Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Crafter's Guide to Patterns, by Jessica Swift. Review.

The Crafter’s Guide to Patterns
Create your own hand-printed designs
By Jessica Swift
Search Press  2015
Paperback £12.99
ISBN 978 1 78221 219-5

Star rating: *****

This crafter-focussed book is a superb intro to the magical world of surface pattern design. Creating decorative prints is a burgeoning area for the hobbyist and pro alike, due to technological advances – the internet for sourcing design inspiration, computers for a technical assist, and the possibility of affordable small-quantity print-runs from print bureaus. Jessica Swift’s book is an easy-access lightning guide for the uninitiated or technically timid. It teaches the fundamentals of pattern design, then spotlights crafty applications – such as stamping, screen printing, stencilling, and cyanotyping (a photographic printing process). There is a handy look-in on digitizing designs, but this is not the main emphasis of the book.

Jessica Swift aims to train the reader to see the world through the eyes of a pattern designer. In the book’s intro, she says -  of the important concept of the pattern tile -, “Once you learn and understand how patterns are constructed, I’m willing to bet you ‘ll try to deconstruct every pattern you see in the world from now on.” I can vouch for this!  Being a pattern repeat detective can provide puzzles to solve while queuing or in waiting rooms. 

The book is in lavish full-colour photography. A delightful feature is interviews with “name” designers from around the world, such as Heather Moore (Skinny LaMinx). Discover what makes them tick!
The book is divided into three sections – Planning Patterns (pattern design bootcamp), Using Patterns (various applications – with tips), and Resources (20 copyright-free motifs with QR codes, printing and image resources, useful websites, plus an index). There is surface- and technique - specific advice aplenty.

Think of Jessica Swift’s book as a portal to the wonderful world of pattern design. It is ideal for gifting.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Beautiful Paper Cutting. Review.

Beautiful Paper Cutting

30 Creative Projects for Cards, Gifts, Decor, and Jewelry

Lark Books, 2015

Paperback  £12.99/$17.95 US/ $ 20.95 CAN

Star rating: ***

This pleasant papercraft project portmanteau title is one for the newbies, and casual crafters at that. Come here if you want an appealing collection of easy projects, not if you want to seriously pursue the craft of paper cutting. (The dedicated student of papercutting would be shocked at the recommended use of paper punches.) Having said that, most of the projects are well-chosen and some them are showstoppers.

The cards have a naive quality and make an asset of their irregularities and imperfections. The Cut Tissue Paper Greeting Card, by Cynthia Shaffer, is a delightful Matisse-y collage.

Many of the projects are 3-D, such as the Elephant Mama and Babes, by Ellen Deakin, and the charming Alice’s Wardrobe by Silvina de Vita – with clothes on hangers- which channels the irresistible attraction of paper dolls.

Step-by-steps for each project are supplied, with photos as needed.

There’s a template section back-of-book with templates in various formats. Some are same-size, some require enlargement, and quite a few are cut-up-this-book prints. 

There are also capsule bios of the book’s contributors – always nice to hear about the creative journeys of crafty people.

Many of the projects might be fun to do with the kids.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Love Heart Bunting

OK - I have been milking the Valentine love heart sweeties theme - but here's one more blog post with the bunting on its own. Big it up for parties, or shrink it down as a gift wrap decoration.

Here's your free print-and-cut file:

Just cut out the hearts, fold them in half over baker's twine or a ribbon.
Secure each heart in place with a strip of d/s tape inside back, near the top opening.

Hope you have a great Valentine's Day.