Top

Tag Archives | 2009

Enchanted Adornments Book Review

Reported by Francie Horton

“Sometimes inspiration is so exquisite, the only explanation for it is magic. …A jewelry maker is summoned to create twenty distinct pieces for a group of mysterious friends. With little backstory. The jewelry maker trusts in her client and sets out, traveling to surreal lands and meeting otherworldly creatures. For each piece of jewelry, our traveler enters a portal to other worlds to meet her subjects. While there, she picks up clues to their personalities, sketches patterns and ideas, and notices colors, all of which come into play to create the resulting pieces via easy and unexpected methods.

She documents each of her visits in a sketchbook, which she shares in this chapter, with a diary entry, illustrations, and project notes. Complete materials lists and instructions follow for each entry, many even including a variation on the technique. The result is twenty unique projects and project variations that are utterly personal to the subjects who inspired them. Join this seeker of curiosities. As her story unfolds, so does the magic, and with it, her techniques, materials, tools, and instructions – all of which are of earthly persuasion.” P. 48 Enchanted Adornments


But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios has had a couple of buns in the oven this past year. One was their family’s new baby, Max, who was born November 5th. (edit: Max was actually born Halloween. Thank you to his Uncle Andrew, Cynthia’s brother, for the correction.) Congratulations!


The second was this beautiful book, Enchanted Adornments. I’ve been a long-time reader of the Green Girl blog and have watched with fascination as Cynthia designed and developed the book. One of the things she said in the beginning was “I am now very aware of how much work it takes to complete a book and can hardly believe how much is left to do!” I have to say I have never seen anyone put this much detail, work, and love into a book. She was responsible for:

  • Writing techniques and project instructions
  • Writing beautiful stories
  • Pen and ink illustrations
  • Watercolors
  • 20 projects, some with variations, that get progressively more difficult toward the back of the book – I read that Cynthia sketches every project out ahead of time, sometimes several times, and makes test pieces before the final piece.
  • Props for some of the photos

About the only thing she didn’t do was the photo styling and the photography. They’re both done very well, though… perfectly suited to the feel of the book. (Edit: According to Andrew Thornton, Cynthia’s brother, she was involved in this aspect as well. “The other is that she actually did work on photo styling. She went out to Loveland to work with her editor and the rest of the Interweave team and Joe on getting the pictures just right. She was very particular about getting everything just right. Cynthia and I even took our own photos to send out to the team so that they would know what we were thinking.” – Andrew, from the comments)

Cynthia did a video with her publisher, Interweave Press, talking about the book and showing some of her sketchbook pages and projects from the book.

Are you getting antsy? Enough about the pretty pictures, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, already?

The first clue that the basic info section isn’t going to be the run of the mill is that it starts with a chapter called “Finding and Harnessing Inspiration”.


“…The road between an idea and a finished piece is a winding one that starts and stops, changes directions, and may not resemble the original thought in the end.”

Can I get an “Amen, sistah?!” This is something every artist knows and sometimes struggles with. We talk about it on blogs, in art retreats, on Facebook. Finally someone says it in a book of projects. I don’t know about you but to me this says, “Hey! Your project probably won’t turn out exactly like the one in the photo. And that’s OKAY. It is as it should be. It’s the difference between being inspired by someone and doing a direct copy.” Sometimes we need to copy the project to learn the technique, otherwise craft books and magazines would be out of business, but then strike out on your own with your inspiration.


Moving into “The Essentials” is where you’ll find the basic techniques needed throughout the book. Again, it feels as though Cynthia has given just that little bit extra. For example, in the simple wireworking section, she shows you how to make a fine silver fused chain. It’s so beautiful I would wear it as is, no embellishment needed other than the hammered texture.

Things that are covered in “The Essentials”:

Wire
wire toolbox, wrapped loops, jump rings, fine silver fused chain, drawing a bead to make head pins, fancy wire wrap

Polymer Clay and Polymer Metal Clay
polymer clay toolbox, discussion of types, everything from conditioning to finishing
technique to look like faux ivory
polymer metal clay toolbox, discussion of types, considerations when working with pmc, sintering, firing, repairing, finishing, adding color to metal clay pieces

Simple Metal Clay Findings
Toggle clasp, Chain, Button, Prong Setting, Bezels – Clay Ball and Clay Cup with Bezel Wire
Texturing Clay
Carving and Sculpting
Simple Texture Tools – pads, cards, stamps – ones you make yourself naturally!

Molds
Making a master so that you can make multiple copies of that perfect bead you created wholly by accident.

Resin
I have heard more horror stories about artists ruining work with either the wrong ratios of resin ingredients, the wrong humidity, a bad batch, or they just didn’t hold their mouths right. Cynthia gives easy instructions and tips for every step of the way. She also covers inclusions, dyes, and finishing. There is a simple resin pendant step-out shown as well.

And here is where the magical story begins. “Every charm has a Story.”

Every project lists materials, tools and even clay color formulas if needed. Very detailed instructions for each piece are included to ensure best results. Helpful tips and possible variations are shown for some of the designs. And each of the pieces takes you a bit further into the story.

My favorite design from the book is the Woodland Wings necklace.


According to Cynthia’s blog “the crown jewel of the collection” is Mirabelle’s Locket. Beautiful and unique, it also wraps up the fairy tale she has woven throughout the book.


This is a book for the jewelry artist with an imagination. It is a workbook with a wealth of information. It is a fairy tale for grownups who are still in touch with their inner children.


What do you think? Does it look like a book you would like? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Strands Book Review and Giveaway

Reported by Francie Horton


Were you a “Project Runway” fanatic? Never miss an episode of “The Fashion Show”? It used to be that DIY fashion was only for college kids on a budget. Not anymore! Now you’ll find some of the most unlikely people are designing and making their clothing and accessories. And now there is an unusual technique book to help with that. It’s called Strands: Creating Unexpected Fabrics and Fashionable Projects by Jacqueline Myers-Cho.

I’ve known Jacqueline for several years, so when she asked if I’d like to review her book I jumped at the chance. She has beautiful work and is an amazing person to boot. Northlight Publishing even sent me an extra copy to give to one lucky reader. At the end of the article you’ll see how you can enter to win it.

The book, which even has its own Facebook page, contains several interesting techniques for working with existing fabrics and creating your own fabrics. It also shows you how to create embellishments and textures that you can use on garments you already have. Part Two of the book has projects made from the fabrics and techniques that were taught in the first part of the book. These projects are sorted into four categories: clothes, jewelry, accessories, and outerwear.

I’ve chosen a few of my favorite things to share. The first is called Paper Fabric. It’s made using a combination of tissue paper, thread, and gel medium. I was so inspired by this I made a journal with this technique. I used Jacqueline’s “Cut-Thread” variation that she mentions further in the book.



The next technique is called Give-n-Take. It’s inspired by the slashing of the Elizabethan outergarments. One of the projects made with this method is the Peekaboo Skirt. I *love* this skirt. Jacqueline used a darker fabric in the slashes for contrast but I can imagine using a sheer lace or tulle or even nothing at all.



And then the last project I want to show is a dress using her Scribble stitching. This is just embroidery that looks like a child’s drawing. So why not use a child’s drawing?! What a cute keepsake and how warm and fuzzy a child would feel every time Mom wears the “special” dress.

So, let’s wrap it up. Is this book for you? Maybe. It’s well-written and beautifully photographed. But it’s definitely not your typical sewing book. It’s edgy, unusual, and different. If you like to take risks, I’d say go for it. Otherwise, you might want to take a look at it in the bookstore first.

Pros:

  • Not the same thing we’ve seen in every other sewing book – different and unusual.
  • Uses unexpected materials like packing tape and tissue paper to make fabrics.
  • Promotes reusing, recycling, reducing waste.

Cons:

  • Not for everybody – some people will be put off by its non-traditional approach.
  • A few of the projects feel repetitive.
  • Not all the created fabrics will be appropriate to use with all projects due to a lack of sturdiness.

So, what do you think? Are you clamoring for the chance to get your mitts on this book? Leave us a comment on THIS POST, and we’ll pick a winner for a copy of Strands on Saturday, August 22, 2009. One comment per person… THANKS!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Round Up: Best of the Best & Trend Report

Thanks for joining us during our CHA coverage. We are not quite done… we still have giveaways for days, and more on a couple new companies on the horizon. But we wanted to get you thinking about trends for the coming season of craft.

Please feel free to leave your comments and opinions… your favorite crafty manufacturers are reading!

Best All Around Scrapbooking: Sassafras, all the new lines are super cute and trendy… and our readers are clearly excited by them!


Best New Paper: Cosmo Cricket, Earth Love

Best Embellishments: Websters Pages Whimsy Threads and Cameos



Best Rub Ons: Hambly Screen Prints (doily rub ons)


Best in Cute: My Little Shoebox

Best New Scrapbooking: Kiki Art. The first trilingual paper line. We love how they march to their own drummer. Their designs won’t be for everyone, but that’s the idea! Here are some quick images… a full report is coming soon!




Best in Stamps: We have to give props to Papertrey Ink for a huge showing at the supershow… but to be honest, we never made it into the booth! Too crowded! We hope to see more in stamps a the Winter show! Shout out to Unity Stamp Company for their Donna Downey collaboration.

Best in Inks: Clearsnap’s Smooch line

Best in Electronics: eCraft by Craftwell

Best in Table Top Tools: Letterpress by L/QuicKutz

Best in Hand held Tools: I-Top Brad Maker

Best in Jewelry: Bead n’ Spin Bead Loader by Beadalon

Best in Notions: Protect and Grip Thimbles by Clover

Best in Fashion Craft: Simply Silkscreen by Plaid.

Best in Photography: Jill e. Camera Bags

Best Booth Babe: Scrapblog


Coolest Fake Product: Gold Plated Cricut Expressions.


Trends

Birds: Trend toward real birds and vintage-inspired birds… not retro, but vintage, and more Audubon-inspired. Realistic and hand drawn.



Games: Flash cards, playing cards, plastic game pieces and game boards.

Kitchen/food: Yum! Who doesn’t love to eat!

Japanese Kawaii: Cute, like Hello Kitty cute.

My Mind’s Eye Ribbons

Vintage: Flour sack cloth, milk caps, illustrative, 1930’s – 1940’s.

Woodland: Not going anywhere… owls, squirrels, tree stumps, logs, mushrooms, faux bois, etc.

What about Earth Love by Cosmo Cricket… I see woodland, vintage, birds… it’s a hit!



What’s next (or should be)…

Simple 12″x 12″ art papers. With the trend being toward mixed media and DIY, using tools like electronic die cut machines, QuicKutz Letterpress, screen printing tools like the Yudu, and stamps to create your own background papers, I would love to see some super high quality 12″x 12″ watercolor papers, thick letterpressable fine arts papers, canvas, and handmade papers in trendy colors, or even just in neutrals. A company that marketed their papers toward this trend would do well.

Fairy Tale inspired images. Brothers Grimm, Hans Christan Andersen, etc. I personally would like to see more “dark” themed lines, like Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty. Darker colors, hand drawn, etched.

Retro Crafting: Wood burning and leather tooling… old scouting crafts!

Vintage children’s illustrations: Mary Blair, Tasha Tutor, Eric Carle, Beatrix Potter, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein. I want it on paper.

80’s: Neon… real neon. Checkers, stripes, blocks of color, black and white. Rubber and lace embellishments anyone? I think a few companies hit on this a few years back (Bam Pop for example) but perhaps it was too soon? I am ready now. I have Electric Boogaloo two pages to scrap. We did see neon tones in polymer clay with the Pardo line by Viva. Good sign!

So that’s our story and we’re stickin’ to it! Opinions… thoughts? Share them here!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!