Monday, May 16, 2011

At Home with Handmade Books - a Review.

Here is one of the real reasons I am happy for the boys to be back at school... actually, strike that, wildly ecstatic might be more the case. At the very beginning of the holidays, I received this book - 'At Home with Handmade Books' by Erin Zamrzla.
I have cupboards full of origami paper, tags and labels, cardboard, old cards, etc and it seems as though they have a very active social life, breeding furiously like rabbits. However, I am not a scrap-booker and no matter how hard I try, would probably never get to the bottom of my stash by making cards. So for me, this book is perfect because it not only gives me wonderful projects (all 28 of them) but also sets me in a whole different direction.
At this stage I need to state that although Trumpeter Books sent me this copy, I would not be endorsing it, let alone raving about it unless I thought it was fantastic. And it is. The photography is beautiful and the muted palette of colours that weave through the book is edible.
For me, a good craft book is not just about the projects. I have to be able to pick up the book and gaze mindlessly at the pictures in appreciation for days on end. For me it has to be a visual feast that brings inspiration to other areas of my creative life as well. For example, the orange flowers in the postcard journal have sparked a new crocheting idea and the selection of origami patterns make me want to pick up my watercolour paints again. Anyhoo... I must remember this post is about the book and not me. Remember the mantra Kate 'It is not all about me'.
The 'Cut, Keep, Collage Storage Book' is my favourite project and the one I am most itching to get into. I think it would make for a wonderful Christmas present. At first I was thinking for my nieces but I think anyone of any age (most likely females though - my Dad would like the effort but he probably wouldn't use the paper for much) would love being given a magical selection of papers and special things. You could even put ribbons, buttons and bits of lace. But now once again I am getting carried away.

I love this idea too, the 'Sewing Notions Pincushion Book'. I really am thinking Christmassy thoughts about this.
And best of all, the directions are clear, presented in both a written and visual format which I find extremely helpful. The diagrams are clear and the progressive steps through are straightforward and simple which is a relief to me as I don't have the head space for complicated and tricky projects at the moment... especially if I am thinking of doing a big Christmas run of presents. I know I keep talking about Christmas but you know how it is when you make them all, you have to start planning early. Well I do anyway because it takes months of thinking about before I start doing the doing.
Actually, if you are a family member and reading this, ummm, maybe just ignore this post.

As for tools and buying things to make the projects, it is all pretty uncomplicated. For me, it involves an undercover, top secret mission of sneaking into our shed and pilfering tools from Jonno. He has such good stuff.
As to the nitty-gritty of the book, all of the projects are grouped together at the front which makes for a pleasant visual stroll from one project to the next. The grouping of instructions at the back works well too as they build on techniques as the book progresses.
The ultimate rating comes down to a couple of questions. Would I buy it and would I continue to use it over an extended period of time (e.g. years). Yes and Yes. It's really, really, really, really good.


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