Expanding Your Creativity: 10 Exciting and New Craft/DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Moorhouse, Faye. Playful Painting: Pets; More Than 20 Fun and Clever Projects for Animal Lovers. Walter Foster: Quarto. Sept. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781633223387. pap. $21.95. ART INSTRUCTION
Illustrator Moorhouse’s guide takes a more spontaneous and modern approach to capturing the personality of our pets. After a brief introduction covering tools, materials, simple color theory, and technique basics, 20 step-by-step lessons walk readers through painting and drawing dogs, cats, pet birds, pigs, rabbits, hamsters, and fish. Moorhouse’s illustrations are of a particular light, funny style reminiscent of comics. Quite a few dogs and cats are shown wearing sweaters or even donning hats and bowties. Projects are demonstrated in gouache, watercolor, pencil, and ink, highlighting each medium’s strengths for depicting fur, wet noses, and shiny eyes. A bonus chapter at the end offers suggestions for crafty ways to deploy one’s pet paintings. VERDICT This upbeat guide will attract readers of all ages and skill levels.

Wynne, Patricia J. Classic Sketchbook: Cats; Secrets of Observational Drawing. Rockport: Quarto. Jul. 2017. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781631592942. pap. $19.99. ART INSTRUCTION
Artist Wynne leads readers through a lively survey of museum artworks featuring cats and kittens of many breeds. A variety of classical realistic and impressionistic styles, as executed by artists mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries, are showcased. A reproduction of each drawing, painting, or print is shown alongside Wynne’s step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations to help readers create their own sketches. More than 40 lessons in all focus on parts of the cat, stressing realistic anatomy, including faces and facial expressions, paws, legs, tails, fur of different lengths and textures, gestures, body positions, and cats in action. Readers expecting advice on capturing the felines from life will need to look elsewhere. VERDICT Cat-loving readers of intermediate artistic skill are the best match for this guide.



Hantke, Laura Sofie & Lucas Grassmann. Kitchen Lithography: Hand Printing at Home; From Buttons and Bags to Postcards and Pillowcases. Princeton Architectural. Oct. 2017. 120p. tr. from German. illus. ISBN 9781616896232. pap. $21.95. CRAFTS
In their quest to find a printmaking method that didn’t require a studio with high-end supplies, designers Hantke and Grassmann discovered kitchen lithography, which uses common household items such as aluminum foil, vegetable oil, and cola to create simple printing plates. Their guide walks crafters through the process of creating and etching the printing plate and using the plate to make prints on a variety of surfaces. The authors cover both single-color and multicolor printing, extending the life of the printing plate using gum arabic, and troubleshooting printmaking problems. VERDICT Crafters interested in exploring printmaking without investing a lot of money in pricey supplies will be fascinated by the high-quality results produced by kitchen lithography. Since the technique is so easy and the supplies are nontoxic, it’s also a fun rainy-day art project for older children.

Norris, Rachel. Mastering Wirework Jewelry: 15 Intricate Designs To Create. Guild of Master Craftsman. Aug. 2017. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784943318. pap. $24.95. CRAFTS
Jewelry designer Norris shares her wirework expertise in this collection of 15 intermediate-to-advanced level projects combining wire, beads, and semiprecious stones. The majority of the designs are nature inspired, featuring ornate, embellished plants or animals, including a cat, a dolphin, a horse, and an owl. Projects include brooches, pendants, and necklaces, all constructed from coiled and shaped wire. Given the complexity of the projects—many contain upward of 75 steps—clear, thorough directions are a must, so each step includes both text and photographic instructions, with call outs provided on the photographs as needed. While a variety of tips for wirework are included, the focus is solidly on the projects, and a high level of skill is assumed. VERDICT Experienced jewelrymakers who enjoy wirework will be challenged by Norris’s beautiful designs.

Pascual, Paula & others. Day of the Dead: 20 Creative Projects To Make for Your Party or Celebration. Barron’s. Sept. 2017. 96p. illus. index. ISBN 9781438011011. pap. $12.99. CRAFTS
Paper crafter Pascual, food stylist ­Rebecca Woods, and travel writer Phillip Tang present this collection of craft projects, recipes, and costuming ideas for celebrating Day of the Dead. Many of the elements of this traditional Mexican celebration are familiar to American audiences, especially sugar skulls and papel picado, and the authors describe the history and meaning behind these and other traditional arts and crafts associated with Day of the Dead. A selection of recipes ideal for celebrations, suggestions for make-up and costuming for both men and women, and a directory of large, public Day of the Dead celebrations in both the U.S. and Mexico are included. VERDICT Interest in Day of the Dead celebrations continues to grow in the U.S., and this book provides the cultural context and history behind the elements of traditional celebrations, rather than simply presenting the projects as quirky, macabre, Halloween-style crafts.

Fiber Crafts


Brandvig, Jera. Quilt As-You-Go Made Vintage: 51 Blocks, 9 Projects, 3 Joining Methods. Stash: C&T. Sept. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781617454721. pap. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617454738. FIBER CRAFTS
Brandvig (Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern) fuses traditional-style quilt blocks with modern fabrics in her latest collection, which uses the quilt as-you-go technique to break down the quilting process into smaller, less-intimidating chunks. With quilt as-you-go, quilters piece each block, then back it with a batting square and quilt it individually, then join all of the quilted blocks at the end to create a finished quilt. Brandvig features nine projects, including quilts of varying sizes as well as pillows and wall hangings and provides three techniques for assembling the quilted blocks. All of the blocks and quilts can also be made in the traditional way. VERDICT Quilt as-you-go is an excellent way for quilters to practice their free-motion quilting skills on a smaller canvas, and the appealing designs will attract quilters who appreciate the ever-popular vintage modern style.

Higuchi, Yumiko. Simply Stitched with Appliqué: Embroidery Motifs and Projects with Linen, Cotton and Felt. Zakka Workshop. Oct. 2017. 112p. tr. from Japanese by Kyoko Matthews. illus. ISBN 9781940552323. pap. $19.99. FIBER CRAFTS
In her latest book, Higuchi (Simply Stitched) takes a modern approach to embroidery and appliqué, focusing on nature-inspired motifs combining raw-edge appliqué and decorative embroidery. Motifs consist of Scandinavian and folk art–style florals, cute birds and insects (including bees in a hand-stitched honeycomb), and simple, stylized flowers and trees. Many of the appliqué pieces use linen or wool felt, which adds a warm, dimensional look when combined with the embroidery. Embroidery templates and stitch guides are provided for each design, and a beginner-friendly introduction to both embroidery and appliqué supply ample guidance for beginners. Higuchi also demonstrates ways to use embroidery in accessories and household goods, such as a wallet, tea towel, and handbag. VERDICT Stitchers interested in exploring appliqué will find numerous attractive choices in this collection.

McCunn, Don. How To Make Custom-Fit Bras & Lingerie. Design Enterprises of San Francisco. Aug. 2017. 180p. illus. index. ISBN 9780932538383. $35; pap. ISBN 9780932538390. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Veteran pattern designer and sewing instructor McCunn (How To Make Sewing Patterns) brings his considerable knowledge of fit and patternmaking to this guide to sewing bras and lingerie. Five different styles of bras, including bikini-style, bandeau, and athletic bras, are included, as well as a variety of bottoms, such as bikini briefs, thongs, and fitted briefs. Each section details fitting and measurement, as well as sewing instructions for both the basic design and variations. A final chapter on designing a wedding dress seems slightly out of place but highlights additional lingerie designs such as petticoats. VERDICT Bra and lingerie sewing is increasing in popularity, especially in the online sewing community, and McCunn’s expert advice will help experienced sewists design, fit, and sew their own foundation garments and swimwear.

Taylor, Jenniffer. Girl with a Sewing Machine: The No-Fuss Guide to Making and Adapting Your Own Clothes. Search. Jul. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781782214564. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Taylor, a former contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee, brings her retro style to this collection of easy-to-sew projects, including several that repurpose thrift-store finds. The first section focuses on customizing clothes by repurposing or altering them, and the second features easy garments, often showcasing reclaimed fabric. Some garments are a bit sack-like and shapeless, including a top made of two square scarves sewn together, and others are just plain odd, such as the T-shirt that has been altered so “tassels” hang off the arms. Still, Taylor’s easygoing manner and free spirit will appeal to sewists looking for quick, fun projects with a retro vibe. VERDICT Taylor’s easy-to-sew projects will help beginners build confidence, and the down-to-earth tone is a pleasant change from the Pinterest-perfect aesthetic that often plagues similar sewing books.

Interior Design

Gayle A. Williamson, Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

redstarMulfinger, Dale. The Family Cabin: Inspiration for Camps, Cottages, and Cabins. Taunton. Oct. 2017. 256p. photos. ISBN 9781631866524. $34.95. INTERIOR DESIGN
Cabins ranging in “size, shape, color, and building methods, in locations stretched across North America on mountaintops, near streams and lakes, in forests, or even someone’s backyard” are architect Mulfinger’s (coauthor, The Cabin) focus here. For each of the 37 properties, he describes the owner’s housing requirements, the logistics of building on the site, and for most, a plan of the structure and property, all depicted in more than 300 photographs showing cabins that share a respect for the site and the use of natural materials. Each is professionally designed and constructed in styles ranging from rustic to ultramodern. In addition, Mulfinger, whose architectural expertise is in cabin design, intersperses professional tips throughout. VERDICT For readers seeking ideas for an actual cabin or desiring a cabin-like feel in a city dwelling, this book will provide an abundance of inspiration.

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

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