Today, we are continuing with my post on Books about Colour, Design and Inspiration, with a review of some favourite children’s art and fantasy books; excellent books on using library resources and fun exercises to motivate and inspire; and stories about other craftspeople and their studios, finishing with some valuable practical books on running a craft business and art teaching.
The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt 1999/2009;
I love these little books. Aimed at young children, they are packed with lots of wonderful ideas, which can be used to inspire adults as well! The Usborne Book of Art Ideas describes a wide variety of art materials (paper, paint, ink, pastels, wax crayons, pens, brushes and palettes) and techniques with pages on: mixing colours, density of paint application, colour theory, perspective, printing patterns, masking out, patterns and dots, glue pictures, elastic band prints, hand and cardboard prints, blow paintings, brush and ink work, watercolour painting, chalk and pastel techniques, wax resist rubbings and making cards and frames.
The Usborne Book of Art Projects by Fiona Watt 2003/2008;
This small sequel covers a variety of art projects from tissue paper windows; texturing paper; paper mosaic tins; paper weaving ; frames; and collaged cards and book covers to dangling bead shapes, foil fish; 3-D cityscapes; scratching paint; doodling; embossed circles and printing techniques.
Creative Art Crafts by Pedro de Lemos
: Book 2: Cardboard, Wood, Cloth and Metal 1945 and
Book 3: Weaving, Raffia Basketry, Textile Arts, Plastics, Jewelry Designs, Pottery Crafts, Cement Art Crafts, Sculpture, Puppetry, Masks, Stagecraft, Marionettes, Costuming, Pageantry, and Sandtable Projects 1948;
I rescued these two delightful old-fashioned volumes from the bin and wished I’d found the first volume as well (Book 1: Paper Craft, Toy Craft, Relief Craft)!
I loved the quote by John Erskine in the forewood on Page 2 of Volume 2:
‘The joy of creation is always greater than the undoubted pleasure of looking on. The sad fact is that the vast majority of mankind are onlookers, only the rare few are doers, but those who have the most fun will be those who do rather than merely look on’.
After a brief introduction to Cardboard and Wood Craft, Pedro suggest many projects using these mediums, including: Paper Sculpture; Corrugated Paper Craft; Cardboard Houses, Boxes, Nativity Scenes and Letter Portfolios (which really defines the age of this book!); Papier Mâché; Stained Glass Designs; Action Animals, Toys and Figurines; Nesting Boxes; Whittling; Wooden Boxes; Chip Carving; Gesso Craft; Marquetry; and Wood Batik.
The section on Cloth and Textiles has a similar approach- an introduction to various techniques, followed by more detailed instruction and projects, including: Wax Crayon Decoration; Cloth Stencilling; Silk Screen; Designing Monograms; Printing Cloth with Textile Blocks; Potato Prints; Batik; Shibori; Solar Printing; and Hand Embroidery.
Metal crafts include: Repoussé; Stamping and Working Metal; Tin Can Craft; Sheet Metal Sculpture; Copper Craft; Metal Etching; Plant Holders; Wirework; and Iron Craft.
There are more wonderful sentiments about the integration of arts and crafts in the forewood to the third volume (Page 2- see photo below). This book covers even more crafts: Weaving using Cardboard, Box and Hand Looms; Raffia Work and Rug Hooking; Basketry and Rush Work; Jewellery Making; Pottery; Glass and Plastic Sculpture; Colour Cement Tile Work; Puppetry; Shadow Play; and Mask Making; Costumery and Set Design.
While written for art educators and therapists, these volumes with their clear presentation, using simple black-and-white photographs (with the odd colour plate) rather than complex text, mean that they can be used by anyone, regardless of age, language and technical ability and serve to provide plenty of inspiration rather than in-depth instruction!
An Alphabet of Animals by Isabelle Brent 1993;
A beautiful book with 26 stunning animal portraits from A to Z.
Isabelle’s paintings are full of brilliant colour; patterned and colourful borders and backgrounds; and gold leaf, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The text highlights the special unique properties of each animal. It is a truly beautiful publication, whose subject matter and presentation cannot but inspire future artistic endeavours.
I love the imagination and illustrations of the following books! They are all fantastic spurs to creativity and artistic inspiration!
Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black 2005;
In this comprehensive field guide, ‘Arthur Spiderwick’ describes the creatures of the invisible world (complete with scientific nomenclature), only accessible to those gifted with ‘the Sight’, and categorises them according to their home environment:
Around the House and Yard: the helpful Brownies and troublesome Boggarts, mysterious Changelings and light-fingered Pixies; and the fiery Salamanders and Stray Sods;
In Fields and Forests: the fatal Cockatrices; capricious elves, diligent leprechauns; man-eating Manticores; nebulous Sprites; magical Treefolk and curative Unicorns;
In Lakes, Streams and the Sea: Wailing Kelpies, curious Merfolk, musical Nixies, massive Sea Serpents and constantly hungry Trolls of the waterways;
In the Hills and Mountains: From diminutive Dwarves to Giants and Ogres, Goblins and Hobgoblins and even Deep Cavern Knockers;
In the Sky: The fearsome dragons, regal griffins, glorious regenerative phoenix; and
Outside at Night: The nocturnal Banshees, frozen Gargoyles, roguish Phookas and luminous Will-o’-the-Wisps.
I love the notated illustrations of the mythical creatures and watercolour paintings of their environment throughout this book, as well as the ‘scientific’ approach to their study, reminiscent of natural history books of the early 1900s.
The Goblins of Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Terry Jones 1986/ 2006;
This is a similarly fanciful and imaginative tome, based on the ‘archaeological discovery’ by Brian Froud, in an unspecified remote corner of Olduvai Gorge, Northern Tanzania, of a 60 Million year old earthenware pot with runic inscriptions on the underside edge of the rim, which in turn led him to a further discovery of 43 notebooks about ancient goblins. Their huge diversity; descriptions and images; and peculiarities and habits are documented in this amazingly creative book! I love the imagination and great sense of fun in this book!
Dr Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons edited by Dugald A Steer 2003;
I also plan to make a dragon one day! Similar in style to the last two books, this book is based on the scientific study of ‘dragonologist’, Dr Ernest Drake.
His authenticity and credibility is backed up with supporting evidence in the front of the book like his library card and a letter in an envelope addressed to the reader, as well as spells to catch a dragon. This comprehensive description of everything to do with dragons (Locations; Species; Natural History; Life Cycle; Behaviour; Finding, Tracking and Working with Dragons; Scientific study; Dragon script; Useful spells and charms; and history) includes: World maps; Samples of skin, wing membrane and dragon dust; Pop-out diagrams; Personal record books; Secret envelopes; and Riddles and puzzles. Another highly imaginative and creative book!
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson 2013
Based on medieval bestiaries, this paperback focuses on amazing unique creatures, which actually exist and still survive in our modern world, two thirds of which are marine.
Alphabetically ordered, they range from critically endangered Axolotls (a type of salamander) to Zebra Fish, the populous darlings of scientific study due to the speed of the development of their embryos. This book highlights the wonder and miracle of our natural world, despite the devastating impacts of humans! It was also highly informative! While I learned so much more about the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and the Nautilus, I knew nothing about Sea Butterflies or Goblin Sharks or even Xenoglaux, the Long-Whiskered Owlet!
The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols by Jack Tresidder 1997;
Traditional symbols have served as a visual shorthand for artists and craftspeople to express their beliefs and ideas about human life for thousands of years, predating writing and representing universal fundamental concepts in many primitive societies and cultures.
This book contains 1000 symbols from myth, literature and art, from a range of cultures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and are arranged in alphabetical order. It is a valuable starting point for artistic inspiration, as well as a fascinating element of mankind’s history!
The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit by Barbara R. Call 2009;
This book is jam-packed with inspirational ideas to break the crafter’s block!
This scanned page (page 9) shows the way it is organized:There are just so many ideas, that really you have to read the book yourself. Some of the ideas, which resonated with me, included: Wordless Journalling (Day 15); Miniature Collaging (Day 17); Women’s 7 Senses (Day 50); Going Back in Time (Day 67); the Scamper concept (Day 167-168; Page 144 – see photo below); and Gratitude Journal (Day 359).
I would love to try making air-drying clay rubber stamps (Day 6 and 7); House journals (Day 29); Altered Books (p 51); Sisterly Creations (Day 62-63); Finding Your Animal Totem (p82) and Write For 100 Years from Now (p113); Happy Birthday (Day 221; Page 187; Sun Printing (Day 234; Waxed Paper Batik; Tiny Tin Treasure Troves (Day 310) and Paper-Aging Techniques (Day 346). There are also a number of artist interviews throughout the book.
Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects;
I love this book, which I bought (ironically!) when I was working for the Digital Repository of the Deakin University Library. It was right during the time period, when the library was converting from a storehouse of books with lots of bookshelves, which were discarded, to a digitally dominated learning space with comfortable lounges and discussion areas!Books have always been a constant source of inspiration for me, but the advent of the internet means increased accessibility to a wide range of libraries and library collections:
State and neighbourhood branch libraries for borrowing out hard copies, as well as magazines and videos;
University libraries for students, though often borrowing access by the public can be organized for an annual fee;
Research libraries: For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 12 different libraries and study centres in New York City alone; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, is the largest library in the world, while The British Library contains many early printed books and a Historic Bindings Database. All are becoming increasingly digitized, which is a wonderful boon to artists further afield.
Special collections: Historic maps; ornamental penmanship; and early printed books and illuminated manuscripts; and now
There is a chapter on using library catalogues, Library of Congress headings and keyword searching; copyright laws and legalities; and finally, a list of some recommended library collections for specific needs: General Visual Resources; Home Economics; Craft History and Culture; Printed Ephemera; Book Arts and Bookbinding; Costume and Fashion; Arts and Design; Children’s Books; Medieval Manuscripts; Science and Technology; Maps and Cartography; Quilts; Knitting; Lettering, Penmanship and Typography; and Performing Arts and Film. I cannot recommend this book highly enough as a source of inspiration!
Also included in the book are projects inspired by the library with instructions, including: a Marbled Fabric Pouch; Decorated Papers and Watermark Pillows; Ornamental Penmanship and Cartouche Embroidery; Calligraphy and Penmanship; a Secret Message Snowflakes and Patterned Stationery Set and an Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set; a Quilled Willow Pendant and a Paper Town Garland; a Kittens Pockets Dress with Kittens and a Cyanotype Bed Throw; Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders and Japanese Heraldry Coasters; and a Wool Rose Fascinator and Felt Dogwood Blossoms for Millinery. The appendices include a stitch guide and sources for supplies.
And finally, books on other craft people and sage advice about craft businesses!
The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds edited by Anna Torborg 2006;
A very inspiring book, featuring interviews with 17 different craftswomen, who discuss their endeavours under the headings: Why I Create; Inspiration; and Workspace; with a representative project of each artist’s original designs, with photographs, patterns and detailed instructions (at the back of the book). Their crafts include: Patchwork and Quilting; Toy and Bag making; Embroidery ; Felting and Knitting; and Paper Crafts.
I particularly liked the work of toymakers: Anna Torborg, Fiona Dalton, Tania Ho and Myra Masuda and would love to try making the latter’s Elephant Pouch. Again, there is a list of sources in the back of the book.
Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space by Cate Coulacos Prato 2011;
I love reading about other artists’ and craftspeoples’ studios and gleaning useful ideas from them for my own sewing room! This book is organized into six chapters, with 6 studios in each, titled:
Chapter 1: A Room of One’s Own;
Chapter 2: Organization and Storage;
Chapter 3: Flea Market Flair;
Chapter 4: Small Space, Big Style;
Chapter 5: The Power of Light and Colour; and
Chappter 6: Make It Your Own.
There are floor plans, photographs, tips and hints; colour symbolism; discussions on lighting or open studios; and checklists for needs and storage! There were some great ideas from rods to hold ribbon spools and underseat bookcases; wire baskets to organize fabric stashes: wooden card filing cabinets and muffin tins to hold stamps or beads respectively; and clear plastic drawers for easy access.
While not all necessarily applicable, the huge diversity of studios has appeal for a wide variety of situations. I could easily set up shop in Gina Lee Kim’s studio. Merely reading this book and viewing all the wonderful art spaces is stimulation and inspiration enough for renewed vigour!
Mollie Makes: Making It: The Hard facts You Need to Start Your Own Craft Business 2014;
The title says it all! While inspiration and artistic practice are fundamentals, so too are business skills, which enable your ability to continue to follow your passion and pursue your art/ craft! Chapters, complete with expert advice from key players and fellow artists, cover:
Chapter 1: First Steps: Customer profiling; Building Your Brand and Developing a Logo; Setting up a Website; and Online Marketing;
Chapter 2: Taking the Plunge: Company Structure; Working from Home or Away; Financing Your Business; and Writing a Business Plan;
Chapter 3: Creative Conundrums: Costs and Pricing; Sourcing Raw Materials; Staying Inspired; Making Connections (Networking and Mentoring); and Protecting Your Intellectual Property;
Chapter 4: Spreading the Word: Using Social Media; PR Material; Writing a Press Release; Feature Articles; Getting Professional PR Help and Photographing Your Product;
Chapter 5: Sell, Sell, Sell: Craft fairs; Online Market Places eg Etsy; Selling from your own website, selling to shops and Opening your own shop; Running Workshops; and The Customer is King
Chapter 6: The Nitty Gritty: Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant; tax; card and online payments; Managing Cash Flow; Insurance; Consumer Law in brief; and Employing Staff. There is a list of useful websites for each chapter in the back of the book. I cannot stress how important and valuable this small book is, not just for artists and craftsmen, but for the establishment of any business. It is however particularly beneficial for creative people who, by the sheer nature of their creativity and right-brain thinking, find the business aspects and self-promotion quite daunting and challenging! I’m talking from personal experience here!!! And finally,
How to Teach Art and Craft by Trisha Goodfield 2010.
Teaching art and craft and sharing your experiences and special skills with children and adult beginners is often much more lucrative than selling the hand-crafted product, whose huge number of production hours is often not reflected in the consumer price! People will pay however for tuition and given the price per person per hour is financially affordable for an individual and a class is often made up of a number of individuals, all paying that lesson price, then it is often possible to make good money from giving lessons and workshops.
The author presents this book by posing a series of questions, along with sub-questions within the text :
What to Teach: Demonstrations and Classes; retreats and conventions; Classes based on Technique or Specific Projects;
Where to Teach: Teaching from Home; Community Groups; Craft stores; Libraries and Meeting Rooms; Adult Education; Craft Shows; Retreats and Conventions;Schools; Online; Magazines; and Outdoor Venues; as well as Council and Government Regulations; Insurance, Tax and Permits; Pricing Classes (including the cost of materials, preclass preparation; travel; and Insurance and taxes); and Promotion and Marketing (including preparing a portfolio or resume; Flyers, Brochures and Business cards; Networking and Social Media; Interviews and Follow ups; and Boundaries concerning what you are prepared to do or not do!)
Who are you teaching: Teaching Children and Adult Learners; Adult Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies; Personalities and how to manage them like the latecomers (White Rabbit), the Professor, who knows it all (!), the Diva and the Chatterbox; and Dealing with different cultural and generational attitudes, values and beliefs; and finally,
How to Teach: Learning Objectives; Planning your Introduction; Learning Strategies; Nerves; Demonstration Skills; Handouts; Reinforcement/ Feedback; Listening skills; Questions and Answers; Lesson Closure and Evaluation; Lesson Plans and Formats and Further Teacher training.
While many of these ideas are common sense and instinctive, this book is a very worthwhile and valuable summary and reminder of all aspects of teaching art and craft.
I hope this small selection has whet your appetites. Next month, I will be looking at some of my favourite Drawing and Art Books! Next week, we return to my monthly Feature Plants with a post on Lovely Lavender!