On picking this book up, I had never heard of the Baltimore Album style, but apparently this specific type of quilt block was popular during the 1840s in Baltimore. They were created to reflect an image of life at that time, and some reflected (in a somewhat hidden way) not just the day to day of the women who made them, but their political opinions as well. The patterns included here range from table rugs to pillows to sewing notions, and instruction on felting wool, making patterns, and appliquéing with felted wool are provided. These projects have bold color, fine detail, and certainly reflect the skill and time required to create them. Some also include details about the history of the content, such as the symbolism of various fruit used in the cornucopia table rug. Templates are also included.
This picture book, published in association with Amnesty International, is one of a growing number of titles aimed at bringing political awareness to young children. In this story, a family flees their home country to settle in a place where, unlike in the country they fled, all the children are able to attend school, but they quickly find that the limited options in their new home are also unsatisfying. This unrest is illustrated by the three monotone sweater options available to children: solid green, orange, or grey. The mother, tired of seeing the children looking “like an army” in their matching clothing, unravels three sweaters and uses the wool to knit multicolored versions which soon become a trend. This seemingly inconsequential thing brings joy to everyone and illustrates the point that small actions can spread out and become larger ones. The illustrations are also restricted to a limited color palette (mostly but not completely green, orange, grey, and black) and use knitting symbols and imagery throughout for a very effective and striking look. The last couple pages include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which may spur further questions and discussion.
full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Enchanted Lion Books
This book looks at a variety of techniques and inspiration points and encourages the reader to create unique pieces. Many of the techniques may seem basic, but used in the ways shown, look anything but basic. Most of the techniques will be familiar to crafters. A few of the inspiration points, though, are possibly inappropriate – an African mask is used, but its origin is not given more specificity (Africa is a big continent with many people and one mask cannot possibly be representative of all of them) and a Hula dancer is treated as a pin-up girl, which seems outright disrespectful, for example. It’s a bummer that an otherwise useful book is kind of ruined by these insensitive inclusions.
Color is such a big part of so many creative projects. Barbé starts out with a primer on color theory, so even if you haven’t studied art, you’ll have the basics. She then moves into using color in the world as inspiration and how to capture the colors you have seen elsewhere in the materials you’ll use to make. Finally, she offers five projects with instructions so you can make them yourself and see the concepts from the book illustrated. DMC color numbers are listed for the sample palettes included.
The Halloween Blythe Swap was a lot of fun again this year! My partner has now had the chance to post her photos of her received package, so I, in turn, was able to upload my video of what I sent to her.
What I sent:
And what I received:
Thanks to both my partners, Jane and Jenna, for such an awesome swap!
A well-crafted home: inspiration and 60 projects for personalizing your space by Janet Crowther
This book is part of the current trend of making decor that will appear to be used or vintage. For many of them, you might be able to find materials at an estate sale or flea market, but you could also use new materials from Home Despot or your local hardware store. Each project is designated with a skill level and includes a finished size, so it’s easy to see at a glance if a particular project will work for both your ability and the space you have in mind. This aesthetic of this book, with matte color photos filled with tone-on-tone shades of cream, and its projects will appeal to fans of the decor on Fixer Upper. I feel like a few of these might actually be things that they’ve done on that show! The textiles used in the sample projects make you wish you could put your hands on them – you can almost feel the linen used to make a pillowcase and duvet. The book closes with instructions for a few of the techniques used, including several types of dyeing, a few ways of sewing seams, basic woodworking techniques, leather cutting, and distressing a mirror for an antique look. Like most books of this type, you may end up spending more on materials than you would buying a pre-made shabby chic item at a big box store, but the goal Crowther espouses is to enjoy the process as much as the product.
This book focuses on projects, providing instructions for making a finished object (or embellishing an existing piece of clothing) that includes embroidery or needlework, but the motifs could easily be used in other contexts as well. Needlework designs are charted in color and black outline sketches are provided for embroidery designs. The designs here are cute but not super stylized – if you looked at the projects all collected together, it would not necessarily be apparent that they were all designed by one person. This could be seen as a negative (the collection lacks cohesion) but could also be viewed as a positive in that you could create all of the items and not have it be obvious that you got every one of them from the same source.
This book offers ideas and inspiration for embroidery on paper (and cardstock, etc) in the form of cards, ornaments, folders, notebooks, frame-able art, and more. The first half of the book consists of color photographs showing the many projects and the second half, the motifs. The motif templates include some basic stitch instruction (the Olympus 25 embroidery thread color number, the number of threads, and type of stitch used) along with (if applicable) instructions for assembling the item. The feel of the whole book is sweet and will be familiar to fans of Japanese culture. The designs include abstract designs as well as letters and numbers, creatures and items from nature, and an assortment of other types of cute things.
Pen to Thread: 750 hand-drawn embroidery designs to inspire your stitches by Sarah Watson
Watson, an illustrator and designer, has collected her favorite motifs to create using embroidery. Also included are instructions for getting started and basic embroidery techniques, illustrated with both color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams. These introductory and instructional sections are robust and well put-together and will be an asset for anyone learning (or improving their skills in) embroidery regardless of whether the motifs are to their taste. The motifs are grouped into categories: made in the USA, food, craft room, tools of the trade, school days, in the kitchen, in the garden, around the house, fun!, the great outdoors, by the sea, animals, plants, frames & borders, and alphabets. With more than 750 designs included, a wide variety of subject matter is covered. I know I often find myself wishing for a specific motif when working on a craft project, and I love to have so much variety in one source. Each set of color photographs of completed motifs is followed by one of black and white outlines for those designs and others not pictured in color. Specific instruction for each motif is not included – it is up to the reader to look at a design and determine which stitch is used where and in what order, and for the designs not pictured in color, up to the reader to make that part up themselves. The style of these motifs is sweet and not fussy. Includes a CD.
Manga Art: Inspiration and techniques from an expert illustrator by Mark Crilley
I’m familiar with Mark Crilley from way back – he was a speaker at several youth librarian conferences back when I was heavily involved in planning said conferences (he lives in Michigan, so he was easier to book than some out-of-state folks) and his books became popular in my library (place of work) pretty quickly after he started releasing them. He’s known for his manga illustrations and in this book, he shares information about drawing in the manga style with lots and lots of examples. Lest you think it’s all one thing, these examples are created using a variety of techniques and variations within the manga style, so the illustrations aren’t monotonous – you might not necessarily guess right off the bat that they’re all created by the same person. For each example, Crilley offers a personal story about how, why, and when he created it, all with the purpose of celebrating the process of making art. Appealing for young folks and adults.