Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Book Reviews

I've bought some great arts and crafts books lately and have been meaning to share the titles with you but keep forgetting. So today, in lieu of a proper post, I thought I'd go link crazy and share them all at once. I'm using my Amazon affiliate links because I love that you can just click on the picture and be taken to the web page for the book. It's not a money making thing. I haven't even made a penny in the three years I've been an affiliate; it's an ease of use thing.

Inspiritu Jewelry:

Admittedly, this book is a little bit hokey with the whole premise being that you can do 'medicine' with objects as well as herbs and science; but somehow she makes it work. Her projects are gorgeous and I love the idea of making yourself (or someone else) something beautiful to remind you of an area in your life you're working on or need help with - like for me, my health. The author opens each project with some back story of who the jewelry was for, what was troubling them and why she chose the items she did to include in the piece.  It's a real personal way to share the content and I was completely drawn in to her world and world view - almost like you can be when reading a great novel.
The only downside with this book is it's reliance on found objects. If you don't have the time or resources to run about finding things, it can be a little bit frustrating. But that's why we've got Etsy, right? She dodges this issue a bit with very general materials lists for each project (bead, metal discs, wire... deer skin!), but in my opinion, if I went to JoAnn and picked up the needed supplies the piece wouldn't have the same worn, history-filled characteristics. 
One thing I LOVED about this book was the different creams and teas she supplies recipes for as well as the positive mantras like, 
"One step at a time, one day at a time, life can become better and better."
 As a person suffering chronic pain, I'm very interested the soothing and the positive. I first got this at the library and was so sad to part with it that I bought it. At under ten bucks it's cheaper then most magazines I read.
Creative Bloom

What can I say about Jennifer Swift's book other then she inspires me like crazy and makes the coolest things out of wire. If you recall, I made this from one of her tutorials to dip my toe in the water of wire bending:

Her book has eight chapters chock-full of projects ranging from badges to flowers and nests. My favorite is a the art journal with a wire coiled binding... or the assemblage... or the wall hangings. 

It's all very cool and colorful; complex but do-able. Jennifer's writing style imparts confidence in the reader and makes you want to drop everything and make something - with wire. 

Sewn By Hand

This was another library book that I renewed the maximum number of times (nine weeks!) and still couldn't get enough of. I've been working through the projects in it and absolutely love her quiet confidence and simple, endearing style. While I'm not entirely sold on the "sewn by hand" emphasis on hand sewing being superior to machine sewing, she makes her case well - portability is certainly a plus. I've hand-sewed her sewing kit (I'll post it soon) and was very pleased with the instructions and results but I'll probably make her gorgeous pillows on my sewing machine *gasp* and do all the decorative work by hand. In life, you need balance and for us, pillows need the toughness of machine stitching - plus I don't have unlimited crafting time. Oh, that I did! (Did anyone else just have a shudder of fear that in some Monkey's Paw-esque twist of fate something horrible is going to happen providing me with the luxury of time on my hands? That story messed with my head.)  

I took my project to Starbucks one night and sandwiched myself in amongst the sea of laptops and text-ers; I felt a little self-conscious that someone was going to wonder if I am Amish or a Luddite (J/K), then I realized how frantic and intense everyone seemed. I sat there, sipping and stitching and knew Susan Wasinger had won me over to the hand stitching side.

Zakka Style

Rashida Coleman-Hale's first book, I Love Patchwork: 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew is a favorite of mine and her palette pin cushion that I made is one of my most used and prized sewing items.
Wanna see:

So when her new book came out I was hitting refresh four times a day at the library website hoping to see it arrive. Well, it never did so I bought it, sight unseen, brewed myself a cup of tea and settled in to devour it thoroughly. My first reaction was shock and disappointment as the book is compiled by Rashida, the projects are not hers. Once I stopped freaking out I calmed down enough to realize that this is a GREAT book full of the sort of things you would expect this author to associate her name and reputation with. 

The projects all have an abundance of zakka style and pair natural linen with funky modern, bright fabrics. They run the gamut from coasters to quilts with a lot of interesting additions like a bread carrying bag and hand warmers. While none of the projects vary too much from things I've seen before - I read a lot of books featuring this style - I love having so many high-quality instructions in one place and I can easily imagine making several of the patterns this spring. For me, that's the sign of a very good book. 

Dusty Diablos

I'm a massive fan of Michael DeMeng as you can see by these projects of mine:

But somehow, I've never bought any of his books. Huh? So when I ran across Dusty Diablos: Folklore, Iconography, Assemblage, Ole! I didn't hesitate to snatch it up. In addition to containing a GIRORMOUS amount of inspiration... on every single page... he has awesome materials lists that include things like chips, salsa, beer and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy so you can pass the time pleasantly while your bottle caps are "aging" and what not.

 I'm totally in love with this book. Seriously. At the conclusion of my first read-through I asked my husband for a blow torch. Yeah... it's good like that. My favorite thing about this books that he covers a lot of basic knowledge you need if you want to make any kind of aged, grungy, distressed assemblage. Sections include , "tricky burnt paper routine" and "Techniques to age stuff in less than five hundred years" or "mysterious frozen caveman trick" plus much more.

While there isn't a ton of stepped out projects, there is an abundance of process, teaching and story-telling that immerses you in his wonderful, strange, magical world. 

Wow! This post was a monster. If you got this far, thanks for hanging out with me. 

What good arts and crafts have you read lately?


Ayana said...

None! But I am adding all of these to my Amazon wish list!

Carmen said...

Well I'm glad I did come and check out the post. I haven't heard of any of these titles but love the sound of them all. I'm going to leave this page open so I can add to my wishlist later. (just off on school run now)

That last book especially sounds good!