Books on Sewing With and For Children

Now that the school holidays and Christmas are almost here, I thought a post on sewing and creating with children would be very timely! Sewing is such a useful life skill, whether it be the basic ability to sew on a button and repair your clothes or more advanced garment making, and learning at a young age gives individuals so much confidence in their abilities, as well as developing their creativity and just being fun!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - Copy

I have already reviewed Learning To Sew by Barbara Snook and Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green in my first post on embroidery books (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/07/books-on-embroidery-part-one-general-guides/).

Another excellent sewing primer for children is :

Busy Little Hands: Sewing: A First Craft Book For Parent and Child  Illustrated by Douglas Hall 1988

Written specifically for children, this book has a very child-centred approach with simple instructions and fun pictures of mice and rabbits engaged in the task. Basic sewing skills are taught from enlarging patterns and using a needle threader to patchwork, tacking, oversewing, hemming and pleating, as well as a range of simple stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. There are some lovely easy projects from leaf needle cases and prickly hedgehog pincushions to butterfly mobiles; costumes, masks, hats and crowns; and drawstring bags and patchwork night cases. It’s a delightful little book and very appealing to young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6572

Once the basic skills are mastered, the next two books by quiltmaker Yolanda Gifford are wonderful for inspiring creativity and imagination and a love of fabric and colour.

Fabric Fun For Kids by Yolanda Gifford 1995

After introducing basic stitches (running stitch, back stitch, overstitch) and materials (vliesofix; embroidery thread; and fabric textas, markers, dyes and paints), Yolanda launches straight into the 24 projects themselves, including hanging pillows, cushions, bags, pictures, runners, Christmas decorations, quilts, toys and glove puppets and rag baskets.

Each project has a materials sidetab; clear instructions and finishing notes, patterns and diagrams and full-colour plates of the finished article.

When my eldest daughter was younger, she was inspired by the pattern Ellie’s Bird (seen on the book cover below) to make her dad a felt panel of a king parrot.

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My girls also made the Christmas tree pillow and picture; the heart pin cushion; and Jake’s Four Patches, as seen in the photo below.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7214 I could easily make the chook runner; the flower cushion; the Nick-Nack Sew a Patch bag and the Home Sweet Home panel myself! The projects are an excellent indicator of the popularity of Yolanda’s home sewing classes for children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6573

Simply Applique by Yolanda Gifford 1997

Yolanda’s second book is similar in presentation to her first book, but focuses on applique, using non-traditional methods and lots of freedom in colour, design and structure to portray children’s artwork on quilts, table cloths, curtains, cushions, bags, banners and family portraits and postcards.

While written for children, it is an equally wonderful book for beginners to the wonderful world of applique!

I love Yolanda’s use of bold simple shapes and bright colours and would love to make her family portrait and postcards; her appliqued curtains; her animal cushions and banner; her red and white embroidered cot quilt; and her love quilt, seen on the front cover of the book.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6574

Steiner education also have some wonderful books for encouraging imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are three of my favourites:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke 1987

Imaginative play is so important for the development of creativity, as well as developing basic life skills and this little book is packed with wonderful ideas from building sets, shops, dioramas and landscapes to making dressing up costumes, crowns, puppets, gnomes, toy animals and dolls, including doll clothing, houses and furniture and using natural materials to make toys like pine cone birds, bark boats, wooden animals and log trains.

Below is a photo of my youngest daughter’s make-believe fairy, which kept her occupied for hours in the local park, while our car was repaired during a family holiday.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7246There is also a large introductory section on the meaning and importance of play; the three stages of play; appropriate toys for each stage; and outdoor play.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6575

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994

Felt is a wonderful medium for children to sew, as it is strong, firm and colourful; does not fray at the edges; and is easy to cut out into different shapes. Starting with simple embroidery stitches and instructions on making hair, the book describes a wealth of toy materials, construction methods and projects including:

Wooden standing dolls: Gnomes; a royal family; Saint Nicholas; an angel; a mother and baby ; hazelnut children; a wooden doll with moveable arms and legs and matchbox dolls;

Felt Dolls: Basic model; gnomes; woollen dolls; flower children and blossom fairies; finger puppets; and walking dolls;

Dolls with pipe-cleaner frames: Basic model; Christmas gnome; jester; man; and the man in the moon;

Animals and birds: Duck and swan; a bird; a seal; a butterfly mobile; a snail; cats, dogs and mice; a horse; a rooster; simple felt pictures and books;

French knitting and crochet: a picture and bag;

Felt gifts: Balls; jewellery; a gnome and a clown brooch; bookmarks; comb cases; scissor cases; egg cosies; purses and little gift boxes.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6577

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau by M van Leeuwen and J Moeskops 1990

After a brief discussion on arranging seasonal tableaux and basic techniques for making dolls and marionettes with sheep’s wool, cotton, felt, cardboard cones, wire and wood, as well as creating faces and embroidering hair, this lovely book follows the seasons and special celebratory periods with instructions for all the elements of seasonal tableaux from:

Early Spring: Mother Earth and root children;

Spring: Spring fairies; flower children; felt dandelions;

Easter, Ascension and Whitsun: Hen with chicks; hares; sheep with lambs; paper flowers; Whitsun doves and a Whitsun wedding couple;

Summer: Beehive with bees; Summer fairies; grass wreaths; and sandcastles;

Autumn: Pumpkin child; toadstools; teasel hedgehog and spider; a boy with a kite; and a spider web;

Hallowe’en and Martinmas: Lanterns; gnomes; and mice;

Advent and Christmas: Saint Nicholas and assistant; an angel; sheep, oxen and ass; crib figures- Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the shepherds and the three kings;

Winter: King Winter and Mrs Thaw.

It is a wonderful way to develop and promote an appreciation of nature and the seasons in young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6576

My final book, Baby Crafts by Juliet Moxley 1995,  looks at sewing for children and contains 25 wonderful creative projects to make for babies, exposing the latter to the wonderful world of colour.

They are divided into four categories:

First Needs: Moses basket; cot quilt; laundry bag; nappy stacker; travel seat; sleeping bag; night dresses and caps; and rag doll pyjamas case;

Bathing and Playtime: Fish bath mat and mitts; bath robe; cardigan and beret; play mat; painting smocks; and a very cute crazy patchwork teddy;

The Nursery: Torn paper frieze; painted toy box and chair; a delightful wall hanging with pockets based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea; a cot and quilt cover and an animal mobile using reverse applique

Photo of animal patches for mobile

Special Occasions: A beautiful christening robe and pin cushion; some very appealing Christmas stockings; painted plates; and a cross stitch sampler.

While directed primarily at adults, some can be achieved by children like the torn paper frieze and the painting projects. It’s a lovely book and is a great way to generate a love of bright colours and start young children off on their own creative journeys.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6578

 

Books on Doll Making

Last week, I shared my favourite toy and softie books with you. This week, I am focusing on doll making books.

While I tend to make toys rather than cloth dolls these days, cloth doll making is still a wonderful form of self-expression and creativity and these books are classics in the doll making world!

One name that is synonymous with contemporary doll making is that of Susanna Oroyan  (https://www.niada.org/portfolio/susanna-oroyan/). Sadly, she died in 2007, but she left behind her a wealth of doll making knowledge with her books, most of which I own except for her first (Contemporary Artist Dolls: A Collector’s Guide by Susanna Oroyan and Carol-Lynn Rössel-Waugh 1986).

In order of publication, they are:

Fantastic Figures: Ideas and Techniques Using the New Clays 1994

Anatomy of a Doll: The Fabric Sculptor’s Handbook 1997

Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction 1999

Finishing the Figure: Doll Costuming, Embellishments and Accessories 2001

Dolls of the Art Deco Era 1910-1940: Collect, Restore, Create and Play 2004

They are all fabulous books with beautiful dolls, packed with information and very inspiring photographs!

The first book, Fantastic Figures concentrates on working with the new polymer and paper clays, from working armatures to sculpting and curing heads, bodies and limbs, then finishing with painting and wax, as well as wigging, clothing and accessories.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6538

The dolls are so life-like and amazing, but I think cloth dolls and soft sculpture is much more my forté, so her next book Anatomy of a Doll has been very well-perused!

The first section discusses the creative process and the design process in depth, including the origin of ideas and concepts, as well as variations, then looks at the evolution of dolls from elemental, primitive, simple and basic forms (outline dolls and rag dolls) to some very sophisticated figures.

She examines heads and faces, the body and joints (bead, stitched bead and button), working with wire armatures, and finishing the figure with hair, footwear, clothing and bases, as well as a myriad of embellishments, all supported with photograph galleries of other talented dollmaker’s artworks.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6537

Designing the Doll is another essential book for the dollmaker’s library with more fabulous and inspiring art works and a more detailed and comprehensive analysis of doll design and construction.

Part One: Designing the Figure looks at problem solving and making choices, addressing the issues of construction (materials, costumes, embellishments and treatments); sculpture (materials, armatures, moulds); design variations and breaking rules. Considerations of form (animal, realistic human, toy, exaggerated or caricature and abstractions) and design elements (subject and motif, focal point, line, scale, colour, texture, pattern, balance, harmony, and style) are discussed in detail, including basic body proportions, developing patterns and making templates.

Part Two: Construction Materials looks at the nitty-gritty of constructing the head, body and body parts with notes on making moulds (wax, plaster, elasticon, latex and RTV); wire armatures; sculpture mechanics and movement; joint physics, considerations, design and construction; and cloth figure construction.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6534

Finishing the Figure is the final book in the trilogy, looking at costume and elements of design (line, scale, texture and especially colour), as well as a large section on pattern drafting and historical costumery.

The elements of costume include underwear, underpinnings, petticoats and panniers, kirtles and corsets to bodices, skirts, dresses, folk costumes, pockets, headwear and shoes.

The section on embellishments is equally large and ranges from painting, stencils, stamping, embossing, printing, dyeing and burning to machine work, pleating, weaving, felting, beadwork, hand embroidery, lacework and appliqué.

Specialized costume like wings, glasses, jewellery and animals have their own chapter, as do the elements of display, including furniture; doll photography; and transport considerations (packing and shipping).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6536

I bought Dolls of the Art Deco Era to try and discover more about the vintage doll parts in my collection.

Boudoir dolls, which were dolls for adults, were displayed in the bedrooms of the era, especially the porcelain and wax-over-chalk half dolls and heads, which could be attached to pin cushions, purses, powder boxes on the dressing table and even lamps.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6517 I particularly love the flapper wax doll heads, the cloth mask faces made in Belgium and the antique French boudoir half dolls.

While I did not find my dolls in this book, I did learn so much about the Art Deco period, the dolls and dollmakers of the era,  the art of collecting vintage dolls, repairing and storing vintage dolls, and making and costuming boudoir dolls. I suspect most of my collection hails from the 1920s, when Marie Antoinette, Flapper and Harlequin and Pierrot dolls were very popular. See: http://www.jazzageclub.com/fads/the-boudoir-doll-craze/#more-916 for more on boudoir dolls.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6533

Patti Medaris Culea is another well-known name in the doll making book world. See: http://www.pmcdesigns.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/culea.html, as well as her videos on cloth doll making (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpoxSzpx0zQ) and cloth doll faces (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klNPrt0EUao) .

I own three of her books:

Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches For Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques 2003;

Creative Cloth Doll Couture: New Approaches to Making Beautiful Clothing and Accessories 2006;   and

Creative Cloth Explorations: Adventures in Fairy-Inspired Fiber Art 2009.

Patti’s dolls are always very bright, fun and colourful and she makes the most of all the wonderful materials and embellishments available today!

In Creative Cloth Doll Making, she generously shares all her knowledge about the basics: the basic kit; laying out patterns; turning fingers; stuffing body parts; and creating the face, before progressing to all the fun and magical bits: surface coloration with dyes (silk dyes), paints (Dye-NA-Flow; Lumiere paints; pearl-ex pigments; textile paints; Prismacolor pencils; gel pens and Zig Millenium pens) and stamps (Impress Me); working with Tyvek, liners and machine embroidery; beading using Peyote and bead embroidery techniques; and collage with fabric, beading and photo transfer.

She explores all these techniques with backup projects like the Beginning Doll, seen on the front cover, and a gallery of other artists’ work. The patterns for the projects are in the back, as well as details about the contributing artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6541After an introductory chapter on making the basic cloth doll, Creative Cloth Doll Couture focuses on costumes and accessories.

There are four wardrobes: a 1940s Haute Couture stylish suit; a 1960s Flower Power outfit; a Formal Affair and a whimsical Fairy Gathering, each section a platform for teaching specific techniques like collage and layering appliqués, fibres and transfers (1960s);  working with beads, lace, satin and silk (Formal affair); and dyeing, painting and stamping (Fairy outfit) and again, reinforcing and inspiring with a gallery of other artist’s work.

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Her last book, Creative Cloth Explorations has a similar presentation to the previous two books, but dives headlong into the fairy world, a perfect venue for indulging in extreme creativity!

The first chapter on basic techniques and supplies for fibre arts is a bit longer and more comprehensive than its counterpart in the other books and covers: the basic sewing kit; the basic beading kit; the basic embellishing kit; making stencils; using silk rods, waste and cocoons; stabilizers; photo transfer; threads, needles and presser feet; colour; embellishments and embroidery and beading stitches.

There are some wonderful projects: an Art Nouveau Fairy themed journal with fairy pages and a book mark and a fairy fan, as well as gallery pages showcasing the inspiring work of other artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6540

Making Creative Cloth Dolls by Marthe Le Van 2002

My final book with some wonderful totemic and abstract spirit dolls!

Basic materials and techniques are covered in the first chapter by Barbara Carleton Evans with some useful notes on design, journaling, conceptualizing and proportion and movement.

Marthe then presents a series of Blank Canvas projects, based on basic forms: Clarity; Energy and Strength for the reader to make, then decorate and embellish creatively.

She also asked four other doll artists to decorate them as well as a platform for showing different techniques and the huge potential and versatility of the craft. She also invited ten talented designers to create unique patterns to showcase more inspirational ideas.

Along the way, she also discusses the use of doll making for personal growth; art therapy and healing; and past historical and cultural associations, including health insurance, good luck, fertility, magic, the supernatural world and sacrifice.

There are a number of contemporary photo galleries for further inspiration: a Gallery of Mystics;  a Gallery of Storytellers;  a Gallery of Angels and Demons; a Gallery of Legends; and a Gallery of Body Language.

This is a particularly good book for beginners and people with limited experience, as it promotes creativity and imagination without overwhelming the reader!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6543

Other sources of inspiration include doll making groups, like Western Dollmakers, in Western Australia ( http://westerndollmakers.com/), magazines like Art Doll Quarterly http://www.artdollquarterly.com/ and https://stampington.com/blog/ and commercial patterns.

There are so many talented artists in the cloth doll world. Some of my favourites include:

Julie McCullough of Magic Threads: https://www.magicthreads.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/mccullough.html, as well as designers like: Elise Peeples; Jo Maxwell; Bev Bradford; Ann Clemens; Priscilla McDonald; Maxine Gallagher and  Sally Lampi eg The Weather Vane in the photo below.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7211Many of their patterns can be sourced on websites like: https://dollmakersjourney.com and http://dollmakersjourney.net/ and Pinterest is also a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas.

Next week, I will be looking at books about sewing with and for children. Until then, Happy Creating!

Books about Toymaking

Last week, I shared my toymaking journey with you. Here are some of the books in my craft library for the aspiring toymakers amongst you!

Sewing Sculpture by Charleen Kinser 1977

One of my very first books on soft sculpture and still a favourite for its originality, its notes on design and its patterns.

The first two chapters discuss the inherent qualities of the craft; developing visual awareness and clarifying your perception; and recognizing symbols and form.

The next chapter takes a comprehensive look at the nature of different materials:

Fibres: Cotton, linen, wool, silk, acrylic, nylon and polyester;

Fabrics: Woven, knitted and felted fabrics;

Other materials: Leathers, fur, fleece and vinyls;

Threads and Yarns, both utilitarian and decorative: Mercerized cotton, linen, silk, nylon and polyester; and

Fillers: Cotton or polyester batting; down; foam rubber and polyurethane foam; styrofoam pellets, dried straw and grasses; excelsior; wood shavings and sawdust; sand and pebbles; sewing and knitting scraps; and aromatic dried herbs and flowers.

It also discusses the workplace and the tools of the trade: Sewing machine; shears; needles; pressing aids and stuffing aids.

Design is a major part of sewn sculpture and is covered in two chapters with notes on:

Idea and concept;

Elements of surface design elements: Colour; pattern and texture; theme; contrast and comparisons; transitions; variation and repetition;

Elements of drama: Proportion; composition; and staging;

Seams and darts: Placement and type;

Borrowing shapes from objects and patterns; and

Materials as a point of departure.

The thoosing fabrics; pattern and fabric preparation; stitching and types of seams; stuffing; special considerations for working with leather, fake fur and knits; surface ornamentation and batik; and making geometric forms (box, cone, tube, opposing triangles and squares, softball, closed doughnut, spiral and globe) are all discussed in the next two chapters before presenting a variety of wonderful patterns:

Floor cushions and nest chairs; scallop and marble cone pillows; pillow dolls; tiny witches and life-size grannies; floral toads and huge grizzly bears and seal sliders; some wonderful ogres and an orphan Annie doll; an Art Nouveau plant form and a beautiful leather gentle beast; and finally, a set of soft sculpture heads.

This book is full of wonderfully creative ideas and possibilities and is a terrific book for toymakers wanting to design their own original patterns!

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Toys For Your Delight by Winsome Douglass 1962

Another excellent old book, written by embroidery expert Winsome Douglass, which has a similarly broad scope, allowing for plenty of creativity and personal self-expression. The introduction covers the basics:

Tools and equipment;

Materials and the use of paper mounts with fraying materials;

Surface decoration: embroidery, appliqué, beads and sequins;

Embroidery stitches; and

Stuffing.

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The majority of the book is devoted to patterns, but the instructions are general and allow for lots of variations. The simplest form of toy is a ball, with patterns given for four-sectioned, six-sectioned and eight-sectioned balls.BlogSoftToys2015-04-22 08.58.14The chapter on animals starts with notes on wiring, manes and tails, ears and eyes, horns, decorated heads and moveable legs before describing a variety of separate animals: a dachshund, reindeer, cow, horses and deer, a sitting cat and a tiger, a lizard and toad, and a magical griffin.

The chapter on birds starts with notes on beaks, heads and crests, tails, wings, and feet, legs and stands with patterns for sitting ducks and hens, small birds on conical stands and cockerels on cotton reels,  and two standing birds, all magnificently embroidered.

Insects and fish are also covered with notes on insect wings, legs and feelers and hints on design and patterns for wasps, flies, ladybirds, butterflies, fish and sea-serpents. More complex creatures include a rocking bird, a tortoise, a pig, a camel, a donkey and cart, a French poodle, an elephant, an alligator and dragonflies.

Papier-maché toys, Christmas decorations and dolls and their toys are also covered in depth. Below are a few photos of Christmas decorations I have made using this book: BlogSoftToys2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7226While many of the toys shown in the colour plates look a little dated now, the use of modern materials and bright colours would totally revolutionize their appearance and I love the bold black-and-white designs in this book. It allows for plenty of individuality and creativity in the execution of its patterns.

However, if you would prefer more detailed precise patterns, so you can reproduce exactly the same toy described, then the next suite of books are perfect for you!

Titmouse Cottage Designs by Christine Brooke 1992 is an Australian book, based on an original range of woodland characters for her shop Titmouse Cottage: Mr and Mrs Nibble, Amelia, Miss Poppet, Rosebud and Missy Mouse. Patterns and step-by-step instructions for making and dressing these delightful little felt mice make it easy to reproduce them.

The author also gives introductory notes on equipment, materials, working with felt, stuffing, attaching beads and lace and general instructions for making ears, paws, heads, noses and eyes, whiskers, tails, glasses, mob caps and sleeves with patterns and pattern layouts in the back of the book. Each specific pattern details the mouse’s size and personality, materials used and method, including black-and white sketches and colour plates. They are very sweet little characters, which I would love to try making one day, especially Rosebud and seamstress, Miss Poppet!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6556

Little Grey Rabbit’s Pattern Book by Pamela Peake 1988 is based on the world of Little Grey Rabbit, created by much-loved British children’s author Alison Uttley with patterns and clothes for five characters: Little Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Old Hedgehog, Weasel and Hare.

General directions include notes on patterns, fur fabric choice, layouts, cutting, seams, ladder stitching, stuffing, safety eyes, whiskers and tape hinges for limbs. They are lovely patterns, though those in the next book are even more attractive.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6557

Sue Dolman’s Book of Animal Toys by Sue Dolman 1994 also features mainly British animals, the exception being Kenny the Koala! General notes are provided on fabrics and furs, equipment, patterns, cutting out, trimming fur, stitching, trimming seams, turning, filling and the assembly of body parts.

Characters include: Freddie and Freda Fox, Brewster and Bertha Bear, Kenny Koala, Reggie and Rosie Rabbit, Bertie Badger and the entire mouse family: Mrs Maisie Mouse, Baby Mouse, Miss Molly Mouse and Master Monty Mouse.

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Each project includes actual-size patterns, notes on materials, step-by-step instructions and drawings and clothing. I used the pattern for baby mouse to create these cute felt mice in the photo below and could easily make up some of the other patterns, especially Bertha Bear and Baby Mouse’s mother, Mrs Maisie Mouse.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7236Countryside Softies by Amy Adams 2011 is another favourite toymaking book with 28 very cute and whimsical woollen creatures made out of recycled felted old jumpers or blankets, though I prefer to use ordinary felt, having had to do a major clean-out of my severely-clogged front-loading washing machine after trying to felt an old jumper. I think having an old top-loader expressly for felting would be ideal!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6559

Tools and equipment, materials and notions, embroidery stitches and detailed notes on felting wool and making weighted bodies; tummy and chest patches; snouts and beaks; eyes, mouths and ears; wings, feet, claws and arms; tails; whiskers; and insect legs and antennae are all discussed in the introduction, before presenting groupings of patterns according to their home environment:

In the Hedgerow: Fox; rabbit; hedgehog; robin; bumblebee; and butterfly;

Amongst the Woodlands: Squirrel; badger; owl; mouse; and toadstool; and

Along the Riverbank: Otter; swan; duck; kingfisher; and dragonfly.

There are patterns for baby versions, as well as related plant materials and props like bulrushes, carrots, chestnuts, fish and eggs, and notes on making mobiles and finger puppets. Each project details requirements and assembly instructions, while the patterns are in the back of the book, along with a list of resources. You can see more of her work at: http://www.lucykatecrafts.co.uk/ and http://lucykatecrafts.blogspot.com/.

I just adore her style, the mixture of felt/ wool with floral patches; her recycling ethics; and her patterns. They are seriously cute! I have made her Baby Rabbit for my daughter for Easter one year, but am keen to try my hand at her Fox; Robin; Badger; Owl; Mouse; Toadstool; Duck and Kingfisher.

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I have mentioned the next book briefly in my post on Fabulous Felting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/, which also describes a few other books on toymaking, as does my post on Knitting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/06/26/books-for-winter-knitting-part-two/.

Sew Soft Toys: Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 2007

A lovely book from our Steiner years using cotton, drill, flannel, towelling, wool gabardine, wool felt, fur and dupion silk to make dogs and cats; mice and bunnies; horses, donkeys and zebras; cows, sheep and pigs; seals and penguins; red and polar foxes; brown bears and polar bears; weasels; and elephants, camels and giraffes, all with baby equivalents and notes on variations (eg transforming the bunny into a squirrel)!  I used this book to make Jen a camel and Caro an embroidered piglet.BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 014BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7232 There are introductory notes on fabrics and stuffing materials; washing instructions and storage; and sewing and stuffing with detailed notes on materials; patterns and step-by-step instructions for assembling and stuffing each project.BlogSoftToys2017-08-28 18.04.20 They are lovely patterns and I am keen to make more, especially the mice (little grey mouse in photo above); the donkey; and the African elephant.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6560

It will be a very useful book for pcreating my Noah’s Ark Christmas ornaments!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Soft Friends From Cast-Off Socks and Gloves by Miyako Kanamori  2005

This book also appealed to my recycling and thrifty instincts, as well as being exceedingly cute!

Written from the point of view of the characters created, it is a charming book, which introduces all the sock creatures first and tells their stories, before getting down to the details of their assembly in the back of the book with detailed notes and sketches. Gloves were used to make Billy the Dog and the rabbit, bear, pig and panda, while mittens were used to make the mouse and bonus fish. Marcus the Monkey and the dog, cat, sheep, bird, fish, elephant, zebra and girl were all made from old socks.

I just loved Billy the Dog, who features on the front cover and whose face can be portrayed in so many different ways, changing his character totally. I also loved the sheep, the mouse, the sock fish, the bear, the elephant and the zebra. Clothing patterns are also provided to dress the characters.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6561

Steampunk Softies: Scientifically Minded Dolls From a Past That Never Was by Sarah Skeate and Nicola Tedman 2011

And now, for something completely different…! I just love the originality and creativity of steam punk and the fact that anything goes!! Materials and accessories; cutting out; gluing; and ageing fabrics with wax, toothpaste, chalk, scratching and bleaching to give that essential timeworn appearance and ‘authenticity’ are all discussed in the introduction, followed by detailed notes on each project’s personality; materials and equipment; and assembly and construction.

Characters include: the mysterious illusionist and teleporter, Tompion Zeitgeist; the deep sea diver, Fathomless Tilt *; the Steam Punk Lady, Marveletta O’Houlihan; the mining prospector, Geronimo Bore; the intrepid explorer, Floyd Fastknight *; the aviatrix, Charity Storm; the lady detective, Minerva Dupine* and the steam punk doctor, Ferris Scapula.  They are all delightful characters, with my favourites highlighted with an asterix *.

It’s a wonderful way to use up all those obscure bits and pieces in your hoard and letting your creativity run wild!BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6562

Finally, a book on top dollmakers and the secrets of their trade:

We Make Dolls: Top Doll Makers Share Their Secrets and Patterns by Jenny Doh 2012

After a brief section by Jenny Doh, in which she discusses templates, seam allowances, doll making tools, embroidery and hand stitches and tips and techniques, including clipping and notching curves, turning and stuffing, raw-edge applique and rotating joints, the doll makers themselves are introduced, complete with websites; notes on their dollmaking journeys; tips and secrets; and patterns with finished sizes, materials, preparation and step-by-step construction notes.

I particularly liked the style and work of Mimi Kirchner (http://mimikirchner.com/blog/) and Denise Ferragamo (http://deniseferragamo.blogspot.com/). I particularly liked Denises’s Matryoshka dolls, which can be seen on: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/374784000213602208/?lp=true and https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/864409722201944266/. It is also well worth exploring Mimi’s blog with links to other useful and inspiring craft and art blogs.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6563

Next week, I will be sharing some of my favourite dollmaking books.

My Soft Toy Making Journey

I have always enjoyed soft toy sculpture, whether it be toy animals or dolls, due to the infinite opportunities this medium affords for creativity, originality and self-expression, as well as the way that the further the project develops, the more it takes on a life of its own!

My soft toy journey started with Edward and Rosie, two bears I made for my young daughters at a workshop in Hobart.

A stint at the Steiner school introduced me to Steiner dolls, felt and wool fairies and animals and hobby horses.

When the children were older, I attended another weekend workshop in Armidale with Helen Gould, where I made a classic country rag doll, Country Sally. My 8 year old daughter had to join me on the Saturday afternoon, as her Dad was busy and the other participants and Caroline were so enamoured with each other that they made her a mini doll for her to dress and decorate on the Sunday (white-haired doll on the right).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7206 It resulted in a further Mother-and-Daughter workshop for Mothers Day, where my two daughters and I made three delightful dolls based on Helen’s pattern Petal and Flower Bud. Jen made a green doll, Caro a blue doll and mine is in the middle!

After that experience, there was no stopping them. Ten year old Jenny went on to make me another doll for my birthday (the remaining doll in the Country Sally photo) and the two girls enjoyed crafting Christmas angels on the kitchen table.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - CopyBlogSoftToys2015-10-13 14.31.53In late August 2000, I treated myself with a good friend to Millenium Madness, the first Doll-O-Rama Cloth Doll Symposium at Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, in Brisbane, Queensland. It was wonderfully stimulating and creative! See if you can find me!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6547 We were given a showbag of goodies, including a cute sun badge, each one unique. BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6549

We had to take along a small brooch for a pin doll swap on registration. I replaced my Wollomombi Wock Wallaby (a play on the rock wallabies, who lived in the nearby Wollomombi Gorge, NSW) with a beaded totem doll made by well-known dollmaker Lynne Butcher (http://members.tripod.com/lynne_butcher/index.html).

There were fabulous displays, competitions, shopping bazaars with all manner of wonderful doll making paraphernalia and a huge variety of workshops. I enjoyed three totally different courses. My first workshop was a Felting Madness with Ann Maullin (http://gumnutdolliesnewcastle.blogspot.com/2009/07/ann-maullin-oriental-dance.html and http://annmaullin.blogspot.com/), who had beautiful dolls in sea colours and a lovely manner. Here is a photo of my friend and I on the right with Ann Maullin (yellow tshirt) and two other students.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6548Geraldene Just was next with her highly creative Shellyback Bogles, mythical creatures who arrived from Scotland as stowaways in the convict ships’ ballast and went on to colonise the drains and sewers of Brisbane. Because they lived in dark places, their colours were dull and neutral, their character relying more on textures and feel.

It was a full-on fast workshop with no time for cutting threads or tidying up ends, as Geraldine was keen for us to go home with a finished sculpture, plus the requirements list had been a bit sparse, so a few of us found the whole process slightly stressful, but after being given some of the missing materials required and getting to the decorating stage, I relaxed and got lost in the wonderful world of imagination! I had taken in an old broken metal steamer, which came in very handy as a metal collar for my warrior of the drains, who cleaned old bird nests off the sewer walls with an old toothbrush.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7218

Another concern Geraldine had was the fact that all the bogles might look the same, but she need not have worried. All took on different appearances and personas, depending on the materials used and their makers’ different personalities. I have noticed this trait time and time again when doing workshops with other participants. See how different they all are!

I enjoyed making this creature so much that I made him a bride when I returned home.

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My final workshop, Amazing Annie, was with the bubbly, energetic and enthusiastic Jane Coughlan (http://clothdollpatterns.com/patterns2/id32.htm and https://dollmakersjourney.com/coughlan.html) with her humorous dolls, which shared their designer’s happiness and joy. However, I was exhausted by this stage, so never finished this doll. It certainly was a memorable experience and a great way to celebrate the first year of the new millennium!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7222Another very happy and joyful dollmaker, who shares my love of colour, is another American dollmaker, Patti Medaris Culea (http://www.pmcdesigns.com/). My daughters and I met her at a Craft Show in Sydney in February 2002 (photo above) and I own a number of her books.

Jodie Carleton (http://vintagericrac.blogspot.com/) of Ric Rac taught me to make her toy elephants Parsley and Beet at a workshop in Ballarat (see photo below) and I also attended a weekend workshop in 2011 with Melly and Me (https://www.mellyandme.com/) and other textile artists at Peppers, Hepburn Springs, Daylesford.BlogSoftToys2515-03-23 18.13.53

I also booked in for a workshop with the highly imaginative and creative American doll artist, Akira Blount, at the Geelong Fibre Forum 2011, but unfortunately had to cancel, much to my everlasting regret, as I have since found out she died in 2013. Here is her obituary: http://www.923wnpc.com/cgi-bin/newspost/viewnews.cgi?category=1&id=1375876604.

She really created some amazing  and original artworks, which you can see in her gallery: https://www.akirastudios.com. I particularly loved her work from 2001 to 2004. Below is a selection of toys I have made over the years…

I really enjoy toymaking and while I get many of my patterns online or commercially, I also own a number of books in my craft library.

So, the next three book posts will cover felt toys and animals; soft toy dolls; and finally, sewing with children.

Books for Winter: Knitting Part One

Now that it’s Winter, it’s an ideal time to get out those needles and wool, cosy up in front of the fire and start knitting! While I am definitely no expert in the art form, hence I suspect my large number of books on the subject, I have still managed to make quite a few scarves and hats over the years, which I will feature throughout this post, including the odd challenging and stimulating technique! I actually did do a brief course in knitting at TAFE years ago, some of whose samples are also featured in this post!

Here are some of the knitting books in my craft library, which I have found particularly useful! Because this post is quite long, I have divided it into two posts: General Knitting Books (Beginners and Advanced) this week and Designers and Patterns (including toys) next week.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.47.42General Knitting Books

Beginner Knitters

How To Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course Complete With Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitch Libraries and Projects For Your Home and Family by Debbie Bliss 1999

An excellent book for the beginner, the Introduction covers yarns and equipment and instructions for working from a pattern and knitting a tension swatch, to holding the yarn and needles, making a slip knot, casting on and off, increasing and decreasing, the basic stitches and the first of a number of simple projects throughout the book to familiarise the reader with the techniques.32476691_10156215149529933_7249506115308748800_nChapter Two covers single and double rib, picking up stitches, making a stitch and cast-off buttonhole, as well as a simple stitch pattern library.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.34.37While Aran knitting, with its intricate cables, twists and bobbles creating amazing textures, is the subject of Chapter Three, personally I was more drawn to the colour workshop in Chapter Four with its emphasis on Fair Isle and Intarsia techniques. Joining in yarn, securing ends, weaving and stranding, working from a chart and working in the round with circular needles or a set of four needles is also covered.BlogKnittingBooks2518-05-13 13.38.47Chapter Five focuses on lace knitting, with instructions on yarn overs, additional decreases and making lace edging, as well as a lace stitch library of pretty lace patterns. While I will probably never do the complicated -looking entrelac knitting, it is still good to know that I can learn how-to in Chapter Six! I am more likely to use Chapter Seven, which discusses all the decorative details like embroidery, Swiss darning, loop knitting and fringing, the use of sequins and beads, making pompoms and cords, and finishing a garment with a decorative hem.

For more experienced knitters, there is a Design Workshop in Chapter Eight, which discusses design  principles and how to design a simple sweater, making sweater calculations, patterns and motifs, edgings and designing for children.

The final chapter appropriately focuses on finishing the garment: Making up and joining pieces, seams, picking up dropped stitches, unravelling, finishing fabrics by blocking and pressing and caring for knitwear.

Standard knitting abbreviations and yarn weights are included in the appendix, along with a list of stockists.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.27

The Encyclopedia of Knitting: Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitches and Inspirational Designs by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths 2000

Another excellent book covering the basics, it is divided into three parts:

The Essentials: Materials, basic skills, and essential and additional know-how, including four different cast-on methods, knit and purl, garter and stockinette stitches, seven cast-off methods, picking up dropped stitches, shaping a garment with increases and decreases, picking up stitches, reading patterns and charts, understanding gauge, making up, hems and facings, fastenings, grafting, turning rows and bias and chevron knitting.

The Stitch Collection advances from basic knit and purl and ribs through cables, twists, bobbles and leaves and lace to stranded colour knitting, intarsia and special effects like cross-stitch and embroidery, incorporating beads and sequins, loops, slipstitch colour knitting, motif entrelac, tucks and pleats and circular knitting. The chunky cowl below was knitted in seed stitch on circular needles to a free pattern called Marian by Jane Richmond. See: http://www.janerichmond.com/products/marian-cowl.

BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1507BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.37.49Design and Inspiration covers the fundamentals of the design process: Measuring and number crunching, planning repeats, motifs and patterns, combining colour and cables, circular yokes and designing a cardigan, as well as a gallery of vintage patterns from the 1920s to the 1960s, multicultural influences, contemporary designers, colour and texture and knitting for kids and for fun.

In the back is a key to chart symbols, needle sizes and abbreviations and a glossary and index.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-17 10.58.18Knitting: Over 20 Exciting Projects For you To Make For Home and Family  Published by  Treasure Press 1986

This simple old book was my introduction to knitting back in my early married days and I am including it, because it was the source of my very first completed project and introduced me to the art of Fair Isle Knitting.

There is a brief history of knitting at the start, followed by information on different types of yarns and needles, needle sizes, basic skills and shaping, advanced techniques like cables, bobbles, buttonholes and colour work, reading patterns, tension and abbreviations and stitch symbols.

Stitch patterns include ribs, Aran patterns, colourwork, lace, slipstitch colourwork and lacy edgings.

There is also a small section on finishing off, laundry symbols, aftercare, design and decorative finishes.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.01.37

The rest of the book is devoted to patterns for a variety of sweaters and dresses, baby layouts, cushion covers and bedspreads and a beautiful Fair Isle trio of socks, gloves and hat, the latter which I knitted for my two girls- the book’s bright version for Caro in the photo below and a softer version in pastel blue, pink and green mohair for Jen.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.27.30

And lastly, for the kids…!

Fun With Wool Published by the Australian Wool Corporation 1981

An oldie, but a goodie, from which my children learnt to knit. It starts with Finger Knitting and  French Knitting with a homemade nancy, though we used the old wooden cotton reels with four nails in the top, as well as plying, plaiting and twisting cords and making wool collages.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-18 07.42.53Basic Knitting is next with easy  illustrated instructions for casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, stocking stitch and rib, increasing and decreasing, joining seams; reading a pattern, tension, pompoms and tassels and embroidery stitches.

There are many suggestions for knitted projects from jewellery, finger puppets and toys to pencil cases,tennis racquet covers, patchwork throws, scarves, hats and mittens, and simple jumpers made out of squares and rectangles.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.22.43

There are also chapters on basic crochet; simple weaving using cardboard looms or picture frames, forked branches and even cross of two sticks to make a God’s Eye; and basic spinning using a pencil or spindle. Here are two photos of my children knitting scarves- 14 year old Caroline knitting a bright colourful scarf for the Armidale Winter (above) and our 20 year old university student Jenny, who made us all long red scarves in the even colder Canberra Winter.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.46 She also commemorated her knitting forays in this cute illustration and even her own song- ‘The Long Red Scarf’!BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.52More Advanced Knitters

The Handknitter’s Design Book: A Practical Guide To Creating Beautiful Knitwear by Alison Ellen 1992

While probably a bit advanced for me, this book is perfect for knitters, who want to create their own designs! It starts by examining the precedents of knitting- its history and traditional techniques; different kinds of yarn: wool, alpaca/angora and cashmere, cotton and linen, silk, synthetics and more unusual material like string and ribbon, rags and waste packaging; the properties of stretch and drape; choosing needles, tension and basic knitting techniques with all the possible variations including casting on and off; picking up stitches and colour knitting. The swatches below feature in order: Simple Cable Ribs (Cable to the left; Cable to the right); Horseshoe Cable; and Plaited Cable.

Texture, colour and patterns (horizontal/vertical and diagonal stripes; grids and checks; dots and repeat motifs; geometric; motifs; pictorial/floral and abstract/ random) are examined in great detail in Chapters Four to Six, while Chapter Seven focuses on shapes and details: block patterns; calculations and measurements; adjustments for different body shapes; shape variations-chevrons; waisted shapes, peplums and frills; skirts; sleeves and cuffs; armholes; necks; collars; openings; buttonholes and loops; pockets; and joins and seams. Below is a photo of a beautiful Broken Cable Pullover, which I bought thirty years ago and which still attracts admiring comments every Winter!BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1491The Stitch Library is an excellent reference guide to over 50 different types of knitting stitches and is followed by a few projects, which can be used as a starting point for your own individual designs, with basic patterns for triangular and diagonal shawls; simple jumpers, cardigans and hats; and cushions.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.35

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore 1988

While designing my own garment from scratch is probably beyond my capabilities, I do love colour and am much more prepared to take up the challenge of Fair Isle knitting, with which I have had a lifelong love affair! In fact, we even spent a weekend staying at a bird observatory lodge on the Fair Isle, when we visited the United Kingdom in 1994. While we were there, I bought a beautiful warm polo neck jumper from some local knitters, featured in the photo below.BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1498BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1497Alice Starmore is a foremost authority on Fair Isle knitting and I own two of her books, one of which I have already featured in my post on Design Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/01/23/craft-books-colour-design-and-inspiration-part-one/.

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While Charts for Colour Knitting has a distinctly multicultural feel with traditional and adapted patterns from all over the world, her Book of Fair Isle Knitting is specific to this beautiful little isolated island, with the first chapter giving a brief overview of the island’s history, as well as the origins and development of its unique style of stranded knitting.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.28.33

In Chapter Two, she discusses Pattern: the different types; reading pattern charts and creating patterns with a pattern library for Peerie, Border, Large, Allover, Norwegian Stars and Seeding patterns. Chapter Three focuses on Colour: its effect on and use in design with a gallery of different colour combinations for inspiration, while Chapter Four really gets down to the nitty-gritty with an emphasis on Technique: Circular knitting; Tension/ gauge; Casting-on; English and Continental knitting methods; Weaving in strands and corrugated ribbing; Increases and decreases; Steeks (the Scottish word for bridging openings like cardigan fronts or armholes when circular knitting); Joining knitting; Trimmings (buttonholes, pompoms, fringes and cords) and the care of Shetland wool garments.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.29.24

The Wardrobe of Patterns contains patterns for ganseys, sweaters, cardigans, jackets, vests and accessories (tammy, gloves and mittens), so the readers can gain confidence before embarking on the final section titled: Creating Your Own Designs, definitely a section for the more advanced knitter than myself!!!

It discusses measurements, drawing a plan, gauge, calculating stitches and rows, fitting patterns into widths/ lengths, centreing patterns, and  progressing from design to working instructions.

There are notes on designing tammies and caps; a gansey with a gusset (love the phrase!); gansey variations; cardigans; and variations in the shape and style of necklines, sleeves and lengths.

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An excellent reference guide for anyone interested in developing their knowledge and skill in Fair Isle Knitting!

Next week, we will feature books on knitting designers and their patterns.

Drawing and Art Library: Part Two: Art Books For Children

Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed  about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.

She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :

Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.

Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and  a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.

By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!

By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and  because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!

Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/   and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!BlogArtBooks70%IMG_8320Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.

You Can Draw Anything by Kim Gamble 1994

We were lucky enough to attend a talk given by the creator of Tashi at my children’s primary school in Armidale. For information about Kim, see: http://tashibooks.com/Kimgamble.html about Kim, for information about the Tashi books, see: http://tashibooks.com/books.html and for Kim’s illustration process, it is especially worth watching: http://tashibooks.com/illustrating.html. Another excellent video clip can be found on http://tashibooks.com/Creators.html, as well as on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVxuefbKqoI.

I was so sad to discover during my research for this post that Kim had died in February 2016 at the far too early age of 63 years old! See his tribute by Anna Fienberg, his co-creator of the Tashi books at: http://readingtime.com.au/vale-kim-gamble-13-july-1952-19-february-2016/.

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I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy.  Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.

He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!

Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!

Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999

Quentin Blake is very well-known for his illustrations for many of Roald Dahl’s books, favourites among children, so the illustrations in this delightful sketching guide are very familiar and appealing to  children, their parents and  Roald Dahl readers. See: https://www.quentinblake.com/; https://www.quentinblake.com/tags/roald-dahl; and http://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2016/march/quentin-blake-collaborating-with-roald-dahl.

BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.37.35This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.31.56 and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.08The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.26BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.36 I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60);BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.35.47 Birds (Page 63); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.36.20 and Pigs (Page 65). BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.36.10The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008.BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 15.58.37 Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.34.46Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.35.34It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.

You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service

A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.08.52 Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.37.15How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters  by Moira Butterfield 1995

A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.01.50

There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - CopyPlease note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.

Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!  

Craft Books: Colour, Design and Inspiration: Part Two

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.

Children’s Books

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!BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - Copy 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.

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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.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (793)

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;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (798)

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;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (799)

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.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (800)

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.

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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!

Cerebral Inspiration

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.

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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!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (816)

This scanned page (page 9) shows the way it is organized:BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (817)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).

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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!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (820)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

Digital libraries: For example, the World Digital Library www.wdl.org/en; Flickr Commons www.flickr.com/commons and Europeana www.europeana.eu.

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).BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (827) 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!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (833) 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.BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (825) 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.

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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!