Go Get Your Smock! 9 New Craft/DIY Books

Art Instruction

HEATHER HALLIDAY, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York

redstarFagans, Michael. iPhone Photography for Everybody. Amherst Media. 2017. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781682032909. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781682032916. ART INSTRUCTION
This guide can help us all be better photographers. Every page is packed with dynamic images shot by Fagans, an expert photographer, photo editor, and teacher. His arresting smartphone photos are accompanied by short descriptive stories, with just enough formal and technical information inconspicuously folded in. Ideas for fresh subject matter, tips for improving observational skills, composition basics, and encouragement to experiment are all generously offered. Chapters suggest new approaches to everyday smartphone subjects such as selfies or food and drink; more ambitious subjects include travel, sports, and documentary-style photography. VERDICT Anyone who wants to create smartphone photographs that stand out should pick up this book.

Print Club London. Screenprinting: The Ultimate Studio Guide from Sketchbook to Squeegee. Princeton Architectural. Feb. 2018. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781616896553. pap. $40. ART INSTRUCTION
Print Club London is a coworking-style studio space in London. In this volume, its founders and some of its members pool their advice and share their artwork. An introductory section includes information on equipment, materials, and a brief history of screen printing. The next part presents step-by-step projects teaching the basics of screen printing on paper and textiles. The largest section combines artist profiles with more advanced designs, showing both works in progress and completed prints. Tips for what to do when processes go awry are also included. VERDICT Part studio reference guide, part attractive art book, this work is an invaluable tool for those wishing to learn and/or master this medium and an enjoyable visual experience for just about anyone.



Allingham, Lynn. Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures. Guild of Master Craftsman. Jan. 2018. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781784943660. pap. $24.95. CRAFTS
Photorealistic food is on the menu in this collection, which features tiny dishes for polymer clay artists of all levels. Crafter Allingham begins with a series of techniques commonly used in her projects, including methods for preparing, cutting, and blending clays, adding realistic texture and color, and affixing jewelry findings to finished projects. Each piece is described as beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, and the amount of detail is stunning. Tiny one-inch pancakes are topped with even tinier blueberries, a miniature tart is decorated with doll-size slices of kiwi, and a cheese board looks mouthwateringly realistic. Patience and the ability to work with small shapes is essential; the directions provide a helpful guide. VERDICT Allingham’s delightful creations are perfect for polymer clay jewelrymakers and doll house furniture enthusiasts.

Minter, Laura & Tia Williams. The Space Craft Book: 15 Things a Space Fan Can’t Do Without. Guild of Master Craftsman. Jan. 2018. 64p. illus. ISBN 9781784943653. pap. $9.95. CRAFTS
UK–based bloggers Minter and ­Williams specialize in creative crafts for kids, and their latest collection features a variety of space-themed projects ideal for the K–5 set. Dress-up projects, including astronaut boots made from old rain boots, an astronaut helmet, a rocket pack, and a funky alien costume, set the stage for creative play; a mission control desk with knobs made of repurposed milk caps and a rocket constructed out of cardboard boxes gives little explorers a chance to imagine themselves piloting a spaceship. They also provide suggestions for using their craft projects as the centerpiece for a space-themed party, featuring recipe and game ideas. VERDICT The projects require assistance from a parent or caregiver, but space-mad kids will be over the moon for these fun, customizable projects.

Fiber Crafts


Bothell, Valerie. Joyful Daily Stitching, Seam by Seam: Complete Guide to 500 Embroidery-Stitch Combinations, Perfect for Crazy Quilting. C&T. 2017. 144p. illus. ISBN 9781617455513. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617455520. FIBER CRAFTS
Crazy quilter Bothell challenged herself to stitch a crazy quilt featuring 500 different stitch combinations on 49 blocks. That quilt forms the basis of this book. Bothell begins with two methods for sewing crazy quilt blocks, as well as a dictionary of basic embroidery stitches. The unique heart of the book is the guide to combination embroidery stitches, where Bothell combines multiple stitches, as well as embellishments such as silk ribbon, beads, and buttons, into ornate designs. Stitch combinations are organized by the base stitch (e.g., blanket stitch), and each combination includes a close-up photo of a stitched seam and a caption listing the stitches and embellishments used. VERDICT The stitch combinations will be useful to embroiderers interested in replicating Bothell’s designs but also provide a jumping-off point for creative stitchers to create their own patterns.

Envoldsen-Harris, Carina. Mandalas To Embroider: Kaleidoscope Stitching in a Hoop. Search. Feb. 2018. 80p. illus. ISBN 9781782215448. pap. $13.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Two dozen colorful, mandala-inspired embroidery designs created by Envoldsen-Harris (Transfer & Stitch: Romantic Motifs) are the focus of this collection. Floral motifs figure prominently, including seasonal designs featuring cherry blossoms and poinsettias, as well as stylized and Scandinavian-style flowers. Other designs serve as a showcase of stitches, such as the winter solstice mandala, which includes a variety of decorative stitches in a traditional circular layout. Suggestions for colors and stitches are provided, but stitchers can customize based on individual preferences. Twelve of the mandalas are large (sized to fit in a six-inch hoop), and 12 are miniature (sized to fit in a three-inch hoop), with iron-on transfers provided for each. VERDICT These beginner-friendly designs will provide a meditative stitching experience.

Lubin, Clémentine. A Beginner’s Guide to Overlockers, Sergers & Coverlockers: 50 Lessons & 15 Projects To Get You Started. Search. Feb. 2018. 160p. tr. from French. illus. ISBN 9781782214908. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Sewist Lubin here demystifies the complexities of overlockers, sergers, and coverlockers, providing a straightforward overview of their uses and quirks. The book is divided into projects, which are subdivided into lessons that demonstrate a useful skill or technique. For example, the first project, a zippered makeup pouch, is organized into six individual lessons that cover everything from threading the machine to basic stitching to using an overlocker, serger, or coverlocker to attach a zipper. These skills can then be applied to the other projects, which include a variety of garments, accessories, and a couple home decor pieces. The instructions are nicely presented, with brief steps, close-up photos, and expert tips. VERDICT These machines can be intimidating to beginning sewists, but this comprehensive book breaks the process down into individual steps.

Van der Heijden, Juliet. Animal Quilts: 12 Paper Piecing Patterns for Stunning Animal Quilt Designs. SewandSo. 2017. 128p. illus. ISBN . pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781446376348. w/CD. FIBER CRAFTS
Foundation paper piecing allows quilters to create precise, detailed blocks. This technique is the basis for quilt pattern designer van der Heijden’s fanciful animal quilts. The blocks are large and complex, and the author provides a full tutorial plus numerous hints and tips for foundation paper piecing. Designs include a surprisingly photorealistic butterfly, an owl in flight, a Highland cow (a nod to the author’s Scottish heritage), and a howling wolf silhouetted against a full moon. Ready-to-print foundations are included on a CD; a table listing values for expanding or shrinking the printed foundations is included. VERDICT Although first-timers may want to start with something simpler, these designs are readily accessible to quilters with a basic grasp of foundation paper piecing.

Varnam, Emma. Granny Squares Home: 20 Crochet Projects with a Vintage Vibe. Guild of Master Craftsman. 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781784943639. pap. $19.95. FIBER CRAFTS
Varnham (Cute Crocheted Animals) is drawn to granny squares for their vintage style, and the projects in this collection balance the old-school appeal with contemporary design. The traditional granny-square afghans in a bright, cheery color palate anchor the collection, but ­Varnham also uses granny squares as components for children’s soft toys, home-organization pieces (including a handy pocketed organizer), cushions, and a clever “food cover” (essentially a weighted doily that can be used to cover food and beverage containers to keep insects out while entertaining outdoors). The instructions are clear and photos nicely styled, providing multiple views of each project. VERDICT Ideal for granny-square fans looking for nonafghan projects.

This article was published in Library Journal's February 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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