Tag Archives: art

Book Review: Cat in My Pocket Embroidery

Cat in My Pocket Embroidery

Ten Purrfect Projects

By Hiroko Kubota

Born from need, continued with love, Kubota creates hand embroidered cats. With her newly published book, Cat in My Pocket Embroidery, she shares her knowledge and artistry, allowing us to recreate her fun felines.

From choosing the proper threads to use (single strands of size 25 embroidery floss) to the proper fabric (plain weave, nonstretch and smooth such as linen or cotton) is thoroughly discussed. Other items needed to complete your project are needles, an embroidery hoop, transfer paper, pins and a seam ripper. The author gives readers recommendations for each of the tools needed. Also included are ten cat templates to trace or photocopy to ensure your success.

Stitching techniques, starting and finishing have step-by-step instructions as well as photos and illustrations to ensure a successful outcome to your project. Kubota recommends starting one of the first three projects before branching out to the remaining seven. Each of the first three have between forty-six to forty-eight steps. The remaining seven projects have fewer steps, because you have already learned the proper way to introduce color and texture with your stitches.

I recommend this book to experienced embroiderers. But if you are a novice stitcher and feel compelled to embellish a shirt, purse or tote with one of these adorable cats, do not let me dissuade you. The instructions, images and illustrations are clear and concise. If followed, anyone with a little practice are destine to be successful.

As most crafters acknowledge, it is as much the enjoyment of the creative journey as it is the appreciation of the finished product. Kubota states, “I am pleased to say I am not the only person who appreciates the warmth, personality, and individuality of handcrafted products…”. I could not have said it better.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Sayings and Expressions Stained Glass Patterns

Sayings & Expressions

Stained Glass Patterns

By Anna Croyle

Sayings & Expressions brings us beautiful designs to be created using stained glass. There are 40 contemporary designs including two styles of alphabets and numbers. Additionally, there are beautiful designs including flowers and sayings such as “Home Sweet Home” and “Gone Fishing” with cute and quirky things like cats, bees and fish. My favorite is the “Tasting Room” that spotlights wine and grapes.

If you are a stained-glass artist, you will enjoy the inspiration and designs included in this book. But if you are a novice, you will need to find a book with actual instructions, not just designs. The author suggests Stained Glass Craft Made Simple by James McDonell, which includes general instructions, tools and materials needed for beginners.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book – Dash Right Out and Get Your Copy

Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book

By: Jessica Mazurkiewicz

Christmas will be here before we can blink an eye. I always like to shop early for stocking stuffers and Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book is perfect for adults and teens alike. Each of the thirty-one pages is just waiting for colored pencils, markers or crayons to make them come alive.

Unlike most adult coloring books, Christmas Inspirations is interesting without being overly intricate. The pages are festive and fun, some have more detail than others, but all will put you in the mood for the holiday season.

Perhaps you would like to dress up your home with the artwork created from this coloring book. If so, you may want to get one of the frames that hold children’s artwork and switch out the different pages depending upon your mood that day. Each page is perforated, so it will be a snap to take each one out of the book either before or after you complete it if you so choose.

From “Feliz Navidad” and “Dashing Through the Snow” to “Keep Calm and Jingle On” each page has an inspirational or humorous quote surrounded by holiday icons such as Santa, gifts and traditional decorations. My favorite page is full of Christmas sweaters – ready for you to make ugly or beautiful depending upon your mood. The quote on that page is “May Your Sweaters be Ugly and Bright”.

Amuse yourself and/or someone you love by picking up Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book before the holiday rush.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Color by Number – Brings Out the Artist in You

Christmas Color by Number

By: George Toufexis

Say Merry Christmas with this beautiful color by number adult coloring book. Each of the forty-six designs are best done with color pencils of your choosing due to the small spaces that might be difficult to color with markers or crayons. But if you want to use a different media than pencils, each page is blank on the back as well as perforated so no other images will be rendered useless due to bleeding of such things as markers.

Be sure to read the intro page that also included tips and techniques. Of course you know how to color, but the hints on shading, letting colors “bleed” together and directional pencil strokes will come on handy.

Twenty-four colors are used in each of the color by number pages. There are thumbnails of the completed pictures on the inside of the front and back covers. Additionally, there is a list of the colors used and their corresponding numbers. But don’t feel you have to use the numbers. This is your picture and if you want to make a purple dog or an orange Christmas tree – go for it. Personally, I like color by number. My method is coloring all of the small areas first. I also do all one color, then the next color, etc. until the finished picture emerges. Maybe you think I’m crazy and you prefer to do a section at a time. However you enjoy these pages is totally up to you.

My favorite page is the puppy sleeping under the Christmas tree. More than one of our dogs and certainly our cat declared the tree skirt “theirs” for the holiday season. Be sure to pick up Christmas Color By Number before the snow flies so that you can create your holiday masterpiece before Christmas. And pick up a few for friends and relatives – it is an affordable, fun and creative way to welcome in the holiday season.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Dogs in Origami – 20 New Designs

Dogs in Origami

By: Nick Robinson

As I review Robinson’s Dogs in Origami, my beloved mixed breed sits by my side. I am sure many of you have or have had a dog that has touched your heart and possibly taken over your home with tennis balls, squeakless toys and unmatched faithfulness and love. This new book of origami is for you.

There are 20 projects complete with instructions and diagrams to assist novice and seasoned origami folders. As in Robinson’s previous books, the first few pages gives the reader tips and instruction on folding, choosing the correct paper and various techniques that are used in the book.

The projects are cute, but most of them do not especially say “dog” when I look at the pictures. Some of them could be any four legged creature – I felt the busy patterns on the origami paper detracted from the finished product. A couple of them are super “doggish”. My favorites are Woof! Woof! Puppy, Bodo’s Dog and Nodding Dog. The funniest one, and by far my favorite is Perro Liberando. This cute little pup is in action, doing what dogs frequently do – pooping. Yup, poop is funny in any medium, origami is no exception.

This is not a book for younger children due to the detail of these designs. They may be difficult for a younger child, especially one that has never done origami before. That being said, adults and teens should have no trouble following the explicit directions given by Mr. Robinson as well as the other contributors to Dogs in Origami. The Biography section at the end of the book highlights each designer that contributed to the book, so be sure to see which of the contributors is your favorite.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Knitted Toys 20 cut and colorful projects – Worth a Second Look!

Knitted Toys

20 cute and colorful projects

By: Jody Long

You might recognize this title from last year when I reviewed Knitted Toys for Netgalley. When I received a copy from Dover Publications this week, I sat down and read through it again and felt it warranted another shout out because it is an informative book with adorable patterns.

Like any good knitting pattern book, it begins with the list of supplies that are needed as well as helpful tips such as how to stuff your toy creations properly so that the toy will not lose shape or be lumpy through lots of hours of loving as well as surviving the washing machine. It was particularly interesting to find the suggestion of using plastic straws for shaping. They don’t break, are not sharp and can be washed and dried without breaking.

The patterns are colorful and varied. The airplane and firetruck are great for little boys and girls; it is nice to see something different from the usual animals even though all of them are adorable. Samuel the Snake will be easy for little hands to hold and the Squishy Beach Balls are great for indoor play.

My favorite pattern is still Primrose the Nighttime Teddy. She has a nightcap and nightgown and will be the perfect buddy for a child to take to bed at night. My other favorite is Rusty the Puppy. He looks so squishy and cute I can just see a toddler cuddling up with him for a nap and dragging along on their daily adventures.

I hesitate but need to note that beginning knitters may need a bit of practice before creating these cute animals. All of the patterns are clear and should be a snap for experienced knitters. There are small paragraphs of instruction for the basic stitches in the introductory pages. They are easily understood if you have knitted previously, but a new knitter may need a bit more info. But who am I to rain on someone’s parade? There are YouTube videos for everything including some wonderful detailed knitting instructions so novice knitters, go for it!

Most knitters have yarn in their stashes that would more than complete one or more of these terrific toys. The patterns would make perfect take-a-long projects because each piece can easily be stashed in a purse or backpack.

As I wrote before; I highly recommend this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: A Year of Stone Painting: Mindful Thoughts & Beautiful Designs

A Year of Stone Painting

52 Mandala Designs to Inspire Your Spirit

By: F. Sehnaz Bac

A Year of Stone Painting takes us thoughtfully and mindfully through an entire year of meditative creativity. In ancient Sanskrit Mandala means “circle” or “completion”. Mandala represents the universe, and per the author, “In Buddhist tradition, the act of creating a mandala represents transformation of the universe….”. And he goes further to say that mandala design begins with a point in the middle, then develops with different shapes such as rectangles, squares and most commonly circles “…and the beginning of a journey toward knowledge and wisdom….” .

The author gives the reader guidelines as to the type of stones you need, how to prepare them and the other tools and materials that are required. Techniques are outlined to ensure your success. You can choose how you want to draw the designs on your stones, either freehand, freehand with concentric circles or freehand with a grid of concentric circles and lines in case you want to be absolutely sure your design is balanced. There is a page with illustrations of shapes and motifs that are used in the designs in the book so that you can practice drawing them on paper instead of straight on the stones if you choose to do so.

Each week for a year is represented with a different design and mindful thoughts to accompany your painting. For example, week 5 is the Peace Wreath Mandala. We are told that “Each one has to find his peace from within” and this particular design symbolizes every step we take to reach that peace.

Week 32 is entitled Feel. It reminds us of the times we feel good and the times we feel bad. Unlike most of the others, it is only red, white and black. The weekly designs are inspirational and beautiful. I can imagine restful hours of painting that will enable you to slip into mindful thoughts. Too often we are bombarded with noise, the hustle and bustle of everyday life and electronic devices. Maybe a little inspiration and creativity will help renew and rejuvenate your spirit.

If you don’t want to search out stones, consider using paper instead. You could easily create all of these designs on small or large pieces of paper. If you choose to use paper, you might want to use pens or pencils instead of paints. However you approach these beautifully inspirational designs I am sure you will enjoy the peace and serenity you will experience while creating them.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Milk Soaps – Make Your Own Luscious Soaps

Milk Soaps

By Ann-Marie Faiola

Soap making has been around for years. My grandma used to make it out of lye and ashes and dad always complained it did the job but it wasn’t necessarily easy on your hands. Store bought soap used to be a luxury. Now we purchase soaps in many different colors, shapes and scents from stores, but I prefer handmade soaps. Local artists create wonderful soaps, many of them unique with colors and ingredients that smell fabulous. They are often pricy and there is a reason for this. There is a lot of work that goes into making your own soap, but if you read Milk Soaps, you will have step by step instructions to help you succeed if you would like to give it a try.

A balance of a high-pH substance such as lye or sodium hydroxide and oil will make soap. But the process is not quite that easy. A “carrier liquid” is needed, most of the time water is used, but true to the book’s title, the recipes in this book will use milk. You can use any kind of milk. I loved the chapter on the different types. Most memorable are camel and make your own nut, grain and seed milks. There are special techniques for working with milks in soap, one of them outlines how to use frozen milk.

Why does the author use milk instead of water? It is all about the lather. With milk soap, the lather is creamier and the foam is finer and silkier. Milk is a natural moisturizer to soothe and soften your skin.

Ms. Faiola includes 35 skin-nourishing recipes. She gives the reader detailed lists of items needed as well as how to safely use lye. It is an extremely caustic substance and should always be used with the proper safety equipment and attire. Dressing like a lab scientist not only looks cool, but keeps you safe from getting lye on your skin or in your eyes.

Making soap is complicated. Milk Soaps gives you all of the written instructions, tips and tricks to create your own fabulous soap. It is interesting to read even if you don’t want to make your own soap, it will give you information that you can use to choose the perfect soap from your local artisan or farmer’s market. If you do choose to make your own soap, you may find it is fun and all of your friends and relatives will love helping you try out new scents and color combinations.

After reading this book and seeing the work soap making entails, I understand the reason for the price of handmade soap, and appreciate the work that the soap maker has put into each bar of soap. Soapmaking is truly an art.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Art Studio Secrets – Unlock Your Creativity

Art Studio Secrets

By: Majorie Sarnat

How are you creative? Before you say to yourself you are not an artist or creative, think again, outside the box this time. What is your medium? Mine is words and yarn, because writing and knitting allows me to express myself. So, back to you – are you a gardener, baker or woodworker? Then you are an artist. Would you like to become better at what you do or create paintings, sculptures and other works of art? Lucky for us New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Sarnat has compiled over 300 tips and tricks to help you develop your skills as an artist, using many different mediums.

Art Studio Secrets inspires and informs the readers in an easy to read format. While most of the information in the book is aimed at adults, here are some tips that are appropriate children. Each kid-friendly tip is marked as such. You and your budding artist will enjoy spending time with each other. Creativity always trumps electronics. One of my favorite kid tips is using a plastic ice cube tray to hold acrylic paints. This cuts down on messes, keeps the colors separate and can be covered so the paint can be used again within a few days.

Each tip is a paragraph or two in length and organized in chapters for your convenience. All are titled to catch your eye. Such as “Size Matters”, “It’s Good to be Negative” and “Make Things Look Shiny”.  Just reading though the tips you will become excited to put paint to paper or pull out a pencil and sketch.

While reading Art Studio Secrets, I found out that dating back to the 1600’s artists created trading cards. Meant to be given away and not sold, they are the size of baseball cards. In the 1990’s Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) began creating cards that are signed, dated original mini works of art. Ms. Sarnat suggests creating them with your kids to use as Christmas tree decorations. Giving them as gifts would delight grandparents. They would also make the perfect Christmas gift tag that can be cherished by the recipient instead of tossed out with the wrappings.

Even if creating something inspired by this amazing art book is just a few minutes of relaxation for you, never to be seen by anyone else that is okay. I firmly believe that art feeds your soul no matter what medium you choose and it doesn’t matter if it is just for you or to be shared with others. Ms. Sarnat will enlighten and inspire you with ideas and information. Wake up the artist that lives within you and your children by reading this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Art & Craft of Handmade Books – Ancient Art Techniques for Today’s Crafters

The Art & Craft of Handmade Books

By: Shereen Laplantz

 What is a book? The author of The Art & Craft Of Handmade Books acknowledges books can be described differently but we will go with her definition for the sake of this review. Laplantz defines books as “must contain elements, such as panels or pages, and should follow a sequence.” I too, believe that sums up a book.

In this book about making books, you will find a glossary that will enable you to familiarize yourself with the craft of bookmaking. We are not talking about writing a book – although your handmade book may contain prose that is your own. Or it may contain only pictures or quotes you want to add from famous poets. The possibilities are endless.

You will learn what materials are needed. Some are specialty items, but no worries. There is a recipe to make your own wheat paste if needed for your creation. Just remember that each handmade book is a work of art and should be treated as such.

Some of the book are made using calligraphy, others will use rubber stamps and yet others may only be pictures. All of the patterns, in various styles, are fully explained with illustrations as well as written instruction.

Beginning with the basic Concertina which only uses a 6 x 28 inch piece of paper, you can create a mini masterpiece to keep or share with someone you care about. I love the variation of a Concertina in a Matchbox. This tiny book is sure to be treasured by the recipient for years to come.

My favorite design is the Tassel Book. It is constructed by creating a 16 panel Concertina that is joined together. It creates the shape of a star when looking from the top. Adding a ribbon to the top of your book it can be hung as a decoration (I’m thinking Christmas) to delight friends, family and yourself. Panels that open can be added for an extra element of surprise and beauty.

Handmade books may take a little finesse to create. But honestly these are not popsicle stick snowmen (which are great in their element) but fine works of art to be shared and enjoyed by friends and family. I plan on trying my hand at some simple Concertinas to make a few Christmas books for the special people in my life next year. This type of art is a throwback to a time when all books where created by hand instead of being sent over the internet to your favorite electronic device instantly. It is nice to know some still create one of a kind works of art in the form of books still today.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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