Friday, April 15, 2016


 In March Thames and Hudson published a new series: Craft Studio books:
Tote Bags - create and customise tote bags 
Decorating with Pompoms and Tassels - customise objects for your home, from cushions and fridge magnets to wall hangings and rugs 
Stamping and Printing - personalise items with home-made stamps and with various printing techniques 
Brooches - make original and sophisticated brooches 
‘Each book features 20 creative projects, which are assigned a particular level of difficulty - although all are within reach of even the absolute beginner. Packed full of engaging projects and practical tips, there is plenty to inspire both novice and experienced crafters alike. 
With a sleek, elegant design, simple layouts and clear advice, the Craft Studio books offer a stylish and modern approach to the crafting craze that will appeal to all ages. ‘

I was sent these books to review and being ‘one handed’ decided to enlist the help of the local Women’s Institute, which has recently started a successful craft group. They spent some time looking through the books and making their unbiased comments;here are their notes.

With thanks to Diane,Tricia, Pat and Catherine ladies of the WI


Nice cover and contents pages.Good instructions to make a basic pompom. Not many materials for each project.
Some good ideas
Liked:Tasselled throw and cushion:Say it with flowers -nice simple idea ;Shopper Bag - Pompom ring;Paper Roses;Garland of Greenery;A star is born

Cover - not very inspiring .Again liked contents page
Might be good for absolute beginners but not very inspiring for those who have some experience. Clear instructions to make a tote bag.
Liked:Pocket Tote - brightened up the bag.Bird and  Branch Tote;Tie Dye Tote;Liberty Print Tote;Geometric Tote;Eye Test Tote

I liked the picture index and the layout is good. Projects are adaptable to own designs. Clear and simple, great for the beginner. Uncluttered instructions. Basic instructions good. Introduces lots of simple embellishing techniques. Modern clean looking book.

Cover OK. Could have been more  colourful.
Liked the content pages showing all the projects you could make. There were lots for a small book.
Projects liked:Pin-wheel;Clouds;Origami;Vintage Style;Oak Leaf and

A wide variety of projects using different mediums. Instructions seem straight forward and I liked that you have useful addresses to source materials needed.

Nice cover wanting you to look inside!
Liked contents pages with pictures of each project.
Liked 'Tips and Techniques' but a lot of materials required especially for a beginner. Very useful tips to build up confidence before you start.
Projects Liked:
Little fish - easy to follow instructions and liked the effect.
Polka Dot Curtain - very simple but stunning effect.
Triangle Tray
Apple Apron
Fallen Leaves
Wrap it up.
Some good ideas - not all to my taste though.
Good picture index page - further improvement achieved by numbering picture with appropriate 
page number.
Good bite-sized tips and instructions 
Typed format aids clarity
'Good to Know' snippets good idea 
Easy to follow instructions
Good  double-page format -illustration/instructions 
Useful template pages at the back of the book
Front cover uninspiring colours. Wouldn't make me pick it up from a shelf - pity

Decorating With Pompoms and Tassels

The turquoise, grey and fluorescent complimented each other but the project image colour didn't seem quite right.
Basic Techniques
The basic techniques are easy to understand.
The diagrams could have been better proportioned as the one for the pom pom point 5 gives the
impression that the wool has only been wrapped around the template twice.
It would have been more helpful if the good to know point on page 27 about the more layers the
denser the pompom would be had been included in this section and not nearly half way through the
Colour of the Illustrations
The Authors obviously like yellow, black, grey, and white as 14 out of the 20 projects are shown in
these colours. Another 4 used pink grey and green. The book could have benefited from a wider
variety of colours
Instructions throughout the Book
Most of the instruction for the projects seemed easy to follow (just by reading them), although I do
have a couple of points to raise:
Pompom Cushion step 8 says to wrap the grey wool around 3 fingers. I personally have fat fingers
other will have smaller ones, therefore the smaller centre pompoms will come out in various sizes-
need more of a size guide.
Tasselled Cushions This was the one project that I got really confused with. You fringed the leather
.5 cms up the scm the other 3.5 cms are unfringed. (a ratio of approx. 60:40)Then you are only
over lapping the thin strip by 1 cm. This is not the impression it gives from that diagram A - perhaps
it needs to have some measurements on it .The finished photograph seems to have a much smaller
portion of the tassel unfringed
Some of the instructions need a little bit explanation i.e. the spotted seat cover step 3 asks you to
roll the wool to form a dense ball step 4 you dip in hot water then in step 5 you are forming it in to a
dense ball (it was already a dense ball in step 3!!!)
Overall Impression: A lot of projects are for show and not functional. The Table cover seemed very
impractical to me for both washing and storing! Most of the project did not inspire me. The only two
project that appealed to me were the "Garland of Greenery "and "A star is born". I th
ink this is partly
down to the fact that most of the illustrations are much of the same dull colours. (Black and grey). It
is not a book that I would buy.

So there we have it a range of views, personally I really remember the striking black,grey and yellow images, but I do like a subdued colour scheme as you may have noticed.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Just a quick catch up, April already: after taking a pause from blogging I was ironically forced to stand back from most of my creative endeavours as I fell and badly fractured my left wrist. I am out of the cast now and starting to get some limited use back from my still swollen and stiff wrist. Thank goodness for Skill Share which has enabled me to follow a number of interesting courses and keep my spirits reasonably good. It proved frustrating at times as there are certain computer functions which require the use of both hands; still every little improvement is welcomed.

   A positive is that this enforced ‘time out’ has made me recognise how important creative activity is to me and I think in time it will renew my enthusiasm. One of my sons has given me a dremel as a challenge for the future and I have been collecting beech finds in Swanage.

I was so happy when I could use my camera again (wearing a splint) and I have enjoyed the challenge of manual settings. I have also joined Instagram and posted a few photos over there.

A boost to my spirits was to hear that an image of my felt work will appear in ‘World Wide Colours of Felt’ published by textiellink   which will be published this Spring.
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