There’s Always Room for Creativity: 13 Craft/DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

redstarCulhane, Diane. If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint: Transforming Simple Drawings into Works of Art. Quarry: Quarto. May 2017. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781631592898. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781631594069. ART INSTRUCTION
Artist Culhane’s guide shows readers how to tap into their creative subconscious through doodling. The goal is to convert humble doodles into finished artworks. Culhane first offers advice on how to mine promising sketches previously worked on—those little drawings on the corners of notebook pages that may be tucked away at home or at work. A series of exercises follows, assisting in the creation of brand-new doodles to work with. A variety of approaches is presented to step it up to the next level, including changing the context or scale of the drawing; combining multiple illustrations; and incorporating mixed media, collage, or even paint. ­VERDICT A great solution for anyone who wants to be creative but is pressed for time.

Forsberg, Monika. Anytime, Anywhere Art: Crayon; An Artist’s Colorful Guide to Drawing on the Go! Walter Foster: Quarto. May 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781633222700. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633224315. ART INSTRUCTION
Forget what you remember about crayons from childhood. The medium has advanced significantly, with more vibrant colors deploying denser pigments and water soluble or blendable oil options. Forsberg, an animator and illustrator, is a crayon expert. Her fun, playful, and unexpectedly painterly style fills the pages of this guide. Color science basics are briefly explained along with notes about materials and instructions for packing a simple take-along kit. Ten step-by-step exercises guide the reader through creating colorful drawings of everyday objects and surroundings such as foods, furniture at home, clothing, plants, gardens, and pets. Techniques including layering, pressure, blending, and resistance are explained. VERDICT This book can help readers of all artistic skill levels get more out of this portable and user-friendly medium.



redstarDruce, Nikki. Making Steampunk Jewellery. Crowood. Jun. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781785002144. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781785002151. CRAFTS
Jewelry designer Druce specializes in steampunk accessories—a style combining elements of Victorian style, gothic romanticism, and machinery. Although steampunk design is ornate, the basis for most projects is ready-made items that have been altered and embellished, as well as standard jewelry findings such as chains, clasps, and jump rings. Druce expands her view of steampunk accessories to include gauntlets, goggles, and epaulets, as well as tips for designing a full genre-inspired outfit. Unlike similar books on the subject, Druce provides history and context for the steampunk aesthetic, presenting it as more than just a bunch of brass gears glued to a broken pocket watch. VERDICT Fans of steampunk style will discover a bounty of ideas; cosplay aficionados may also find projects adaptable for a variety of fandoms.



redstarBarker, Bruce A. Black & Decker Deck Codes & Standards: How To Design, Build, Inspect & Maintain a Safer Deck. Cool Springs: Quarto. Jun. 2017. 128p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781591866855. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9780760358160. DIY
Whether you are a homeowner, a builder, or inspector, this book is for you. Barker, an author and expert on building standards and president of a building inspection and consulting firm, speaks with great authority. Emphasizing the importance of codes and standards, the author leads readers through the components of decks, highlighting potential hazards. Barker’s advice is clear and straightforward throughout. Many fixes are outlined, and substandard construction is well illustrated in comparison to codes and standards. The appendix listing of structure failures and the injuries (sometimes fatal) caused by them is sobering. VERDICT This excellent and valuable manual is highly ­recommended for homeowners and builders.

Ettlinger, Steve & Phil Schmidt. The All New Illustrated Guide to Everything Sold in Hardware Stores. rev. ed. Cool Springs: Quarto. May 2017. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781591866862. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780760357736. DIY
This primer offers a general introduction to the most commonly used hardware, parts, and materials. Experienced authors Ettlinger and Schmidt strive not to overwhelm readers, starting with fasteners such as nails and proceeding to surface materials, plumbing, and finally, electrical supplies. For a detailed manual on home repairs that includes an introduction to materials and tools, see the Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement by the editors of Creative Homeowner (updated ed., 2017). Still, this book is a solid starting point for new DIYers. ­VERDICT Recommended for beginners: new homeowners and ­handypersons just getting starting.

Fiber Crafts


Alvarez, Nilda Callañaupa & the Weavers of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. Thrums. Sept. 2017. 144p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780998452357. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780983886020. FIBER CRAFTS
The traditional textiles of the Andean highlands near Cusco, Peru, are instantly recognizable for their intricate patterns and bright colors. Alvarez, one of the founders of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, explores the centuries-old traditions of Quechua fiber arts, with a focus on spinning, weaving, and knitting. Each section of this book describes techniques that are passed along through generations, followed by tutorials explaining the methods behind these traditional crafts. The weaving section, which features the extensive use of backstrap looms, is particularly fascinating. Numerous photographs show artisans at work, giving a sense of the both the community and the complexity of creating these textile arts. VERDICT Alvarez’s study of traditional Andean textile arts is both a joy to look at and a fascinating document of a unique fiber arts tradition.

Flendt, Jemima. Weekend Quilting: Quilt and Unwind with Simple Designs To Sew in No Time. Fons & Porter. May 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781440246616. pap. $24.99. FIBER CRAFTS
In her debut collection, Australian quilt blogger Flendt takes common quilt block components, such as half-square triangles and flying geese, and techniques such as appliqué and English paper piecing, and transforms them into a series of small projects. Each section includes three tutorials: an overview of the basic block or technique, a miniquilt, and a project, which ranges from small household accessories such as pillow covers or table runners to crib-size quilts. Straightforward cutting instructions and many precut-friendly designs reduces the amount of cutting necessary. VERDICT The array of techniques included in this collection of contemporary quilt projects is impressive, and Flendt has an eye for color that shines. Quilters of all skill levels will find plenty to explore.

Gomes, Andreia. Little Loom Weaving: Quick and Clever Projects for Creating Adorable Stuff. Ulysses. May 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781612436630. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612437002. FIBER CRAFTS
Self-taught weaver Gomes explores the basics of tapestry weaving on a simple frame loom in this guide to weaving techniques. Skills covered include basic tabby weave (or plain weave), rya knots, soumak, loops, and simple tapestry techniques for producing geometric shapes. Instructions for constructing a simple DIY frame loom are provided. A series of 15 projects, ranging from small plain-weave bracelets and coasters to decorative wall hangings, reinforces basic skills. Gomes also shares ideas for working with found objects from nature, such as branches and driftwood, in decorative weaving. ­VERDICT Beginner-level weaving guides are becoming more popular, and Gomes’s focus on tapestry projects distinguishes this one from an increasingly crowded field. Ideal for novices who prefer to see each step of the process.

Krawczyk, Lynn. The Hand-Stitched Surface: Slow Stitching and Mixed-Media Techniques for Fabric and Paper. Creative Pub. Int’l: Quarto. May 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589239425. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781589239593. FIBER CRAFTS
Improvisational hand-stitching lies at the heart of Krawczyk’s (Intentional Printing) collection of embroidery projects, which features designs stitched on both fabric and paper. A clever stitch guide featuring “stitch squares”—four-inch squares of wool felt used to experiment with embroidery stitches and their variations—introduces the possibilities of improvisational stitching, and a series of projects allows stitchers to put their own twist on embroidery. Krawczyk also incorporates dyeing, including simple resist dyeing using gel-based glue, stamping, and collage, giving a mixed-media feel to many of the projects. The overall style is loose and free-wheeling, and encourages stitchers to take risks and envision a range of materials as suitable for embroidered embellishment. VERDICT This vibrant collection will inspire first-timers to pick up a needle and thread, while giving experienced stitchers fresh ideas.

Miller, Ellen. Creating Couture Embellishment. Laurence King. Aug. 2017. 400p. illus. index. ISBN 9781780679495. pap. $85. FIBER CRAFTS
Miller, a professional costume designer and couture sewing instructor, brings decades of experience to this encyclopedic guide to embellishment. A visual index opens the book and allows sewists to see each technique covered at a glance, as shown on a garment sleeve. Each chapter is devoted to a different type of embellishment (e.g., feathers, pleats, beads and sequins) and includes a variety of applications of different embellishment, complete with illustrated instructions and expert tips. The photographs throughout are striking and include both embellished bodices and close-up views of works in progress. ­VERDICT This comprehensive reference is best suited to professional fashion and costume design collections, as well as collections where professional-level sewing books are popular.

Rowe, Lynne & Betsan Corkhill. Knit Yourself Calm: A Creative Path to Managing Stress. Search. Jul. 2017. 112p. illus. index. ISBN 9781782214939. pap. $15.95. FIBER CRAFTS

Books touting the stress-busting properties of crafting are commonplace, and this collection, cowritten by two knitters who have researched the therapeutic benefits of knitting, provides a bounty of simple, low-frustration projects. Rowe and Corkhill group their designs by type—quick and easy, portable, group, big, and new skills—so knitters are free to choose the one appropriate for their situation. Most include fairly simple, easy-to-memorize, basic stitch patterns. Knitters who prefer exploring more complicated techniques will find a few projects in the “new skills” section, which includes simple stranded knitting, cables, and duplicate stitch. ­VERDICT Rowe and Corkhill see the mindful aspects of knitting as something serious and enduring rather than trendy, and it shows. Beginning knitters looking for a way to unwind will find both projects and tips in this collection.

Stiller, Jennifer. Crocheted Gifts for Baby: 30 Colorful Garments, Toys, and Must-Have Accessories for Ages 0-2. Trafalgar Square. May 2017. 112p. tr. from German. illus. ISBN 9781570768064. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Stiller’s clever collection focuses on crocheted clothing, toys, and accessories for babies and toddlers, and features a wealth of colorful, cheery, gender-neutral designs that are easy to customize. The garments include sweaters, pants, and skirts as well as small accessories (hats, mitts, scarves, booties) designed to keep baby warm—and stylish. The toys include a mini soccer ball, a ring toy, a dragon rattle, and a basket/baby doll carrier. The accessories range from decorative, such as a tissue box cover, to practical, think baby blankets and washcloths. Each pattern specifies a skill level, with most falling within easy to intermediate. A brief overview of crochet basics is included. VERDICT Baby accessories projects are ever popular, and Stiller’s creations go beyond the typical afghans and booties.

Interior Design

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

Seal, Moorea. Make Yourself at Home: Design Your Space To Discover Your True Self. Sasquatch. Sept. 2017. 224p. illus. by Julia Manchik. photos by Marissa Maharaj. index. ISBN 9781632170354. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781632170361. INTERIOR DESIGN
Seal (The 52 Lists Project; 52 Lists for Happiness) presents advice for creating a home environment that reflects one’s personal style and nurtures one’s creativity. The book is divided into chapters for rooms of the house—living room, kitchen, dining room, office, bedroom, including bringing nature into the space—and provides Seal’s personal view on design approaches, accompanied by two easy DIY decorative projects for each room. Each of the six sections showcases creative women offering tips on forming a comfortable, welcoming home, shown in close to 150 color photographs. Rounding out the information are brief guides on color and furniture styles. VERDICT A fresh view of design that gives amateurs decorating ideas they can use in their own abodes.

This article was published in Library Journal's September 1, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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