No Craft Left Behind: 12 Craft & DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Kuo, Julia & Michael Wojtech. Drawing Trees and Leaves: Observing and Sketching the Natural World. Quarry: Quarto. (Curious Artist). Dec. 2016. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631592607. pap. $24.99. ART INSTRUCTION
drawing trees and leaves
Kuo (Draw 500 Fabulous Fashions), a professional illustrator with a love of the outdoors, teams with naturalist Wojtech (Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast) to lead readers on a unique journey. Fascinating visual and textual information about trees is beautifully imparted with quick drawing lessons offered almost as a bonus. A dynamic vertical two-page-spread format mirrors the upward trajectory of most trees, explaining their full life cycle. Clues for identifying common species are also provided. Interaction among trees and other plants, insects, and animals is discussed as are broader environmental concerns. ­VERDICT This unusual visual reference book encourages readers of all ages to interact with nature through creative ­observation.

Pearce, Steven. 101 Textures in Graphite & Charcoal: Practical Drawing Techniques for Rendering a Variety of Surfaces & Textures. Walter Foster: Quarto. Mar. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781633221918. spiral. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633224100. ART INSTRUCTION
101 textures
Artist Pearce’s practical guide demonstrates how to render convincingly a wide array of surfaces and textures in pencil and charcoal. Each of the 101 exercises consists of four to six close-up panel drawings showing the progression from initial sketch to fully shaded texture drawing, accompanied by brief explanations of what happens at each step. An introductory section discusses tools, materials, and techniques. Subsequent chapters cover people; animals; cloth and clothing; glass, stone, ceramics, wood, and metal; food and drink; and nature. Readers are free to skip around to those sections that suit their creative interests. More exercises feature graphite than charcoal, but a few are presented in both mediums. ­VERDICT This straightforward guide can help readers of all skill levels add detail and polish to their realistic drawings.



Cruz, Jane Danley. Dragons, Crystals & Chainmaille: Jewelry Designs To Inspire Your Imagination. Kalmbach. Feb. 2017. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781627004008. pap. $22.99. CRAFTS
imagination jewelry
Jewelry designer Cruz’s personal interest in fantasy-themed jewelry intersects with the current trend for all things medieval in this collection of easy projects using a variety of techniques including wirework, simple beadweaving, resin, and kumihimo. The designs are organized by type (brooches and accessories, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings), and most incorporate elements that are overtly fantasy-themed (rough-cut crystals, dragon pendants, a reptile’s eye cabochon). The instructions are easy to follow, listing components that are readily available at big-box craft retailers, making these projects a low-stress way for novices to try out new techniques. VERDICT Jewelry makers expecting a variety of chain mail projects may be disappointed—there are only three in this book, and they’re rudimentary—but crafters looking for simple fantasy-inspired pieces in wide-ranging styles will find interesting ideas.

Morin, John & Camilla Sanderson. Inspired Origami: Projects To Calm the Mind and Soothe the Soul. Running Pr. Apr. 2017. 80p. illus. index. ISBN 9780762461752. $15. CRAFTS
inspired origami
Origami meets mindfulness in this collection of beginner-level projects from origami master Morin (The Ultimate Origami Book) and mindfulness expert Sanderson (The Mini Book of Mindfulness). The introduction covers basic principles of both mindfulness and origami, followed by a series of projects that includes origami classics such as swans, cranes, and boxes, as well as several modern pieces, including a leaf, a wave, and a pleated candy dish. Illustrated directions using standard origami diagrams walk crafters through the folding process; introductions to each piece provide additional mindfulness tips. An assortment of origami paper is included with the book. VERDICT Origami and mindfulness are a natural pairing, and this guide provides a thoughtful and basic introduction to both.



Akiyama, Lance. Duct Tape Engineer: The Book of Big, Bigger, and Epic Duct Tape Projects. Rockport: Quarto. Feb. 2017. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631591303. pap. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781631593864. DIY
duct tape
Duct tape has infinite possibilities. ­Akiyama, author of the very cool Rubber Band Engineer, pushes the limits of the medium with this collection of projects. While there are some predictable items, such as the backpack and satchel, the reinforced cardboard furniture designs are unexpected, as are the geodesic dome, garden swing, and kayak. The projects are well organized, with materials and tool lists, cutting measurements, and step-by-step instructions. VERDICT This volume will have great appeal to young adults and teens. And while the durability of cardboard and duct tape furniture may be questionable, it certainly is unique. Strongly recommended.

Turned Boxes: 40 Inspiring Boxes by Expert Makers. Guild of Master Craftsman. Mar. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784942489. pap. $19.95. DIY
turned boxes
The lathe machine can be used to create stunning cylindrical boxes, and the 40 boxes presented here range from simple and whimsical to sophisticated and artistic. Besides style, a range of woods and other materials are highlighted, including a container made of Corian. Each project is well organized, with dimensions, wood recommendations, and step-by-step photos. However, none of this is easy nor for beginners. Familiarity with lathe work, and an array of gouges and other tools, is assumed. VERDICT This lovely collection of turned boxes by master woodworkers is great for intermediate wood turners who need a challenge. Highly ­recommended.

Fiber Crafts


Engquist, Ulla. Knitting Details Start to Finish: A Handbook of Simple Tricks, Creative Solutions, and Finishing Techniques. Trafalgar Square. Feb. 2017. 144p. tr. from Swedish by Carol Huebscher Rhoades. illus. ISBN 9781570767838. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
knitting details
Swedish handknitter Engquist explores the technical side of knitting in this handbook, which focuses on fundamental skills such as cast-ons, bind-offs, and finishing techniques, as well as tips for sweater knitting. Each section covers a specific skill and features a blend of line drawings and photographs to reinforce the information. The side-by-side comparisons of different methods are useful—when there are multiple ways to do the same thing, it can come down to a matter of aesthetics. Given this book’s usefulness as a knitting reference, the absence of an index seems like an oversight. VERDICT Knitters who appreciate the hows and whys behind knitting will be drawn to the technical information; those who would rather stick to the facts may prefer one of the many visual guides available on these topics.

redstarNyberg, Amanda Jean. No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes. Stash: C&T. Feb. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781617453366. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617453373. FIBER CRAFTS
no scrap lef behind
Nyberg (coauthor, Sunday Morning Quilts) found herself in a situation that many quilters will find familiar—her scrap bins were overflowing. Her solution? Embrace scrappy quilting and make use of those small pieces! The quilts in this book use scraps ranging from tiny (one inch square) to six inches, in a variety of forms (square, triangle, strip/string, and irregularly shaped snippets). Working with scraps is more of a marathon than a sprint—Nyberg admits that it took her over a year to finish several of the quilts here. The peek into her design process (including some ideas that didn’t quite work) is fascinating, and demonstrates that even experienced designers don’t always get it right the first time. Helpful hints for organizing, cutting, and working with scraps are included throughout. VERDICT Nyberg’s point of view—that no scrap is too small, and that fabric is meant to be used rather than hoarded—will resonate with many, as she brings together patterns of traditional design and contemporary fabric.

Prier, Alice. Pattern Making Templates for Skirts & Dresses: All You Need To Design, Adapt & Customize Your Clothes. Barron’s. Apr. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781438010014. pap. $23.99. FIBER CRAFTS
templates for skirts and dresses
Pattern-making expert Prier distills her considerable knowledge into a series of ready-to-adjust slopers (basic patterns tailored to an individual) for skirts and dresses. Two main slopers (a darted dress and a dartless dress, in U.S. sizes two–16) plus slopers for details such as sleeves, collars, and pockets, are downloadable and ready to customize based on a series of body measurements. Once the sloper is custom fitted, Prier guides sewists through the process of adjusting the pattern to create unique garments, ranging from a classic pencil skirt to an empire-waist gown. A brief conclusion covers adjustments to resolve common fitting issues. VERDICT With a few exceptions, most of the projects are best for sewists who are comfortable with their garment-sewing skills. Still, beginners interested in pattern making will find plenty to explore.

redstarStocker, Blair . Wise Craft Quilts: A Guide to Turning Beloved Fabrics into Meaningful Patchwork. Roost. Mar. 2017. 192p. illus. photos by Stephanie Congdon Barnes. ISBN 9781611803488. $29.95. FIBER CRAFTS
wise craft quilts
Stocker (Wise Craft) specializes in breathing new life into found and vintage supplies, and her first sewing book takes a variety of textiles, including vintage handkerchiefs and tablecloths, upholstery samples, baby clothes, and a wedding dress, and transforms them into quilts. Her aesthetic is decidedly modern (Denyse Schmidt, who wrote the foreword, is a good comparison), and her keen eye for color and design shine throughout the projects, which span many styles, including both precise and improvisational piecing. For quilters accustomed to sewing with cotton fabric, working with denim or Tyvek race bibs can be a challenge, and Stocker includes plenty of guidance for effectively using these nontraditional quilt fabrics. VERDICT There are so many innovative projects in this impressive collection that it’s difficult to pick a standout. Quilters interested in nontraditional ­textiles will be inspired.

Uys, Dedri. Bold Baby Crochet: 30 Modern & Colorful Projects for Baby. Barron’s. Mar. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781438009513. pap. $18.99. FIBER CRAFTS
bold baby crochet
Uys (Big Hook Rag Crochet) curates this collection of crocheted clothing, gifts, toys, and nursery accessories, most featuring a bright or pastel rainbow color scheme. There’s a nice spread of difficulty levels included, and the yarn ranges from durable, easy-care cottons and acrylics for sweaters and blankets to soft luxury yarns for a special-occasion pantsuit and a pair of newborn socks. While many of the toys and accessories may be suitable for toddlers, the clothing focuses on newborn to 12-month sizes, although experienced crocheters may be able to upsize as needed. Several of the projects also incorporate interesting textures such as bobbles and raised stitches, which are great for babies’ sensory development. VERDICT Crocheters seeking cheery, gender-neutral baby gear will find abundant options in this fun pattern collection.

Interior Design

gayle a. williamson, Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

Kotite, Erika. She Sheds: A Room of Your Own. Cool Springs: Quarto. Jan. 2017. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781591866770. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780760354162. INTERIOR DESIGN
she sheds
Magazine editor and book developer Kotite visits 23 properties in the United States, England, and Australia, showcasing sheds designed for women in search of a space of their own whether for gardening, crafts, writing, or guests. For each, she describes the size, cost, time to build, how the space is used, and both the interior and exterior design. The styles shown are as simple as a restored corn crib to a more elaborate plaster and red-tiled-roof Spanish cottage fit for habitation. In addition, Kotite discusses the practical considerations of building and includes a case study detailing the construction of a shed for a relative. VERDICT With more than 170 color photographs highlighting the decorating styles, this volume will appeal to all genders interested in creative ways to utilize sheds.

This article was published in Library Journal's April 15, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.