Monday, 22 August 2016

DIY Box Creations, by Courtney Sanchez. Review.

Fun and creative projects to make out of really big boxes

By Courtney Sanchez

Walter Foster Jr., 1 September 2016

Paperback £6.99 UK/$9.95 US/$12.95 CAN

ISBN 978-1-63322-139-0

Star rating: ****

This is not a kidscraft book – it is a collection of 12 cardboard carton creations to make for the kids. Hot glue, spray paint, and craft knives are required – so you have to be prepared for some heavy-duty cardboard-crafting. As recycling goes, the 12 jumbo cardboard box transformations are genius. The finished projects are big fun – and they look totally professional. 

Projects include a biplane, a dollhouse, a puppet theatre, a rocket ship, a sailboat, and a retro stove (which you might want to make to coincide with this year’s GBBO). High ratings for imaginative play value. All are shoestring creations.

The projects are assembled from pieces of cardboard carton which are pieced together with tape or glue, and then camouflaged. Step-by-step photographic how-tos accompanied by clear text guide you through the making. Everything is do-able – nothing overly complicated. 

One thing to consider: you will need a large workspace as well as the space to park your super-sized completed project.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Everything is Illuminated!

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK
30 July – 30 December

This superb (and free) exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge reveals  artisans’ secrets of creating illuminated manuscripts. Tracing the history of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, this show informs and entertains with two dazzling galleries of treasures. 

You will learn about the pigments used to create the vibrant colours, and how special effects were created.(I had read about the sources of pigments in Victoria Finlay's fascinating book. Colour, which was on sale in the gift shop.) I especially enjoyed seeing the artists’ pattern books and colour manuals. 

The show reveals the high-tech detective methods used by curators and conservators to research and restore precious manuscripts. 

If you are looking for a Bank Holiday activity, Colour is well worth a trip.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Paper Pom-Poms, by Paula Pascual. Review.

20 Creative Projects to Decorate Your Life

By Paula Pascual

Carlton Books 2016

Hardcover £ 13.99

ISBN 9781780977492

Star rating: ****

Fluffy tissue paper pom-poms are having a moment – they are the party decoration of choice. (In fact, all sorts of pom-poms are having a moment, but if you are a papercrafter, then it is the tissue paper variety you’ll be wanting to have a go at.) This fun new title by craft name Paula Pascual expertly explains the craft of making tissue paper pom-poms in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. There are 20 projects to choose from – mostly in tissue paper, but also imaginatively using cupcake liners, doilies, and re-purposed books.

Even if you are a seasoned papercrafter, you may not have much experience working with tissue paper. Wafer-thin layers can be a little tricky to work with – they are the filo pastry of the papercraft world. Have no fear – comprehensive step-by-step photos and text guide you through the process.

It must have been challenging for the author to come up with 20 projects on a rather narrow topic, but she has come up with the goods in terms of variety. In addition to the expected puff balls, there are fringed and honeycomb projects. Projects include a fringed topiary-style House Plant, a flower-topped Tassel Garland, a snowball-style Festive Ornament whose tightly-packed fluted layers are crafted with cupcake liners, and several types of paper flower (including crepe paper ones). Some of the projects are worked over Styrofoam forms and many require the use of a cool-melt hot glue gun.

The tutorial on making a tissue paper honeycomb ornament is excellent. You can purchase ready-made honeycomb paper, but being able to make your own opens up loads more possibilities in terms of colour choice. Making the honeycomb involves applying lines of glue in alternating layers. With the help of the full-size grid... can do! (In fact, all the back-of-book templates are full-size – handy.)

The author imparts a warm and friendly conversational tone to the proceedings.