Book Report: Painting on Glass and Ceramic by Karen Embry (2008)

Book coverThis book is the second of the two books on glass and ceramic painting that I borrowed from the library. It, too, talks about the techniques of painting on glass and includes a section on painting on clay that you’re going to fire in a kiln. Only the first part is relevant to me, if any is at all. The designs, projects, and templates within are a little too cutesy for me, with little frogs and lots of words in script that doesn’t match the kind of things I have in mind. So I guess this is worth a read if you’re into those sorts of things, but I’m not sure if the techniques alone make it worth buying. But if you want to, notice the handy links throughout the post here.

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Book Report: Painting Glass by Moira Neal and Lynda Howarth (1997)

Book coverI know what you’re thinking: the same thing that I thought. “Gee, Noggle hasn’t decided to try any sort of strange new crafting hobby, one where he reads a book on something after getting a notion and then spends a pile of money on it before shelving it when he can’t make time for it in a reasonable fashion.”

Friends, this book is the one you’ve been waiting for.

It’s an old British book (did he call something from 1997 old? Yes, he did. Remember how much simpler things were then?) that has a number of projects for painting on glass. The designs within are traditional, and it’s a book that you read the basics for the techniques and tools and then flip through for design ideas. What do they call that again? Oh, yes, a craft book.

As I said, traditional designs, the silver on blue projects are a winning combination, but the more I read up and look through the design ideas, the more I sense this isn’t a thing I’ll like to do to express myself.

That said, coming soon to Craigslist, hundreds of dollars in misbeboughten supplies.

Books mentioned in this review:

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Book Report: The Absolute Beginners Guide to Stitching Beaded Jewelry by Lesley Weiss (2010)

Book coverI paid almost full price (40% of with coupon, so “almost full price” means “more than a dollar”) for this book at the Hobby Lobby because I wanted to make sure I had something to read one warm January day when I was to take my children to the park. However, I didn’t end up reading it at the park–I can’t remember if we didn’t make it to the park or if I didn’t want the Springfield-area mommies to beat me up for being a beading sissy.

So I browsed it while watching football instead.

It’s a collection of stitched bead jewelry projects that shows one how to make the stitches and whatnot. I haven’t done any beading in a year or so, preferring to mix up my cheapskate self-made crafting Christmas giving this year. But when beading, I do like to do stitches which is more complicated and creative than simply stringing some beads and a pendant together. Although I have other reference books that show me the stitches, I’m glad to have picked up this one to freshen and inspire me and to give me some other ideas on how to use different bead sizes in my patterns.

Whether I put those patterns to use any time in the near term, though, is another question entirely.

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Book Report: Trash to Treasure 6 by Leisure Arts, Inc. (2001)

I’ve read a couple in this series (Trash to Treasure 2 and Trash to Treasure 8), and I’ve dinged them for being kinda goofy and for making things out of junk that leads to crafts that look like they’re made from recycled things.

This book, though, elevates the game. Its opening section makes good looking furniture out of remnants of other furniture, and those good ideas build up some good will. Later, we get into fabric crafts that look like projects made simply because you’ve got a lot of scrap to waste (a man’s suit collage, a shirt pocket organizer, and sachets out the wazoo). But only a couple things made out of coffee cans or old aluminum cans, so the overall quality of the end result is way up.

Definitely the best in the series I’ve read so far, and it makes me look forward to others in the series. Sadly, 2 of 3 of them will probably be disappointing if the sample holds true.

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Book Report: Three-dimensional Découpage by Hilda Stokes (2003)

Because I’ve given some thought to trying découpage (and have a half-completed bit of découpagery lying about, I picked up this book. It’s a guide for creating three-dimensional decoupage by layering multiple copies of the same image cut differently to add foreground and depth. It’s an interesting idea, but it might not be something for me to try any time soon, if ever.

The book focuses on a number of flower and fairy designs and includes a number of cutting guides which include the image and the portions of each image you’ll overlay to create the depth. So it’s just a bit of glue short of an actual kit instead of a guide.

Maybe I’m too plugged into political thought, but every time I type the author’s name, I find myself typing Hilda Solis. I cannot escape it even in my attempted hobbyism.

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Book Report: Everything Crafts Easy Projects edited by Courtney Nolan (2005)

This book is part of the Everything Crafts series, and its particular subheading is Step-By-Step Instructions For Creating Everything From Magnificent Mosaics To Beautiful Wreaths. Well, that’s kind of the case. It has multiple projects within three main lines of projects: Concrete-set molded mosaics, wreaths, and papercrafts using stamps and glue.

Sadly, I didn’t really flip through the book before I got it, so I had an idea that “everything” would be broader.

Still, if one of these three strands of creativity fuel you, you’ll find variations on the projects. For example, in the mosaic line, you can make stepping stones, mirrored wall hangings, photo frames, and reptilian designs. For wreaths, you find instructions for vertical hanging wreaths of various types and seasons and some wreaths you can put around candles.

A quick bit of glancery and something to think about trying sometime, I suppose.

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Book Report: Napkin Decoupage by Deborah Morbin and Tracy Boomer (2003)

Decoupage is like papier-mâché for adults. Basically, you take a pretty picture from something like a magazine and paste it onto something else. You can also use napkins, as this book shows, to get really fine, thin images that look almost as though they’re painted onto the object.

Of course, the title of the book is Napkin Decoupage, but throughout the book the authors talk about serviettes. That’s because the book is for an American audience, and the authors wrote it in the Queen’s dialect, wherein nappies are a different thing altogether, although probably not without their artistic possibilities.

It’s a good book for ideas since the book shows a large number of surfaces you can decoupage images onto, such as chairs, shoes, baskets, boxes, frames, and so on. However, the techiques within are for experience decoupagers as napkin paper is very thin and hard to work with. Personally, I’m starting with manilla folders on two-by-fours to get a real flavor for the possibilities in pasting paper onto something hard.

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Proper Decorum

If decorum is Latin for “something to hang on your wall”:


In case of prison riot, break glass
Click for full size

I made this out of a standing photo album frame, a piece of black felt, some fishing line, and a garbage-disposal-mangled spoon.

I’d had the concept for quite sometime; I’d intended to make it as a Christmas present for my employee back when I was leader of a QA department. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a workshop at the time, and it got kinda shelved. Eventually I acquired the frame which is perfect for it (and a workshop).

I got the spoon from my mother, so it’s one of the ones I ate cereal with for most of my youth. Wow, nostalgia is washing over me. I’ve got a personal relic post coming on sometime soon, but this isn’t it.

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Book Report: Creative Juice by Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza (2007)

As some of you know, I love the television program Creative Juice and blame it for the masculinity-reducing program I’ve undertaken. I started watching it a couple years ago when I was looking for a 30 minute episodic program I could watch while feeding my child (with a bottle, and the firstborn, so it’s 3 years or more). Each program has four short craft projects, and I’ve watched most of them by now considering that the show only ran for 3 years.

This book collects a couple of the projects I recognize from the show and some I don’t. As always, the crafts work with a variety of media and do some creative repurposing.

So I have nothing snarky to say about the book. Really, I only browse these to get ideas, so I don’t get to into the individual steps of the individual projects. This book is good fodder for the imagination, so it suited my desires.

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Book Report: Kilobyte Couture by Brittany Forks (2009)

I thought this book would have a lot of ideas on building geek jewelry and crafts and whatnot. Well, no. It has, essentially, one: Use resistors and capacitors as beads!

Pretty much, that’s it. We get different designs with different colors of capacitors and resistors, but that’s the big idea, and it’s replicated over dozens of projects within the book. The author talks about different parts of electronic gizmos in the introduction, but then recommends only using new resistors and capacitors ordered from Radio Shack.

The single idea is a good one, but it’s not enough in my opinion for a full book. The story of the author’s success with the idea is neat, but the book fills out with a too-cute explanation of geek culture and identification of geek things with top ten lists designed to fill the white space in the book. That being said, one of the top ten geek blogs is linked in my sidebar (Neatorama. So kudos, John and co., although I suspect that John is one of the co. and I don’t know whose name to put in front of it.

Worth a trip to the library if you want to see the one good idea in action, but I really have given away the ending.

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Burn It! Burn It!

As some of you know, I’ve been reading woodburning books this year. Well, you ask, what are you going to do about it?

Well, I did this:

They’re not the first projects I’ve done, but they’re the first I’ve posted here. I know, it’s all butterflies and birds and girlie stuff, but I’m working from stencils here, not traced or freehand designs. Strangely, even in Springfield, the craft store stencil selection does not feature any stencils of guns or bucks or that sort of thing, so until I get some NRA-licensed stencils, I’m going to have to stick with these until I’m good enough to do more intricate things.

That’s what I’m doing when I’m not lamenting the state of the government. I’m teaching myself a trade I can use when the government collapses.

Also, I’m always selecting More Dry because of my raging hydrophobia. That punchline bears repeating.

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Book Report: 100 Crafts Under $10 by Better Homes and Gardens (2003)

This book is a collection of quick, cheap crafts you can make. The end result crafts are better than what you get out of the Trash to Treasure series, but I think the book relies on some creative accounting, namely pro-rating, to bring each craft under ten dollars. Each individual craft comes with an itemized bill and they do all come under $10, but sometimes the bill indicates that $3.98 for two colors of spray paint. I’ve just priced spray paint, so I know that two cans of spray paint cost more than that.

The crafts are simple, and many of them resemble the sort of thing you’d see on the television program Creative Juice. Some of them are very similar indeed. That means that I’ll take some ideas from it, but probably not as many as I would from watching a season of the aforementioned program. Maybe it’s the way I soak up ideas, but things I flip past in a book don’t stick with me quite as well as the things I see on television in 7 minute segments.

Which makes me question the whole enterprise of reading these things.

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Book Report: Semiprecious Salvage: Creating Found Object Jewelry by Stephanie Lee (2009)

I thought this book would be similar to Beaded Jewelry with Found Objects. It is, sort of, but instead of a playful sort of style, this book shows you how to produce artificially aged stuff using a lot of copper, old pages, and fabric. The design types are just one step from steampunk. Instead of relying on the simple stringing and wirebending techniques, soldering plays a heavy role in the designs within. So you know what you’re looking for.

I’m not sure the book served me well since that isn’t the sort of design elements I like or use (although I do have two soldering irons). But it’s all grist for the mill, I suppose.

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Book Report: Step-by-Step Pyrography by Bob Neill (2005)

This is the second book of pyrography I’ve read in the run-up to my first attempt at it (The Art of Woodburning being the first). It’s not the better of the two.

Essentially, it’s a bunch of different projects with photos of the finished project and the same steps, over and over. I mean, it’s not like in other crafting books where you do a lot of different things. Here, you essentially take a piece of wood, copy a pattern onto it, burn it into the wood, and maybe add color to it.

The book offers the photographs and includes essentially those same steps on each set of pages.

I suppose if they did it differently, such as pairing patterns with project ideas but omitting the steps, the author would have had to come up with twice the number of projects to fill the same number of pages. And that would have probably made a better book.

On the other hand, I do take away from this book that you can use a woodburning tool, at least the woodburning tool used by this author, to work on leather and laminate. That I did not know and might try sometime. After I finally settle down and do this bit of woodburning I have in mind.

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Book Report: Tabletop Fountains by Dawn Cusick (1999)

I saw an episode of Creative Juice where Cathie and Steve made a fountain, so I’ve thought of giving it a try. This book offers a bit of technical insight into how to make them and 40 projects for indoor tabletop fountains.

I don’t know what more to offer you in a book review about a craft book here. It doesn’t look too difficult to make a fountain, and the projects don’t offer that much variation. Nothing wild in here, just some water tumbling down some rocks, although the book does include one water wall sort of fountain. The designs are from a variety of designers, not just the author, so you see some variation, I suppose, but it is a narrow band of handicrafts.

Of course, I’ve already checked another book out of the library on the subject. No doubt my book report for that one will be even more droll. I ought to start putting up photos here of the various things I make like I do on Facebook so at least you, gentle readers who are not my Facebook friends, will see them.

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Book Report: Trash to Treasure 2 by Leisure Arts, Inc. (1998)

Okay, okay, I said I didn’t like the first book of this series that I read (number 8 in the series), but here I am looking through another one.

Well, they’re quick and probably not entirely a waste of time.

Still, it’s heavy on the country kitsch that does not appeal to me (yet–give me a decade surrounded by fields and horses, and we might have a different aesthetic sense entirely–watch for the blog theme to be white and red checkerboard with stitches dividing the posts and sidebars).

Instead of the reliance on the aluminum cans, this book features a large number of projects that use the bottom of plastic food trays. I could see it. Maybe my children and I will make suncatchers sometime from them. Probably not.

Additionally, #8 recycles a project from this book: light bulb Christmas ornaments. Talk about using old things in a new way! Of course, if you’re going to do this, you probably want to do it while incandescent bulbs are legal.

Books mentioned in this review:

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Book Report: Two Hour Crafts by Landauer Books (2005)

This book promises a wide variety of two-hour crafts, but I bet that once you factor into the time allotment how much time it takes you to get the materials together, learn the basic techniques you need to use to make the craft, make the craft, and then clean up, you’re past the two hours.

That snark aside, the book draws from a wide variety of craft veins, including needlework, knitting, beading, painting, scrapbooking, and paper arts. It offers a couple of small projects in each and prefaces each section with a list of materials you need and basic techniques you use. Then, each section has a couple of projects using those techniques.

However, when it comes down to the actual crafting, you get three steps to everything, no matter how complicated. Because that’s how it’s laid out, you see. Even when step 1 to the build an automobile craft is assemble the engine and drive train. I exaggerate, but not by much. I’ve mentioned that I don’t care for steps in anything that require more than one sentence of imperative mood followed by a couple sentences, maybe, of explanation for why you do it.

The book is a pretty good primer on a bunch of crafting things, but I’m not sure I’ll do any of these projects. I might take some things away from it for inspiration, maybe. As a very early starter book to crafting, though, it’s probably worthwhile.

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Book Report: The Art of Woodburning by Betty Auth (2001)

This is the first book I’ve looked at about pyrography, the art of using a soldering iron-like implement to char pictures into wood. So I’ve learned a lot, including the word pyrography. The book inludes a number of projects to get you started and a fair number of templates you can photocopy and trace to make designs on wood. However, the book was first and foremost a good primer on the use of the tool, the different tips, and the different techniques for shading and whatnot. Granted, I probably would have gotten similar instruction from any book about pyrography that I’d bought, but this book will do the trick for you if you’re like I was.

Well, if that isn’t the briefest and most useless book report you’ll read all day. But these are craft books, not novels examining the sweeping themes of human existence. What’s important is that you know I read it.

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