Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Pop-Up Design & Paper Mechanics, by Duncan Birmingham. Review.

18 Shapes to Make

By Duncan Birmingham

Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd 2016

£5.99 UK/$9.95 US

ISBN 978-1-78494-165-9

Star rating: ****

This 48-page booklet is an abbreviated version of Duncan Birmingham’s 2010 title, Pop-Up Design and Paper Mechanics: How to Make Folding Paper Sculpture. If you want a no-frills crash course on pop-up card designing – just the facts – then this streamlined format could be just the ticket.

As a guide to pop-up mechanisms, the combo of simple photos and line diagrams successfully explains how to make things work, although you will have to put on your thinking cap to imagine the card actions. Next time up: a pop-up You Tube channel, please!

The upfront sections on Working Practice and Simple Rules are clear and concise. Handy hints are sprinkled throughout - suggestions on how to refine results, avoid pratfalls, or up your game. I liked the suggested approach of pop-up sketching – encouraging the reader to experiment. The idea of gluing experiments back-to-back to make a pop-up portfolio has wings.

Featured pop-up mechanisms include several varieties of V-fold, Parallel Fold, Open-topped shapes (boat shapes), Twisting Mechanism (double-action!), and Bending Planes (spirals can be used to make easy-peasy pop-ups). 

This title would make a good gift for a papercrafting newbie, whether an older child or adult.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Mexican Papercut Pillow Box Bunting

Here's a fun storage idea that makes use of unused wallspace - a pillow box bunting. The pillow boxes have built-in hanging loops - just thread them on to a ribbon. Each box is decorated with a simplified papercut inspired by Mexican papel picado banners. 

Here are your freebie designs:


Make the pillow boxes out of plain paper in bright colours. Cut the banners from ordinary photocopier paper. I have fastened the banners to the boxes with craft thread ties, but you can substitute mini-brads.
Your life will be a whole lot easier if you attach the banners to the boxes before assembling the boxes!

This pillow box bunting would make a fab party dec - make a pillow box for each guest (a name label on each box), place goodies inside.

For a pillow box gift box, eliminate the hanging loops.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I Love Stamping, by Ishtar Olivera. Review.

I Love Stamping
Over 100 Cute Japanese-inspired Designs to Carve, Ink and Stamp
By Ishtar Olivera
Quadrille 2016
Paperback, £12.99
ISBN 978-1-84949-785-5

Star rating: ****

This is a charming project book featuring “super-cute” Japanese-inspired hand-carved stamps. Most of the (over 30) projects are stamped on paper, but a few are stamped on fabric. There are over 100 traceable design motifs (stamp templates are full-size).The author, Ishtar Olivera, channels Japanese appreciation of beautiful simplicity – and “kawaii” – the “super-cute” into her elegant and sweet designs –  both the stamp motifs and the crafty projects. 

The section of the book about stamp-carving techniques is ace – lots of helpful tips. There is lots of very specific info about using lino-cutting tools to carve stamps.  But - there should have been more information about sourcing stamp carving blocks, and more info about ink pads – and types of ink pads. Since this book is intended for newbies, you’ve got to assume they won’t know about this stuff!

Many of the projects are simply irresistible – examples: the Kokeshi (Japanese wooden dolls) Thread Holders – these provide wrap-around storage for baker’s twine; the Tea Bag Envelopes; the Money Envelopes (off-centre design); the Plum Blossom Garland. The makes are all super-simple so the stamping takes centre stage.

Projects are beautifully photographed, and the step-by-steps are stylishly illustrated – by the talented  author herself.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Hirameki, by Peng + Hu. Review.


Draw what you see

By Peng + Hu

Thames & Hudson 2016

Paperback, £9.95

ISBN 978-0-500-29248-8

Star rating: ****

I was charmed by this book, which ingeniously brings imagination  to the colouring book trend.  (Yay! - Go creativity!)  “Hirameki” means light bulb flash of inspiration in Japanese. The concept – guided Rorschach-test inkblot doodles is not a completely new one (I did thumbprint doodles in one of my craft titles) – but it is delightfully realized here. You know - draw what the inky blob suggests.

The artists (name above the title), Pen & Hu, were inspired when they saw a cow with a marking that looked like a famous film star. (Clouds, anyone?).  So, not an entirely new concept – but always smile-inducing and big fun. Do you remember the Mad Libs game ? – fill in the parts of speech to make a comedy story – well Hirameki is the visual equivalent. Smiles all around.

The book is beautifully produced in full colour, on quality paper. The contents divide the book into “The Seven Steps of Hirameki” – Minimalism, Collections, Variations, Additions, Combinations, Interactions, and Freestyle. Each section ramps up the game incrementally. To add to the fun – the text is written in Dr Suess-style rhyme – this works a treat!

My big issue with the book – papercrafter’s dilemma – is that the book is so very nice, I don’t want to doodle in it. One to mark and one to keep?

This book would make a fun summer activity gift for an older child. (Suggestion: buy a fine-point Micron marker separately to accompany the gift, so the recipient can get started right away.)

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