Tag Archives: crafts

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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Book Review: Easy Bird Origami – Fun Facts, Beautiful Birds and Origami to Create

Easy Bird Origami

By: Tammy Yee

Easy Bird Origami is not your ordinary origami book. Each page has a full color picture of the bird for you or your child to create. There are instructions for flying birds and standing birds. Each sheet will specify which type of bird you are creating, and both flying and standing instructions are clear, easy to understand and have illustrations to help you picture the correct way to fold your birds.

The thirty pre-printed bird designs are colorful and detailed. But before you start creating your flock, be sure to read the information on the back of each page. It will tell you the name of your birds, the place in the world they are found and interesting facts about each.

These are not your ordinary sparrows and robins. Not so say there is anything wrong with the everyday birds I see at my feeder, but it is fun to learn about new birds that we might see on vacation far from home.

From Tanzania to New Guinea, to the Americas to Africa you will learn about interesting birds and their habitats. For example, the Sociable Weavers live in historic nests on the African Savana. Some of the nests are up to 100 years old and up to 500 birds live together in these huge communal nests year round.

The Common Bullfinch can imitate songs. In fact, a bullfinch named Bullie was famous for greeting guests by whistling “God Save the Queen” for visitors as they entered Lawton Hall in Cheshire England. Upon his death in 1853, a poem was written and placed on a tombstone that still stands today for tourists to read outside of the old hall.

A little closer to home, the American kestrel can be found from the Arctic Circle to South America.  These are one of the smallest hawks in the world, very colorful and are designed for speed. The can dive at speeds up to 65 miles per hour and during courtship perform complex flight maneuvers to get the female’s attention.

The beauty of each bird is highlighted on each page. Maybe you and your child will create a flock to hang from their bedroom ceiling. Or maybe you will use each detailed bird as Christmas decorations on your tree next year. Perhaps you will set a few on your dresser or on your desk at work.

Easy Bird Origami will make a wonderful gift. I plan to get a copy for my seven-year-old cousin. She loves every animal and bird. Since last summer she has gotten into origami and now it is one of her favorite things to do. As a new reader, she will enjoy the fun facts about each bird before making her flock.

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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Book Review: Delicate Crochet – Beautiful Crochet Patterns for Experienced Crocheters

Delicate Crochet

By Sharon Hernes Silverman

Crochet can be many things. All of which are beautiful, useful, warm and cozy. It is art made with a crochet hook and usually yarn. When I think of crochet I think of warm blankets, hats and mittens. I have crocheted each of these items over my years of enjoying the art of crocheting.

Delicate Crochet has introduced me to a whole new kind of crochet. Light, lacey, feminine crochet that is delicate and elegant. Of course I have seen the lace doilies my grandma made with cotton thread. They are beautiful and I have many of them she made over the years. But I have never seen shawls, scarves and other garments made of soft, lightweight yarns.

In Elegant Crochet, eleven designers created lace crochet patterns using traditional crochet stitches that any experienced crocheter would have no problem following at home. The projects vary from wraps to mitts to a Tunisian crochet cardigan. Each of them has detailed instructions, with charts as needed. There are full color pictures that highlight each project.

If you feel more comfortable working with patterns that remind you more of traditional crochet, the v-neck cardigan may be your first choice. It is created with openwork motifs (read beautifully lacy granny squares) and raglan sleeves. This is the perfect take along project with beautiful results.

At the end of the book, basic crochet techniques are spelled out completely with accompanying pictures. That being said, as comprehensive as they are, this book is not filled with patterns that are for beginners. But I you are ambitious and have never picked up a crochet hook in your life but feel you want to start on a delicately beautiful shawl or sweater, I will not be the one to rain on your parade – go for it. Conversely, experienced crochet crafters might be challenged by some of the patterns but all of them are so beautiful, they are worth the time and effort to use a lusciously soft and delicate yarn instead of sturdier worsted so often called for in crochet patterns.

As soon as the dust settles from the holidays, I plan to start making the Iced Silver Fox  Sweater designed by Kristin Omdahl. It is worked with a size F hook and features a delicate diamond motif on the front and back. It is meant to be worn over a solid top or turtleneck that will showcase each stitch.

Delicate Crochet is a book that will give you many patterns to choose from. Accept the challenge that might put you out of your comfort zone but will expand your crochet skills. Either way, this is a great book to have in your library as well as the perfect gift for the crocheters on your list.

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

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Harry and Meghan – The Wedding Paper Dolls – The Perfect Gift for Young and Old

Harry & Meghan – The Wedding Paper Dolls

By: Eileen Rudisill Miller

Are you tired of electronic beeps and bells coming from the hands of your children and grandchildren? I have a wonderful solution that will entertain them and you, as well as bring back fond memories. Paper dolls. Not just any paper dolls, but real prince and princess paper dolls just waiting for you and your child to enjoy.

Harry and Meghan are the stars of this fun and informative book. The first page features the Meghan doll as well as interesting facts about who she is. The following pages have two to three outfits each, some include her fabulous hats, each one ready to cut out and try on the Meghan doll. The descriptions will jog memories for moms and grandmas as well as older children. It is fun to read which designer made each dress as well as the event Meghan wore it to. The younger set might just be exited to get down to serious playtime, skipping the designer details.

Harry, the young prince that most of us of a certain age remember being born back in 1984, appears towards the back of the book. He will look dashing in his tuxedo or his Savile Row ceremonial frock coat uniform of the British Army’s Blues and Royals. Who doesn’t love a man in uniform?

Harry & Meghan The Wedding Paper Dolls are also perfect for anyone that collects British Royal items. The book includes the beautiful ensembles as well as sniplets of information and is sure to become a collector’s item.

With the holidays coming up soon, think about the quiet time your child will enjoy with Harry & Meghan. You can settle down with a cup of tea, help them use scissors if they are smaller and just enjoy a few quiet moments together. Soon enough they will grow up and it will be real wedding dresses and tuxedos for them instead of paper dolls.

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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Book Review: Princess Party – A Scratch & Sketch Adventure – Makes a Great Gift

Princess Party – A Scratch & Sketch Adventure

By: Imagine That Publishing Ltd

 

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.

Princess Party is the perfect book for budding artists. Be sure to read the brief introduction before handing it off to the kids. It includes instructions to create your own scratchpaper. I am willing to bet your children will have as much fun creating scratchpaper as they will drawing additional pictures on it once they have completed the book.

There are three sections to encourage creativity on different levels. The first section is a story about five friends that are all princesses. They also have superpowers to help each other as well as those in need. The story has pages to color for each page of text.

The next section features the scratch portion of the book. Using the attached stylus (which is brilliant from a parent’s point of view since it does not get lost) that your child can easily create artwork to go along with the pictures in the book.

Lastly there are blank pages to create your own Princess Pirate adventure. Older children can write and illustrate their own story. Younger children can create a story with pictures or have an adult help him or her with the story and illustrate it. Either way, they are sure to enjoy the process of creating something they can enjoy again and again.

 

Throughout the book courage, friendship, loyalty, and Girlpower, and is encouraged. I asked my neighbor’s children if they wanted to give the book a try. They were all very excited to try it out. The oldest is almost 10, the next in line is 8 and the youngest is 6. All of them agreed unanimously that the scratch off section was the most fun.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Knitter’s Dictionary – A Must Have For Knitters

Knitter’s Dictionary

Knitting Know-How From A To Z

By Kate Atherley

Kate Atherley’s newest book The Knitter’s Dictionary, is a must have for fledgling as well as seasoned knitters. Her no nonsense, easy-to-read information about everything from alpaca to wool and everything in between will keep your needles busy creating successful projects.

There are so many interesting and informative tidbits in this little book, it is difficult for me to choose my favorites, but I have finally narrowed it down. At the top of the list is the comprehensive section on gauge. I know that gauge is the part of knitting most knitters hate. Seems like a waste of time – until the garment you have spent a month making is either too small, too large, too long or way too short. Knitters know you should always swatch for gauge. Atherley goes further to explain how to correct needle size and/or yarn type depending upon how your gauge is off to ensure your finish project is perfect.

There is great advice for choosing the perfect yarn for your project. Each fiber gives feel and strength info as well as additional information to keep problems to a minimum. For example, Possum yarn (from Australia, not the United States Opossum!) is warm, soft but can be pilly. It is not a strong fiber when used alone. I can confirm that description 100%. I purchased some of this yarn and created a beautiful shawl that is warm and soft. But working with it was a challenge do to the tendency of the yarn to simply pull apart.

Lastly, I loved the section on sweaters. The illustrations are detailed and the descriptions include shaping and the actual fit of the different types of sweaters. Atherley’s detailed definitions are easy to understand and inspire knitters of all levels to push themselves a little bit further then they may have thought possible.

If you need one more nudge to get this terrific book, The Knitter’s Dictionary is the perfect size, 8 inches by 6 inches. It will easily slip into your project bag or purse. Since the holidays will soon be upon us, you just might want to purchase two; one for yourself and one for one of your knitting buddies.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Knockout Knit Hats and Hoods – Perfect for a Quick Gift!

Knockout Knit Hats and Hoods

By Diane Serviss

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.

Knitters – grab your needles! Diane Serviss has created a collection of knit hats and hood patterns that will make you race to your stash or local yarn shop. There are patterns for every style, each with explicit, easy to read instructions that novice knitters as well as seasoned veterans of the craft can enjoy.

Her introduction, How to Use This Book is straightforward and easy to comprehend no matter what your level of knitting is. She explains how to make changes in needle size to accommodate different knitter’s gauge as well as the different types of needles available and how each is used differently.  Yarn substitution guides will help when you are using stash yarn – which is the yarn that all knitters have in the house from other projects as well as some perfect yarn we had to buy but haven’t used yet.

The pictures of each of the 30 hats and hoods are featured before the patterns. When you choose a pattern, if there are special stitches involved, detailed instructions are included. For example, the Red Vine Cable Beanie (on my list to make) includes Right twist (RT) with a paragraph of instructions on the stitch if you are unfamiliar with it. Additionally, there is a reference section at the end of the book with pictures and step-by-step instructions from casting on to binding off and everything in between.

I chose to knit the Wildflower Fields Beanie. Using some stash yarn I completed it in less than two days. It was fast, easy and turned out perfect. As a member of the Fox Valley Knitters Guild, I participate in Charity Challenges each month. October we are knitting hats and scarves for the Elgin Community Crisis Center ( www.crisiscenter.org), so I was excited to find this beautiful, quick pattern to knit up and donate. I hope to finish a few more before our next meeting.

Whatever your style is, you will find the perfect pattern in this book. It is available on October 1, 2018, just in time to begin holiday knitting. I know more than one of these beautiful hats will find its way under our Christmas tree this year.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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