Crafting Up a Storm

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Amberlyn, J.C. How To Draw Dogs and Puppies: A Complete Guide for Beginners. Monacelli. Mar. 2017. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781580934541. pap. $25. ART INSTRUCTION
In this drawing guide, Amberlyn (Drawing Manga) first addresses general dog anatomy, then moves on to capturing puppies at various stages of development. A wealth of specific dog breeds, both common, such as the beagle, and more unusual, such as the vizsla, are featured throughout. The book is organized around pedigreed breed groups: the herding group; hounds; sporting group; nonsporting group; terriers; working group; and toy group. There’s also a chapter on mixed breeds. A few detailed step-by-step projects and lots of instructive sketches and diagrams are provided in each chapter. VERDICT This guide will delight and entertain beginner dog-loving artists.

redstarFlor, Martina. The Golden Secrets of Lettering: Letter Design from First Sketch to Final Artwork. Princeton Architectural. Apr. 2017. 168p. illus. ISBN 9781616895730. $35. ART INSTRUCTION
Hand lettering, not to be confused with type design or calligraphy, is the subject of this guide by professional designer and illustrator Flor, who specializes in letters. A clever visual table of contents begins the book, and every page thereafter is dynamically filled with diagrams, photos, and many examples of lettering. There are analyses of lettering samples in the real world, on signs and products, in books, and elsewhere. The many possible processes of creating letter shapes by hand are discussed. Vector drawing software is introduced to help readers do digital conversions of their analog hand-drawn lettering. Flor also offers tips for professional commissions that feature lettering. VERDICT Readers with at least some prior drawing experience are best poised to benefit from this highly educational art instruction book.



redstarAtkin, Jacqui. Making Pottery You Can Use. Barron’s. Mar. 2017. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780764168734. $24.99. DIY
Ramp up your pottery skills with this specialized manual, as British ceramics professional and author Atkin offers design techniques to reduce errors in finished pieces. With projects including simple mugs and stylish teapots, tips and options are highlighted throughout, focusing on the construction rather than finishes. This polished book is a lovely addition to the field of pottery. The projects are attractive and well explained. It’s not a beginner’s manual, however—throwing technique is briefly covered, and explanations on the use of tools, materials, firing, and glazes are cursory. VERDICT Highly recommended for intermediate students still working through the fine details of potterymaking.

Padden, Betty. Carving & Painting Noah’s Ark: Easy-Build Ark Plans Plus Step-by-Step Instructions & Patterns for Classic Animals. Fox Chapel. Apr. 2017. 88p. illus. ISBN 9781565238954. pap. $14.99. DIY
This very specific book by artist Padden, who has other decorative carving books to her credit (Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments, Lettering & Sign Carving Workbook, etc.), covers a single large carving endeavor. The Noah’s Ark project covers all aspects, from boat to individual figures. While general techniques and processes are explained, tool use is assumed. Painting and figure details are covered. Beginning carvers should start with Steve Tomashek’s Tiny Whittling or Tom Hindes’s 20-Minute Whittling Projects; both titles include animal figures with emphasis on tool use and techniques. Libraries should also note that a packet of paper patterns is included in the back of this book. VERDICT Recommended for wood carvers looking for more variety. The figures are supercute, and the book worth considering by those who want to create the individual animals and not the entire ark.

Step-by-Step Projects for Self-Sufficiency. Cool Springs: Quarto. Apr. 2017. 352p. illus. index. ISBN 9781591866886. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780760357552. DIY
For those interested in a self-sufficient lifestyle, this collection has something for everyone. The projects range from a simple garden trellis to more complex structures such as a greenhouse and chicken coop. Each project is well organized, with an exploded view image, cutting list, materials, and tools needed. Step-by-step illustrations do an excellent job of guiding users through the construction process. However, many of these projects have been lifted from the publisher’s other books: The Complete Outdoor Builder (2016) and The Complete Guide to Greenhouses & Garden Projects (2011), which contributes to a lack of flow and cohesion throughout. VERDICT While great instruction makes this volume a strong contender, another option is Spike Carlsen’s The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects.

Fiber Crafts


Aller, Allie. Allie Aller’s Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined: Fresh Techniques & Design. C&T. Feb. 2017. 100p. illus. ISBN 9781617452864. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617452871. FIBER CRAFTS
Master quilter Aller (Allie Aller’s Crazy Quilting) returns to her first love—stained glass quilts—in this guide to designing and creating these bold, art-inspired pieces. The quilts have the look of appliqué, but rather than layering and stitching each piece, the fabrics are placed on a foundation (often muslin) and the seams or design lines are couched with a faux leading to mimic the look of stained glass. Instead of using bias tape for the leading, Aller prefers quilting cotton backed with fusible webbing and cut into bias strips of varying widths. That and other options for leading are discussed at length, with hints for how to apply them as well as practice blocks. Several projects are also included. VERDICT Quilters will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to reproduce these lovely art quilts.

redstarBarbé, Karen. Colour Confident Stitching: How To Create Beautiful Colour Palettes. Pimpernel. Jun. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781910258651. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Textile artist Barbé introduces the basics of color theory, delving deeply into schemes, moods, and meanings to inspire stitchers to break out of their color ruts. She discusses places to find inspiration, including the natural world, staged photographs, and everyday objects and scenes, then demonstrates methods for sampling colors digitally, then translating to the floss or thread used for the project. A variety of sample palettes are provided, but the end goal is to help stitchers feel confident in their ability to choose color palettes that reflect the intended mood and personality of their work rather than mimicking pre-created palettes. Five small, customizable projects, with Barbé’s selected palettes, reinforce the lessons. VERDICT Barbé has assembled an accessible primer to color theory, useful not only to embroiderers but to any fiber artists working with color.

Chamberlin, Ruth. Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork. Search. (Classics). Apr. 2017. 80p. illus. index. ISBN 9781782214861. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Goldwork, a centuries-old technique most commonly seen in ecclesiastical embroidery, incorporates gold thread as an element of the design, usually alongside silk or cotton threads. Educator Chamberlin demonstrates commonly used goldwork methods, with a focus on the specialized stitches and approaches involved. Many of the stitches are familiar to embroiderers, and the gold thread is couched using a brick stitch or a similar couching stitch. Though Chamberlin references a sampler when teaching goldwork, only pieces of that sampler are provided here. While they could easily stand alone as smaller works, it’s unfortunate that those learning from this book don’t have access to the full design. ­VERDICT Goldwork is a fascinating specialty technique, and Chamberlin provides a beginner-friendly overview to the intricacies of it.

Eaton, Jan. 350+ Crochet Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2017. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781250125101. pap. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250125118. FIBER CRAFTS
In this updated and expanded edition of her 2007 guide, needlecraft specialist Eaton (The New Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques) provides a basics-and-beyond overview of crochet tools and techniques. The content is arranged thematically, with brief, step-by-step tutorials on a variety of topics, with sidebars highlighting skills or easy fixes to common crochet problems. Coverage includes basic stitches, as well as simple decorative patterns (chevrons, fans, and blocks) and special stitches (popcorns, puffs, and bobbles). Also included is information about crocheted edgings, joining motifs, and simple colorwork. Eaton goes in some unexpected directions, with garment design and pattern and chart reading appearing before the stitch guide. The index can help to resolve the oddities in topic arrangement. VERDICT Most questions that a beginning crocheter might have are covered in this guide.

Redford, Catherine. Modern Machine Quilting: Make a Perfectly Finished Quilt on Your Home Machine. Fons & Porter. Mar. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781440246319. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS
Experienced quilting instructor Redford introduces the basics of machine quilting on a domestic sewing machine in her first book, which guides beginners through the process of preparing and quilting a finished quilt top. The chapter on preparing the quilt sandwich is thorough, with suggestions on topics ranging from choosing the right needle and setting the tension on the machine to basting quilts quickly and effectively. While many machine quilting books focus on either walking-foot quilting or free-motion quilting, Redford includes an introduction to both techniques, providing a well-rounded overview of the possibilities offered by each. A gallery of Redford’s finished quilts and four projects round out the volume. VERDICT Redford’s friendly tone and thoughtful guidance make machine quilting accessible to all, and coverage of the dual techniques is especially helpful for ­newcomers.

Samson, Denise. The Cable Knitter’s Guide: 50 Patterns, 25 Projects, Countless Tips and Ideas. Trafalgar Square. Feb. 2017. 180p. tr. from Norwegian by Carol Huebscher Rhoades. illus. ISBN 9781570767920. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
In this Norwegian import, knitter Samson explores traditional cable knitting via a cable stitch dictionary featuring large, close-up, color photographs of a variety of cable swatches, as well as written and charted instructions. The cables are organized by type (e.g., reversible cables), and each chart contains a clear description of the length and width of the repeat. Chart-reading skills are essential to cable knitting, and Samson provides video tutorials (accessible via QR codes in the book or the author’s YouTube channel) for each symbol in her cable charts. A selection of projects includes sweaters, throws, socks, and small accessories. VERDICT Cable knitting looks more complex and involved than it is, and Samson breaks down the steps in an ­accessible ­manner.

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

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