Friday, 24 October 2014

Washi Tape Christmas, by Kami Bigler. Review.

Washi Tape Christmas

Easy Holiday Craft Ideas with Washi Tape

By Kami Bigler

David & Charles, 2014

Paperback, £9.99 UK, $14.99 US, $16.99 Can

ISBN 13-978-1-4463-0503-4

Star rating: ***1/2

The frost is on the pumpkin. Christmas crafting season is in full swing, so it's time for another festive makes book review. Today I am featuring a fun new paperback that rides in on the washi tape trend. Washi tape is beloved by papercrafters and here to stay. Washi Tape Christmas is a craft title that was begging to be written -  Kami Bigler has done an admirable job with the assignment. The book is colourful, jolly, inventive, and respectful of the qualities that make washi tape such a wonderful craft material. 

Washi tape being what it is, printed masking tape, its very nature decorative and self-adhesive – lends itself to quick-makes. Regarding the fun factor, the table of contents is a master class in alliteration, clock these chapters: Clever Cards, Darling Decorations, Opulent Ornaments, Table Treasures, Gorgeous Gifts, Wondrous Wrapping (see what they did there).

Washi tape looks its best when used in clusters of co-ordinated prints, with edges torn. Its semi-translucency is a major design plus, contributing an unmistakable character to washi makes. The projects in the book (I counted 31) show an appreciation of these qualities of washi tape.  Cue a spontaneous “look what I just whipped up” effect. 
In the Winter Wonderland card, for example, the torn edges of the washi tape are concealed by snowflake sequin shapes, but an irregular border and a kraft card blank retain the casual effect. 

The Happy Holiday Berries card,which features a fun wreath effect inventively created with notched ribbon tails of washi that poke outwards from a central circular cut-out. Other fun ideas include the Sweet Candyland garland, in which round beads are covered with washi tape to create a sweet wrapper effect. A simple stunner is the Natural Place Setting, in which a small fir branch is taped in place onto a dessert plate. For paper manipulation geeks, there’s Lovely Lollipops, in which the lolly shape is fashioned out of washi-covered punched paper circles that are arranged in an attractive 3-D spiral.

There are written step-by-steps for each project, with tips and photos aplenty. There’s a handy list of washi tape suppliers at the back, with UK as well as US contacts – so you can top up your hoard.

Many of these projects are ideal for crafting together with kids. To make things as simple as poss, there are photocopiable full-size templates back-of-book.  This title would make a delightful pre-Christmas surprise for a crafter you know with a washi stash. 

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Christmas Crafts, by Catherine Woram. Review.

Christmas Crafts
35 projects for the home and for giving
By Catherine Woram
Cico Books 2014
Paperback, £12.99

Star rating: **1/2

The clocks go back this weekend – December’s fast approaching. Time to get crafting. Christmas Crafts is a sumptuously photographed, classily-styled collection of trad  festive decs and makes. It looks great. Flip through the pages and you’ll want to make a cup of hot choc and start a hobby session. Full marks for the art direction. Sorry to say, I was underwhelmed by many of the projects. There’s not much new here – and some of the projects are so simple that the presence of accompanying step-by-steps is a bit of a stretch. I guess the book is targeted at the time-poor person new to crafting. 

The book is divided into five chapters:  Decorations, Table Settings; Cards, Giftwrap & Labels, Edible Gifts, and For Children.  What’s here for the papercrafter? Découpage letterforms – mantelpiece graphics attractively covered in checks and polka dots. The effect is pleasing – similar to washi tape. The letterforms are purchased – so the project is a no-brainer – just gluing on paper strips. Strictly for  newbies. Paper pompoms – ginormous tissue paper fluffballs. These are sort of obvious, but nice in that the project bigs up the pompom trend and translates it into paper. There’s also a good tip about cutting the pompom tips into different shapes.  Silver box place holders – purchased boxes.  Not much of a project. Silver crackers, made from paper-covered cardboard rolls. The step-by-steps are helpful for those new to cracker-making (the crackers reappear in gold later in the book). It would have been fun to include instructions for making a tissue-paper cracker hat as a bonus. In the kiddie section, you’ll find paper snowflakes and paper chains. If you don’t know how to make these, you’ve missed childhood. The snowflakes do look attractive arranged in a wreath. The new spin to the paper chains is using decorative edgers and paper punches to cut the strips. Not papercraft, but in the kiddie section:  like the jam jar snow globes – a project that most kids would find engaging.

The Edible Gifts chapter is very inviting. Here you will find do-able ideas – choc truffles masquerading as Christmas puddings, Christmas cookie tree decs (suspended by grograin ribbon loops), mini Christmas cakes, and candied peel. 

A strong point of the book is that it effectively channels current trends – you’ll find lots of festive bling (glitz, crystals, pompoms); pompoms, jumbo typography; home sewing and embroidery. Although not for the experienced crafter, this title might be a good gift for a busy nest-builder seeking  easy-make ideas. 

Note:  I was provided with a review copy of this book.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Toast Rack Card Racks 2014

... and the Toasties are back. Toast Rack Card Racks 2014 version. So simple to make - and very handy during the festive season. Ideal for those who like to browse through the greetings cards. Three colours to choose from: red, green - or blue (for a non-trad look).

Bonus: some co-ordinated greetings cards.

Here are your freebie Toasties:




 ... and here are the cards:

The Toast Rack Card Racks are a cinch to make. Here's how:

Toast Rack Card Racks

There are two files, one for the end pieces, and the other for the slotted rack. Print and cut the pieces. Score the folds with an embossing tool held against a metal ruler. Attach the bottom flaps of the end pieces to the base of the slotted rack. Join the long edge of the rack to the rack base to complete the arching rack. Then attach the side flaps and top tabs of the side pieces. I used double-sided tape, but tacky glue would work fine, too. 

Happy card-browsing!