Master of Your Craft: 13 Fun and New Craft & DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Bac, F. Sehnaz & others. Art on the Rocks: More Than 35 Colorful & Contemporary Rock-painting Projects, Tips, and Techniques To Inspire Your Creativity! Walter Foster: Quarto. May 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781633222168. pap. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633224322. ART INSTRUCTION
Artists Bac, Marisa Redondo, and Margaret Vance here introduce a painting surface that many may not have previously considered: rocks. The authors guide the reader through simple, step-by-step tutorials illustrated with detailed, close-up photographs. Responding to the organic essence of rocks and stones, most of the projects depict animals and natural elements. Patterns, mandalas, and bold colors also figure prominently. Tips are included for finding and selecting stones and matching stone type to drawing or painting medium. One author mentions a preference for stones from the coast of Italy, suggesting this type of artwork could provide a fresh vacation memento. VERDICT This guide is ideal for creative types in search of a novel new format or technique.

Rodriguez, Dina. The Big Awesome Book of Hand & Chalk Lettering. DK. Jul. 2017. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465462725. pap. $19.95. ART INSTRUCTION
Representative of the handmade trend, which continues as an antidote and alternative means of expression in today’s digital world, this guide by hand-lettering expert Rodriguez answers the impulse to design and create decorative words and letters directly by hand. Readers will find 15 step-by-step exercises; lots of technical information about lettering, especially vocabulary for spacing and parts of letters; a tour of various letter styles; composition basics; and even hand-stretching exercises to help warm up. There are lots of practical applications for hand lettering such as gifts, greeting cards, wedding invitations, logos, and, especially with the inclusion here of chalk and chalkboards as media, store and restaurant signage. VERDICT This fun and informative guide would make a popular addition to crafts, hobbies, or art how-to shelves.



Abelew, Theresa D. The Absolute Beginners Guide: Jewelry Making with Resin. Kalmbach. Jun. 2017. 96p. illus. ISBN 9781627004022. pap. $21.99. CRAFTS
Jewelry artist Abelew (Play with Chain Mail) explores the possibilities of crafter’s resin, using it as a filler for premade bezels or molds and as a coating for ribbon, fabric, wood, and paper. Many of the supplies are inexpensive hardware-store components such as washers, paint sticks, and scrap wood, which, when covered with clear or colored resin, are transformed into unique works of art. Projects range from beginner-level filled bezels featuring vintage photos or artwork to stylish, modern designs. Abelew provides guidance and suggestions for first-time resin crafters as well as tips for combining resin with a variety of natural and manufactured objects. VERDICT Resin is a versatile compound with numerous applications for jewelrymakers, and this guide walks novices through a series of basic and sophisticated projects in an easy-to-follow manner.

Bolitho, Mark . The Art and Craft of Geometric Origami. Princeton Architectural. (Perfectly Mindful Origami). Oct. 2017. 128p. illus. photos by Brent Darby. ISBN 9781616896348. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS
Bolitho (The Origami Home) combines paper-folding and geometry in this collection that includes both one-piece and modular pieces in a variety of shapes. Items range from the classic four-pyramid fortune-teller popular among school-age children to complex, multisided shapes. The modular designs feature anywhere from two to 90 pieces. Although origami lends itself to paying attention to the present moment, the mindfulness of the series title seems to be used as a marketing term—there’s only a brief discussion of the relationship between origami and mindfulness. Still, the models themselves are fascinating, and there’s plenty here to appeal to both amateur and experienced paper artists. VERDICT The combination of thorough, helpful instruction, geometry, and one-piece and modular models will appeal to crafters interested in trying something different with origami.



Cao, K.L. DIY Temporary Tattoo Art: Easy Step-by-Step Instructions for Watercolor, Henna, Flash Tattoos, and More! Adams Media. Jul. 2017. 176p. illus. ISBN 9781507202371. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781507202388. DIY
Go beyond traditional accessories with some chic body art. First-time author and popular beauty vlogger Cao here offers some of her projects in book format. This collection includes skin, hair, and nail applications. Each project is nicely laid out, with a list of materials and clear, easy-to-follow instructions. The more interesting plans include UV-activated paint and gold leaf applications. Design templates are included. VERDICT This book does not exclusively deal with tattoos, and the diversity of styles will appeal to a wide audience. For a specific focus on temporary tattoos, see Pepper Baldwin’s DIY Temporary Tattoos. Recommended.

Iwai, Terutoshi. Miniature Bonsai: The Complete Guide to Super-Mini Bonsai. Tuttle. Aug. 2017. 80p. tr. from Japanese by Leeyong Soo. illus. ISBN 9784805314388. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781462919451. DIY
The size of traditional bonsai ranges from about four to 24 inches, but supermini bonsai is one inch or less. Bonsai expert and instructor Iwai introduced this diminutive version of the plant. Here, the author provides a quick overview, followed by planting, materials, and tools. Propagation and growing methods are well detailed. Instructions include how to use moss for moisture retention, shaping the plant, and proper potting. Beautiful photographs clearly illustrate steps and techniques. VERDICT The guidance is superior, and there is little information on this variety of bonsai. However, the suggested supplies and materials are Japanese, with no alternatives suggested for the U.S. market. Still, this work provides a great way to start cultivating bonsai as there is less growth time.

Fiber Crafts


Aldridge, Kelley. Raised Embroidery: Techniques, Projects & Pure Inspiration. Search. Jun. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781782211891. pap. $35. FIBER CRAFTS
Raised embroidery is an elaborate, three-dimensional technique that uses embroidery stitches to create a textured, decorative effect. Aldridge, an instructor with the Royal School of Needlework (RSN), demonstrates stitches used in raised embroidery as well as a series of small projects that showcase the method. This stitch guide is organized by type (e.g., raised stitches, needlelace stitches), allowing embroiderers to move directly to the options appropriate for their project. Each stitch is shown in detail with both step-by-step instructions and close-up photographs, and the project directions are presented in a similar manner. A gallery of pieces stitched by RSN students and instructors that showcase the beauty of raised embroidery is featured throughout the book. VERDICT Embroiderers interested in incorporating three-dimensional stitching and wirework into their projects will find plenty of guidance and inspiration here.

Alm, Sara. Designing Clothes with the Flat Pattern Method: Customize Fitting Shells To Create Garments in Any Style. Creative Pub. Int’l: Quarto. May 2017. 176p. illus. ISBN 9781589239340. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781631593604. FIBER CRAFTS
Patternmaker and sewing instructor Alm (coauthor, Famous Frocks) explores the process of using a master pattern (or sloper) to develop customized garment patterns. The master pattern serves as a foundation that can be adapted in a number of ways, from simple changes such as raising or lowering a waistline or hemline to more complex adjustments such as adding pleats. Alm’s instructions are organized by garment type (e.g., pants, skirts, bodices), and each adjustment features thorough examples of a specific technique. However, how to produce the master pattern isn’t covered in detail, so sewists needing careful guidance may wish to consult another work on the topic. VERDICT Sewists who have devised their own master patterns and are interested in original ways to customize garments will discover an assortment of details, styles, and adjustments in this book.

Betzina, Sandra. All New Fabric Savvy: How To Choose & Use Fabrics. Taunton. Aug. 2017. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631868412. pap. $26.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Betzina’s Fabric Savvy has been an indispensable addition to the garment sewist’s bookshelf since its original publication in 1999, and the latest version improves upon the content of the 2004 edition. It’s an encyclopedia of sewing fabrics, with each fabric presented in a standard format with tips, tricks, and techniques on a spread. Updates include refreshed photos of garments and accessories as well as additions of fabrics that didn’t appear in previous editions, such as chirimen (a traditional Japanese kimono fabric), stretch mesh, quilter’s cotton, and oilcloth. Betzina also incorporates new products, such as the popular Pilot FriXion erasable pen, into the sections on working with fabrics. VERDICT Ideal for sewists interested in making the best possible fabric choices for garment sewing and those with an interest in specialty fabrics.

Delaney, Sara. Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves. Storey. Oct. 2017. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612126586. spiral. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612126593. FIBER CRAFTS
In this guide, Delaney (How To Crochet) explores crochet design using accessories such as scarves, cowls, hats, and mittens as jumping-off points for budding designers. The process centers on a template based on gauge, stitch details, and style preferences, which serve as the basis for each unique, custom-fit piece. A variety of predesigned patterns that can be used as-is or adapted are provided, as well as the template for each pattern, give crocheters insight into Delaney’s creativity. The result is similar to Amy Herzog’s popular knitting books, which build confidence and design skills simultaneously. VERDICT Crocheters interested in exploring the design process or customizing their own small accessories will appreciate Delaney’s well-explained, straightforward method, as well as the abundance of examples of design templates in use.

Russell, Amanda & Juliet Bawden. Fat Quarter Home: 25 Projects To Make from Short Lengths of Fabric. Guild of Master Craftsman. Jun. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784943851. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Fat quarters are the most common precut fabric, and many quilters have a significant stash in their materials collections. Designers Russell and Bawden are best known for their home interior makeovers, and the pieces in this book bring their clean, colorful aesthetic to small-home decor design. The projects are divided by interior space or room (e.g., living room, kitchen), and each uses one (or more) fat quarters as the focal fabric. Designs include decorated bed linens and towels, storage pieces such as a shoe bag, and items such as pillow covers. The directions are straightforward, and the projects require basic knowledge of machine sewing techniques. VERDICT Beginning sewists interested in using fat quarters to bring a pop of color to their home decor will find plenty of choices here.

Visual Guide to Patchwork & Quilting: Fabric Selection to Finishing Techniques & Beyond. Stash: C&T. Sept. 2017. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781617455612. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617455629. FIBER CRAFTS
This beginner-friendly guide to patchwork and quilting takes a straightforward, basics-and-beyond approach to the quiltmaking process. Experts such as Becky Goldsmith (color theory and fabric choice), Alex Anderson (appliqué and hand quilting), and Elizabeth Hartman (basic piecing, machine quilting, and finishing techniques) take on a specific topic and provide thoughtful guidance and professional-level tips and tricks. Specialized techniques, such as crazy quilting, longarm quilting, English paper piecing, and foundation paper piecing, are also covered. Each section includes a combination of step-by-step instruction and helpful tips followed by a project. VERDICT The breadth and depth of coverage, particularly with regard to beginner-level topics, will be useful to quilters looking for a thorough guide on mastering the quilting basics.

Interior Design

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

Cullman, Elissa & Tracey Pruzan. From Classic to Contemporary: Decorating with Cullman & Kravis. Monacelli. Sept. 2017. 272p. photos. ISBN 9781580934961. $65. INTERIOR DESIGN
Founded in 1984, the New York City interior design firm of Cullman & Kravis has created interiors for society’s elite—from penthouses to country homes. Here, founding partner Cullman and senior designer Pruzan showcase, in close to 200 color photographs, 12 of their recent commissions located primarily in wealthy enclaves of the East Coast, such as Palm Beach, FL, the Hamptons, and Manhattan. The authors describe the challenges and strategies of each residence as well as the considerations required to accommodate their clients’ lifestyles and tastes. The chapter displaying Cullman’s own renovated home, with before and after photos, is particularly illuminating for its presentation on how the firm reinvigorated their previous design. VERDICT Of importance and interest for its lavish photographs of professionally designed interiors by a prestigious firm.

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



  1. Thank you for the fantastic list – so many books, so little time! :)

  2. Visual Guide to Patchwork is definitely something I would consider buying for my wife. Thank you for the list!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind