Finding Your Creative Side : 9 New Craft/DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

Art Studio: Dogs; More Than 50 Projects and Techniques for Drawing, Painting, and Creating 25+ Breeds in Oil, Acrylic, Pencil, and More! Walter Foster: Quarto. (Art Studio). 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781633223646. pap. $19.99. ART INSTRUCTION
Running through a dog show’s worth of breeds, this guide by the Walter Foster creative team tours various art media, techniques, and styles. An especially helpful introductory section discusses rendering tricky canine features in different media and includes handy visual reference technique thumbnails. Subsequent chapters are devoted to basic realistic drawing; pencil sketching; oil and acrylic painting; pop art style; and mixed media. Fifty step-by-step projects walk readers through creating their own drawn, painted, and collaged portraits of dogs. A bonus doodle section departs from strict realism to offer fun, comic character-like canine depictions. VERDICT Dog lovers of beginning and intermediate skill levels will find the friendly subject matter engaging.

Castle, Ron. Real Estate Photography for Everybody: Boost Your Sales with any Camera. Amherst Media. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781682033029. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781682033036. ART INSTRUCTION
Though photographer Castle’s practical guide is primarily aimed at new or prospective real estate photographers, the basic technical information and simple staging and composition advice can be helpful to anyone. Six sample homes (most furnished) are featured, including tips on what not to shoot and how to get the most out of one’s images. Both interior and exterior views, including a few shot with drones, are covered. A short section on business practice for real estate photographers is included. VERDICT This photography how-to book has good crossover potential among the hobbies, architecture, homeownership, and occupational subject needs of users.



Liu, Fang & Yue Yunyun. Paper Flowers Chinese Style: Create Handmade Gifts and Decorations. Better Link. 2017. 200p. tr. from Chinese by Zhao Gang. illus. ISBN 9781602200302. $24.95. CRAFTS
Liu and Yunyun, two experts in the art of handcrafting paper flowers, share their knowledge in this guide to creating 24 different varieties of lifelike flowers, which are presented seasonally and tied to the 24 solar terms of the Chinese calendar. Each project is described in an introduction, which also provides an illustrated listing of the materials and tools required. Directions include brief steps and ­corresponding photographs, while suggestions for displaying each flower in the traditional Chinese manner emphasizes their natural beauty. Hand-drawn templates for petals, leaves, and other components are provided. VERDICT The realistic beauty of the flowers in this collection make them ideal for both home decor and wedding crafts.

Patford, Gemma. Roped In: Creative Craft Products Made with Rope (and Other Awesome Things). Hardie Grant. 2017. 176p. illus. ISBN 9781741175257. pap. $19.99. CRAFTS
Patford, an Australian crafts and lifestyle blogger, shows off her quirky style in this collection of projects, many of which are made with cotton rope. The standard technique is to create rope coils and sew them together with the zigzag stitch on a sewing machine, then continue to gather, sculpt, and stitch the rope until it forms the desired shape—rounded vessel, flat rug, tube. Acrylic paint can be used to embellish the rope, but the splattered-paint look that features prominently won’t suit everyone’s tastes (some projects looks sloppy and amateurish). In addition to the rope projects, there are recipes and simple craft designs for kids, pets, and the home. VERDICT Crafters looking for a variety of simple, fun projects with a retro-modern feel will enjoy Patford’s creations.



Clements, Howard. Making Tiny Toys in Wood: Ornaments & Collectible Heirloom Accents. Fox Chapel. 2017. 48p. illus. ISBN 9781565239159. pap. $12.99. DIY
If you have wood left over from other projects, here are patterns to which those scraps can be applied. Woodworker and first-time author Clements provides a very specific collection of small toy ornaments with moving parts. Patterns include trucks, boats, waterwheels, and those of a similar vein. There are excellent step-by-step instructions for the first toy with the following projects generally outlined. Cutting lists and exploded view are included. VERDICT These patterns are clever and great for the confident woodworker looking for unique projects, but the ornaments, some of which have moving or removable parts, are too small to be safe for young children. Readers seeking child-friendly carved toys should see Steve Tomashek’s Tiny Whittling.

London Centre for Book Arts. Making Books: A Guide to Creating Handcrafted Books. Princeton Architectural. 2017. 192p. illus. ISBN 9781616896317. $35. DIY
Readers learn the basics of bookmaking with this manual by the London Centre for Book Arts, a London-based studio that teaches the craft of bookbinding. Included are 13 binding projects progressing from simple pamphlets to sophisticated case bindings, each utilizing different binding techniques. An introduction to equipment and tools is somewhat awkwardly arranged and not all tools listed are illustrated. Foundation skills are not repeated in subsequent projects. While the projects are cleanly illustrated, the general appearance is bland. VERDICT This instructional book is rather academic in tone and illustration, not particularly beginner friendly. For more artistically appealing bookmaking, see Erica Ekrem’s Bound.

Fiber Crafts


Victoria and Albert Museum. Embroidery: A Maker’s Guide. Thames & Hudson. Jan. 2018. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9780500293270. pap. $24.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Global traditions of embroidery are explored in this guide, produced in conjunction with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Techniques are divided into categories, including counted-thread and canvas work, freestyle embroidery, and whitework, with additional chapters for embellishment techniques and contemporary embroidery. Each individual technique includes a brief history with photos of artifacts from the V&A, plus a project using readily accessible fabrics and threads. Coverage includes both the usual (blackwork, goldwork, crewel embroidery) as well as techniques that are less commonly seen in Western embroidery, such as phulkari, a technique native to the Punjab region, and Japanese Ainu appliqué. VERDICT While the coverage isn’t comprehensive, this collection provides an overview of a wide variety of techniques, and stitchers interested in global traditions of embroidery will find plenty to explore.

Lincecum, Steffani. Sewing Machine Magic: Make the Most of Your Machine. Creative Pub. Int’l: Quarto. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589239500. pap. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781631594427. FIBER CRAFTS
Lincecum (Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit) provides an overview of sewing machine basics and presser foot essentials in this concise guide with simple projects throughout. A quick quiz at the beginning of the book helps sewists find their “sewing personality,” which can assist in choosing the right sewing machine. ­Lincecum then walks through tips for adjusting thread tension, threading the bobbin, choosing the best needle for the job, and more. The bulk of the book focuses on the various types of presser feet and their uses, with each presser foot shown in various configurations (e.g., snap-on, high shank) and Lincecum’s instructions on how to use it. VERDICT Novices who are unsure about which presser foot to use for a particular sewing task will find this straightforward guide useful.

redstarVogue Knitting Magazine Eds. Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book; Completely Revised & Updated. Sixth&Spring. Feb. 2018. 352p. illus. photos. index. ISBN 9781942021698. $39.95. FIBER CRAFTS
This revised and updated edition of the classic knitting guide continues the tradition of comprehensive information presented in a clear, concise manner. Significant content has been added on designing knitting patterns (with separate chapters for sweaters, shawls, and accessories), with photographs and overall design updated, and information reorganized to make it more accessible. The book is arranged by topic, with each chapter providing an in-depth guide to a specific skill or technique. A footer at the bottom of each page provides page references for topics addressed in the text or diagrams. Full-color photographs and detailed drawings illustrate each topic, and the editors intersperse expert tips and techniques throughout. VERDICT An essential addition to the knitter’s bookshelf.

This article was published in Library Journal's February 1, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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