of fabric, a technique that is helpful given the amount of negative space in the projects, and the quilt block instructions are easy to follow. Their style is bold and graphic, featuring large geometric shapes and creative use of color and pattern. Even if Buck and Guffy’s minimalist style isn’t your thing, their guide to quilt block settings, which includes everything from the standard grid setting to asymmetrical styles such as the radiating setting, is helpful. Each setting includes sketches of the four basic quilt sizes (baby, crib, throw, and queen) with measurement guides and suggestions for block placement. VERDICT The food theme is somewhat forced—“Glycemic Index” is a pretty unappealing name for a quilt pattern—but modern quilters with a taste for minimalism and asymmetry will enjoy Buck and Guffy’s twists and turns on their six basic blocks.

Gibson, Amy. For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living. Lucky Spool. 2015. 136p. illus. ISBN 9781940655079. pap. $26.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Gibson, a popular quilting instructor, focuses on quilting for use and enjoyment in this delightful collection. The 16 projects are divided into two categories: “Memory Makers,” projects designed to make new memories, including a quilt designed for a family movie night and a comfy pillow with pockets to hold books; and “Memory Keepers,” projects designed to preserve memories, such as a quilt featuring vintage handkerchiefs and a quilt incorporating family photographs printed onto fabric. An introduction provides a concise overview of quilting basics, along with tips that seasoned quilters may find helpful as well. Gibson’s expertise as both an instructor and a designer shines throughout—she provides thorough steps for everything from the basics of piecing to more advanced techniques such as foundation paper piecing and machine appliqué. The projects are appropriate for quilters of all skill levels, and Gibson’s clear, thoughtful guidance makes even the more advanced projects beginner-friendly. VERDICT Gibson’s “For Keeps Pledge” (at has gained traction in the quilt blogging world; her popularity among contemporary quilters combined with the appealing projects make this book a winner.

Hoskins, Patricia. How To Make Slipcovers: Designing, Measuring, and Sewing Perfect-Fit Slipcovers for Chairs, Sofas, and Ottomans. Storey. (Basics). 2015. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612125251. pap. $8.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612125268. FIBER CRAFTS

Slipcovers are an easy way to refresh old furniture, or to protect furniture from wear and tear. Unlike upholstery, slipcovers are removable, which means they can be cleaned more easily. The latest in this no-frills series takes sewists through the basic steps of selecting fabric and trims, measuring the piece to be slipcovered, sewing or assembling, and making design choices such as the style of the skirt. The focus is strictly on slipcovers—no sewing instructions other than some specialty techniques are included—thus absolute beginners aren’t taken through the process of measuring the piece, creating the muslin, or sewing the slipcover. ­DIYers with some sewing experience should be able to work their way through this thoroughly organized book and end up with a slipcover that meets their needs. VERDICT Beginners who need step-by-step instruction or extensive photographs may prefer Karen Erickson and Carol Zentgraf’s The Complete Photo Guide to Slipcovers, Pillows, and Bedding, but experienced sewists who don’t mind a just-the-facts approach will get what they need here.

Redmond, Lea (text) & Lauren Nassef (illus.). Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting. Storey. 2015. 168p. index. ISBN 9781612123332. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612123349. FIBER CRAFTS

knithesky9215Artist Redmond (cofounder, Leafcutter Designs) invites knitters to explore the world around them, telling their stories with yarn and needles. The first project, the titular “Knit the Sky,” sets up the premise: knitters will use sky-colored yarns to replicate the day’s sky, creating a scarf over a long period of time. When the project is complete, it’s a wearable record of the weather in a particular time and place. The other projects serve as similar records—a mood ring cowl that documents the day’s atmosphere (Redmond makes suggestions for color and mood matches), a knitted “growth chart” that reports a child’s height through age 18, and a knitted neighborhood cowl in which the colors of the houses on a block are archived in yarn. Redmond’s directions are open-ended, consisting of a story that outlines the project’s premise and provides some very basic guidance (e.g., a number of stitches to cast on). In addition to the documentary projects, there are also several projects that will stretch knitters’ imaginations, such as a skirt knit using pencils as needles and a tiny ring knit on straight pins using sewing thread as the yarn. The illustrations by painter Nassef are a delight, complementing the author’s lighthearted approach to knitting and life. VERDICT Redmond’s debut is thoroughly unexpected, deeply charming, and a lot of fun. Knitters seeking a unique way to explore the world around them via their favorite pastime will devour this lively collection.

Young, Celeste. Baby & Me Knits: 20 Timeless Designs for Mom & Baby. Sellers. Sept. 2015. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781416245414. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Young’s (Knits of a Feather) collection of coordinating mother-child garments and accessories was inspired by her infant son, Jack, who models many of the designs in the book. The baby clothes and accessories serve as a thematic starting place for the adult designs. Each style includes a set of four designs—three for baby, one for mom—connected by style and knit in a coordinating yarn. For example, the “Ropes and Rings” set features cabled baby and adult hats, as well as a cabled baby blanket and a baby hoodie, all knit in a cream-colored yarn reminiscent of fishermen’s sweaters. The small size of the garments make them an excellent way to try a new technique, such as stranded colorwork or cable knitting, and close-up photographs of basic techniques are included throughout the book—a bonus for visual learners. The size range goes through 24 months; the adult accessories are generally one size. VERDICT This book isn’t about dressing like your baby, which is good, because what works for a grown woman may not work on a 12-pound infant (and vice versa). Baby knits are ever popular, and coordinating accessories for moms adds further appeal.

Interior Design

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

redstarHandmade Interiors: Create Your Own Soft Furnishings from Cushions to Curtains. DK. 2015. 304p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465427083. $40. INTERIOR DESIGN

handmadeinteriors81415Given DK’s reputation for publishing practical, well-illustrated books, it’s no surprise to find this helpful volume on sewing decorative accessories for the home. Beginning with an overview of sewing supplies and equipment, the book continues with explanations of home furnishing fabrics and illustrations of machine and hand stitches. More than 1,000 color photographs and numerous drawings illustrate the 35 projects for making a variety of home furnishings including storage baskets and children’s items. However, the substance here is the information for making pillows (oxford and bolster), seating and cushions (slipcovers and upholstery), blinds (roman and roller), and curtains (tab top and pencil pleat), which feature a list of necessary supplies as well as step-by-step instructions that one will refer to again and again. A section at the back offers tips for decorating your space. VERDICT This book will soon become a well-worn reference.

Petravic, Robin & Catherine Bailey. Tile Makes the Room: Good Design from Heath Ceramics. Ten Speed: Crown. Sept. 2015. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607747413. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781607747420. INTERIOR DESIGN

With the purchase of the Sausalito, CA, Heath Ceramics factory, designers Petravic and Bailey were able to create a firm where they could direct the whole design of their product, from manufacturing to end use. Here, they encourage the use of this durable product by visiting close to 50 contemporary residential and commercial properties, located primarily in North America and Europe and depicted in more than 150 photographs, to showcase how tile has been applied in an array of creative ways. The authors include a section on the manufacture and installation of tile and diverse glazes, colors, textures, patterns, and designs. The book concludes with an international look at publicly accessible and inspirational tilework and the resource details for each of the professionally designed interiors. VERDICT This focused look at the uses of and choices in tile attests to its appeal in contemporary design.

This article was published in Library Journal's September 1, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.