Pass Me My Paintbrush: 13 New Craft/DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

redstarAdam, Rhiannon. Polaroid: The Complete Guide to Experimental Instant Photography. Thames & Hudson. Oct. 2017. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780500544600. $29.95. ART INSTRUCTION
Analog photographic processes are currently experiencing a bit of a revival. The invention of the Polaroid allowed photographers to see results within minutes, instead of waiting hours or days to have film developed and printed. Digital photography later eliminated that waiting period altogether. Polaroids can induce nostalgia in those of us old enough to remember their predigital use and offer a way for digital natives to investigate analog photography. A substantial portion of photographer Adam’s guide lists types of instant cameras and their films, noting modern replacement models and which vintage types can still be applied. The remainder consists of detailed step-by-step Polaroid experimental processes and manipulations. VERDICT For photographers and fans of the medium, Adam offers a decoder ring for using instant cameras today.

Gonzales, Annie O’Brien. The Joy of Acrylic Painting: Expressive Painting Techniques for Beginners. North Light. Nov. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781440351211. pap. $24.99. ART INSTRUCTION
Painter Gonzales’s book guides readers through gathering ideas and inspiration, selecting tools and materials, assessing any prior painting skills, then practicing and developing new skills. Step-by-step projects, intriguing quotations from successful artists, diagrams, and even troubleshooting plans are found throughout. Gonzales, who lives in New Mexico, draws heavily upon the influences of Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and David Hockney, painting in a style characterized by bright colors, simple shapes, abstraction or distortion, and strong use of patterns. Many examples of the author’s paintings are reproduced throughout. VERDICT The approachable and forgiving medium of acrylic paint is a natural choice for beginner artists, but this guide can help spur anyone’s creativity with its tips, encouragement, and the wide range of techniques presented.



The Big Book of Jewelry Making: 75 Projects To Create. Guild of Master Craftsman. Sept. 2017. 360p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784941185. pap. $19.95. CRAFTS
This jewelry project book features an abundance of small projects using a variety of jewelrymaking techniques, including stringing, simple wirework, resin, polymer clay, and knotting. Each project includes a supply list as well as step-by-step text and visual instructions and photos of the finished project. Styles range from quirky cat photos, plastic beads, or guitar picks to glamorous hair ornaments, necklaces, and rings. The book wraps up with a surprisingly thorough overview of jewelrymaking tools, materials, and techniques, providing enough information for novices to get started with any of the projects. VERDICT With this many projects in this many styles, jewelrymakers are likely to find something intriguing and inspiring.

Shapiro, Emilie. Creative Wax Carving: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Craft with 15 Jewelry Projects. Lark Crafts: Sterling. Oct. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454709329. $24.95. CRAFTS
Jewelrymaking instructor Shapiro demonstrates the process of wax carving for creating jewelry models in this in-depth guide. The carved wax is then used to create a mold, which can be used to cast copies of the piece in metal—an ancient process known as lost wax casting. Shapiro focuses on the carving process (she suggests using a casting house for the metal casting piece), describing the various tools, processes, skills, and techniques that are used to sculpt a variety of jewelry pieces. A selection of projects, including several beginner-level pieces, put the techniques into practice. VERDICT This book won’t take jewelrymakers from design to finished product—they’ll need to work with a casting house for the final step of casting the piece in metal—but it does provide a comprehensive overview of the wax-casting process.



Collins, Matt . 50 Things To Do with a Penknife. Princeton Architectural. Oct. 2017. 144p. illus. by Maria Nilsson. ISBN 9781616896386. $16.95. DIY
What can you do with a pocket knife? With the resurgence of traditional hand carving, Collins, a British horticulturist and first-time author, adds to the growing field of titles on the topic. The materials here are mostly wood but also incorporate cork and food carving or prep (e.g., cutting up onions). The instructions are fine, but the line drawing illustrations lack needed details and a few projects require additional tools. While many of these projects are simplistic, some are unique, such as the wood flower and several jewelry pieces. ­VERDICT Carvers interested in new projects might find a few ideas here, but better instruction for carving or whittling can be found in Rick Wiebe’s Classic Whittling.

redstarWhitney, Sue. Junk Beautiful: Furniture ReFreshed; 30 Clever Furniture Projects To Transform Your Home. Taunton. Sept. 2017. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781631868375. pap. $24.95. DIY
Whitney, creator of JUNKMARKET (­, which focuses on using refurbished finds in decor, and the author of previous books on the topic (e.g., Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition), here offers 30 clever projects. While some of the designs require rather specific pieces, most are easily adaptable. Readers are introduced to tools, finishes, and safety, with great advice on how to find items for repurposing. Unique projects include a charging station, a rolling desk, and breakfast table. The illustrations are excellent and instruction is spot-on. The text is peppered with tips and advice on design, project materials, and checks for a successful transformation. VERDICT Sure to be popular, this book is highly recommended.

Fiber Crafts


Cline, Barbara H. Magic Add-A-Strip Quilts: Transform Simple Shapes into Dynamic Designs. C&T. Nov. 2017. 64p. illus. ISBN 9781617455537. pap. $22.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Longtime quilter and quilt instructor Cline (Amazingly Simple Triangle Stars) shares a technique that turns everyday quilt blocks into something fresh and different: cut pieces on a set angle and sew in a one-inch strip of contrasting fabric. The result is quilts with a unique sense of movement—including zigzags and other repeating line patterns, as well as stained glass effects. Each design features blocks of a similar type (e.g., squares cut into two right triangles with the one-inch strip stitched in the middle) that are arranged to form a pattern. Projects range from simple, precut-friendly quilts to designs with complex assembly. VERDICT While the idea of slicing quilt blocks and adding a strip isn’t new, Cline’s designs demonstrate the potential of this technique, and open quilters up to trying their own variations.

Fassett, Kaffe. Welcome Home Kaffe Fassett. new ed. Landauer. Aug. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781947163003. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Over the span of his lengthy career, ­Fassett has earned a name for himself as an artist and designer whose works include painting, quilting, surface design, needlepoint, mosaic, and rag rugs. This new edition gives readers a look inside Fassett’s Edwardian-era home, which is decorated in his signature style. Every surface is embellished, and every shelf features items from one of Fassett’s many collections, which include everything from traditional blue-and-white pottery to smiling Buddhas. Crafters interested in bringing Fassett’s style into their own homes can complete one of the projects, which include quilts, mosaics, and hooked rag rugs. VERDICT There’s nothing minimal about Fassett, and readers will be fascinated with his ability to turn the traditional into something unusual and unexpected.

Finnanger, Tone. Tilda Sewing by Heart: For the Love of Fabrics. SewandSo. Nov. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781446306710. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781446376461. FIBER CRAFTS
Finnanger, the fabric designer behind the Tilda line of fabrics, shares a series of patchwork projects that highlight the cheery-yet-sophisticated prints typical of her fabric collections. The projects include an array of quilts, pillows, stuffed toys, and accessories (e.g., pincushions), as well as a small collection of Christmas-themed designs (a quilt, a Christmas stocking, and a stuffed Santa). Each project features step-by-step instructions, with dimensions given in both imperial and metric units, as well as piecing and layout diagrams and illustrations covering key steps. Patterns and appliqué templates, as well as a brief overview of techniques used, are included in the appendix. VERDICT Fans of Amy Butler, Camille Roskelley, and Lori Holt will appreciate Finnanger’s combination of colorful fabrics, clever patchwork, and sweet appliqué.

Menardi, Riane & others. Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. Stash: C&T. Dec. 2017. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781617455988. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617455995. FIBER CRAFTS
The history of the modern quilting movement is traced in this gallery of quilt designs presented by Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton, and Heather Grant, staff members from the Modern Quilt Guild, the foremost organization for quilters. The authors trace the roots of the modern quilting movement to 20th-century pieces, including Gee’s Bend quilts, describing the framework set by early adopters such as Denyse Schmidt and Bill Kerr. Each section of the book focuses on a different quality or characteristic of it (e.g., improvisation, use of negative space, minimalism). Exhibits in the book include quilts from both well-known artists and up-and-coming designers. VERDICT This inspiring work documents this vital movement in American craft and helps better define what modern quilting is about. An excellent addition to contemporary craft collections.

Plummer, Alicia & Melissa Schaschwary. Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns. Interweave. Nov. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN 9781632505941. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781632505965. FIBER CRAFTS
As fledgling knitting designers, ­Plummer and Schaschwary met on Ravelry, an online community for knitters and crocheters, eventually developing a brand of their own—Plum Dandi. This collection of 23 all-new designs uses luxury yarns in a variety of weights to create sophisticated, cozy pieces. Standouts include the Genesee cardigan, with its simple lace edging; the Delafield wrap, which combines a super-bulky yarn and an oversize cable; and the Langlade pullover, with lace detailing up the arm. Some of the styling choices are odd—who goes on a hike wearing an all-white ensemble? If your feet are cold enough for thick socks, why aren’t you wearing pants? But these are minor detractions from the attractive knitwear and accessories. VERDICT Plummer and ­Schaschwary’s quietly sophisticated designs are an excellent match for luxury yarn.

Tresselt, Lydia. Lalylala’s Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies: A Crochet Story of Tiny Creatures and Big Dreams. SewandSo. Nov. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781446306666. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781446376324. FIBER CRAFTS
Amigurumi designer Tresselt, known as Lalylala to her online fans, explores the insect world with a whimsical story of a curious caterpillar and her garden friends. It starts with a tiny egg, which hatches to become a caterpillar. (Other eggs hatch into snails, maggots, and beetles.) As the caterpillar snacks on a leaf, she meets a menagerie of insects. The story is followed by instructions for each of the creatures, as well as general amigurumi tips and tricks. Many of the pieces and shapes are interchangeable and customizable, and Tresselt provides directions for a variety of common butterfly and moth wing patterns and insect bodies. VERDICT Tresselt’s insects can be used as both decorative objects and as educational tools to demonstrate the life cycles of butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles.

Interior Design

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

Grant, Jason . Modern Retro Home. Hardie Grant. Sept. 2017. 256p. photos by Lauren Bamford. ISBN 9781742709925. $40. INTERIOR DESIGN
Australian interior stylist Grant (A Place Called Home) arranges interiors for photo shoots appearing in magazines such as House & Garden, Real Living, and Elle Decoration UK. Here, he visits homes that use furnishings and decorative accessories from the 1950s through 1980s in their decor. In more than 200 color photographs, Grant shows kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, baths, and gardens depicting a bohemian look—think houseplants and moody colors—rather than an austere style typically associated with midcentury modern design. Captions contain Grant’s tips on how these furnishings have been successfully incorporated into the inhabitants’ style. VERDICT These casual, homey interiors accompanied by Grant’s professional advice provide ideas for those interested in using late 20th-century furnishings in their own homes.

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

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