While I would probably classify myself as a textile artist, with the majority of my books covering the textile crafts of embroidery; sewing and dressmaking; patchwork, appliqué and quilting; soft toy making; felting; knitting and crochet; textile dyeing; printing; and paper crafts, I also own a few books on other fibre crafts like basketry, making corn dollies, whittling, bread dough sculpture and making paper kites and lanterns, as well as those using totally different mediums, including wax (candle making); glass (jewellery making); and clay (mosaics, handmade tiles and sculpture). Many of these crafts are relatively cheap, as they use natural materials (plant fibres, bread, wood, paper, wax and sand or dirt) and forces (hands, wind, light) and can be enjoyed at both a beginner or advanced level. Here is a selection of books accrued during my journey through life!
Basketry and Weaving With Natural Materials by Pat Dale 1998
I have always loved baskets and have been fascinated for years by the whole basketmaking process, so when I discovered that we had an active basketmaking group, Basketeers Wyndham, here on the Far South Coast of NSW, I spent a day with them at their local meeting place, the Willy Wagtail Café, Wyndham. They are a lovely group and very generous with their time, knowledge and materials and I really enjoyed making the small basket below, however I did not pursue the craft further due to early arthritic changes in both my hands (feltmaking also went by the way for the same reason- I need to save my hands for embroidery!), not to mention the fact that you need heaps of room to dry, process and store natural fibres from the garden. However, if you are interested in basket making, joining a basketmaking group is a great way to learn basic hands-on techniques, as well as being a lot of fun!I would also highly recommend this book as an excellent beginner’s guide to basketry and weaving with natural materials. It starts with a large section on natural materials: the leaves of agave, arum lily, bulrush, cane grass, canna lily, corn, cymbidium, Hemerocallis, dianella, ginger, gladioli, iris, cliveas, kangaroo paw, lomandra, phormium, kniphofia, and a variety of rushes and palms; and the stems of box thorn, native hibiscus, lavender, wattles, elms and oaks, kurrajong, paperbark and casuarinas, clematis, coral pea, dodder, ivy, jasmine, lawyer vine, lignum and wisteria, including a description, harvesting and preparation notes, and availability. It’s a wonderful sideline for gardeners, as you can use all your prunings and old leaves to great effect with zero waste! Below are photos of Monbretia (on the left) and Kniphofia (on the right), whose strappy leaves are perfect for basketry materials!
The book progresses to teaching basic techniques like under-and-over weaving; braiding and plaiting with three strands, basic melon basket construction and basket coiling with easy random stitching and using natural plant dyes, as well as providing instructions for a few easy projects, including harvest dolls, tassels, lavender wands or bottles, three palm sheath containers, a plaited and sewn Autumn mat, a stitched and coiled basket and a God’s Eye. Throughout the book are excellent diagrams and beautiful colour photographs of natural materials and projects.
I have attended many different craft classes during my life, some more obscure than others, like Painting Ukrainian Easter Eggs and Making Corn Dollies, and this next book resulted from the latter workshop.
Discovering Corn Dollies by M. Lambeth 1994
Corn dollies are decorative art forms made from straw since pagan times to celebrate successful harvests and bring good luck and fertility. This little paperback describes the huge wealth of legends and traditions surrounding them; the basic plaiting technique; and all the different designs: the traditional dolly or Neck; a variety of Countryman’s Favours; the Glory; the Mare; the Staffordshire Knot; the Cambridgeshire Handbell and Umbrella; Horns; the Crook; the Crown; the Suffolk Horseshoe; the Pickering Chalice; the Yorkshire Candlestick; the Essex Terret; Mother Earth; Heredfordshire and Welsh Fans and Scandinavian Christmas Ornaments. While there is a small amount of basic instruction, it is more a theoretical book, but does give a good idea of this craft’s long history and traditions.
Bread Dough Creations by Susan Roach 1993
Another obscure phase, which didn’t last very long in my childhood, was modelling bread dough creations and they can be surprisingly effective and quite pretty, given their unlikely source of material. This small book showcases this art form very well, describing the materials and basic techniques and a number of projects embellished with bread dough flowers and shapes from jewellery, hair combs and headbands, and hand mirrors and photo frames to thimbles, jewellery boxes, candle holders, serviette rings, wall plaques, door hangers and door wedges. It certainly is a cheap hobby, a great use for old bread and a fun craft to try with your kids.
Whittling by Rosalie Brown 1977
Another cheap and fun craft for kids and adults alike is whittling wood. All it requires is a wood and a penknife and lots of practice and patience, though you do need tools to sharpen the knife, as well as sandpaper, varnishes and paints to finish the work. Chapters cover: sharpening a penknife; woods and how to identify them, basic carving techniques and safety considerations, and notes for carving a wide variety of projects, including paper knives; picnic cutlery; chopsticks; napkin rings; animals and birds; chess pieces; walking sticks; and totem poles and symbols. Soap and plaster carving are also discussed. It is a comprehensive little book, which should provide hours of fun and inspiration.
Kites by Didier Carpentier and Joël Bachelet 1981
Making and flying kites is another fun hobby! It too has a long history, originating in China 4000 years ago, and is popular all over the world, especially in China, Japan and Korea. The first few chapters discuss the history and stories behind kites; the necessary safety precautions; the parts of a kite; classification of designs and categories; physical aspects; winds; methods for measuring altitude; the take-off; and problem areas, causes and remedies, followed by a more detailed examination of the different parts of the kite (bridles and keels, knots, tails, reels); tools and materials; basic instructions for making and decorating paper and collapsible nylon kites and descriptions of a wide variety of different types of kites with some amazing appearances and structures and names like the Dragon, the Cobra and the Centipede to the Triple Conyne; Double-sailed Roller; Pomoserf, Saconney and Cody; and the Stunter and the Fourré 43.
In our early years of married life, we made a basic paper kite, based on the old nursery rhyme about the cow that jumped over the moon, for a family kite flying competition, in which we came a very creditable second place!Magic Lanterns by Mary Maguire 2002
Lanterns have also fascinated me over the years with some memorable nights on the banks of the Lismore (2004 Top photo) and Moruya Rivers (2016 Second photo) during their lantern festivals. While the Riverlights Lantern parade is no longer part of the Granite Town Festival (Moruya River), the next Lismore Lantern Parade is on 22 Jun 2019. See: https://www.lanternparade.com/.
This lovely book has instructions for a wide range of lanterns from simple and colourful paper bag lanterns, Chinese lanterns, carved squash, punched tins and frosted jars to tin foil garden flowers, weird icicles, flower fairy bells, stars on sticks and crescent moons, willow fish, Christmas lights and whimsical goblin night lights. It discusses materials and equipment; safety and illumination; and the basic techniques for creating and covering structures. I could make any one of these delightful, magical and highly creative lanterns!
In her book, the author refers to the deep emotional connection that we have to the lighting of yesteryear, which manifests itself in our yearning for simplicity, now that electric lighting has obviated the need for lanterns and candles. We still enjoy using both for special occasions like Christmas and Halloween or for romantic dinners, so it stands to reason that I would have two books on candles and candle making in my craft library!
The Book of Candles by Miranda Innes 1991
Both a theoretical and practical guide, this book begins with their history and a Catalogue of Candles and Candlesticks, discussing the different kinds of candles (dipped, church, beeswax, Christmas, decorated, scented, floating and garden) and candlesticks (metal, ceramic, glass, wood,chandeliers, candelabras and sconces) and accessories (dripcatchers, shade holders, candle shades, snuffers, wick trimmers, candle boxes, candle stickers and foam snuggers).
The second half of the book describes the art of making candles: the ingredients (types of wax, wicks, dyes, paints and crayons) and basic equipment (double boiler, hotplate, scales, wax thermometer, newspaper, aprons, stirring spoon or stick, moulds, tweezers and scissors); general tips (melting wax, using beeswax, priming the wick and general precautions); making dipped, moulded, scented, rolled and pressed flower candles and methods of decoration (painting techniques and using mixed media including fresh foliage, foil, tissue paper and carving).
I will definitely be trying to make dipped candles, scented and pressed flower candles in the future! A good general guide for beginners like me!
The New Candle Book by Gloria Nicol 1995
A similar type of book, it is larger and more comprehensive. Again, the first half of the book is devoted to chapters exploring their use in the home; different themes , seasons and special occasions like weddings, christenings, St Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Halloween and birthdays; and different types of candles. It gives you a good idea of the wide variety of uses and presentations, from Victorian pressed glass and embossed tumblers and old-fashioned china teacups to floral arrangements, shells and floating bowls. But be warned, I once had a monumental and memorable disaster when the floating candles were caught under the rim of the bowl, the flames heating the glass until it shattered spectacularly, deluging the dinner table with water!
The second half of the book looks at practical considerations: Materials and equipment; detailed instructions for making dipped, moulded, scented;, candy-twist, floating , sand and rolled candles; decorating techniques (carved, stencilled, sponged or embossed; painted or marbled; using foil, gold leaf and sequins); and candle holders (types and projects). I love the idea of using old sardine cans and bottles and would love to try making the Byzantine jam jars, the Foil Leaf Chandelier and the colourful tin foil pie dish flowerheads of the Garden Candleholders. There are also patterns for storage boxes and candle shades.
The Complete Book of Glass Beadmaking by Kimberley Adams 2005
When I think of crafts involving light, I automatically think of glass and this next book is the glass beadmaker’s bible! My daughter studied glass bead making as part of her Design and Technology course in Year 12 and made some beautiful jewellery pieces, many of which she sold at the local craft gallery. Below are photos of her final year project for D & T: Rainforest, River and Sea 2006 and my favourite necklace!This book covers everything you need to know about glass bead making:
Tools, supplies and materials required;
Setting up the studio, ventilation and lighting, ergonomics and the all-important safety equipment, clothing and precautions;
Basic techniques: prepping the mandrels, lighting and using the torch, heating the glass to the molten state, winding the first bead, varying the bead shape, finishing the ends, flame annealing and cooling, and removing the beads from the mandrel; and
Shaping the beads: barrels, rounded or oblong, cones and bicones, pressed, disc, grooved and patterned, stacking colours and surface decoration (frit, dots, making and using stringers, twists, trailing and averturine).Intermediate techniques include: Applying enamels; reduction frit; encasing beads; altering bead surfaces with mixed media (baking soda, mica powders and etching cream); shaping and sculpting (furrows, cutting hot glass, sculpting with a graphite paddle, pinching glass with tweezers and making large-hole beads); adding metals to beads (leaf and foils; silver stringers, shavings and fine wire; and copper tubing); and gravity beads, millefiori and dichroic glass. The beads in the photo below were made from recycled window pane glass and were Caro’s first experience with glass-making.The Advanced section includes notes on: Fuming; hollow beads; sculptural techniques for making winged hearts, spiral seashells and Aegean urns; and making decorative canes (millefiori or mosaic glass, latticino and murrini), including numbers and letters, eyes and portraits and flowers. More of Caro’s homemade glass bead jewellery…..Each section is supported by wonderful full-colour gallery pages showcasing all these techniques and types of glass beads and there is a trouble-shooting guide at the end of the book, as well as a pattern and instructions for making a ventilation hood.
It is an excellent guide for anyone who loves glass beads and colour and essential for serious glass bead makers!
Backyard Mosaics by Connie Sheerin 2002
If colour is your thing, then you are sure to love mosaics! My first experience with this craft form was with a friend when my children were young. We made mosaic stepping stones from circular concrete pavers and they have followed us to every garden, their installation being one of the very first gardening chores of the new property !
I loved fitting all the colours and random shaped pieces to create personal artworks. My next experience was a Mother’s Day workshop with Helen Millar of a Flock of Birds (http://www.flockofbirdsmosaics.org/), in which I made a Mother Bird and Baby Bird Plate. It was such a fun day and the time just flew! I was in another world!Helen holds one day classes at the Geelong West Community Centre, where I also attended a second workshop to make two Birds on a Stick.Making mosaics is very addictive and limited only by availability of materials! Because we have moved a bit, carting broken tiles and china and heavy bags of grout and cement is not really an option, but now we are settled, I may start to amass my materials again! I certainly plan to make a mosaic one day with all the broken bits of china, glass and ironware, which we have unearthed in our ex-turn of the century-blacksmith- garden!
Mosaics can be used to decorate all manner of things from tables, trays and trolleys to votive holders, picture and mirror frames, signs, boxes and birdhouses, fountains, balls, pots and planters and garden statues. They can be made from ceramic tiles, glass, china and pottery, shells and buttons and are used to a wide variety of surfaces from wood to ceramics, cement, metal, glass, mirror and plastic. All are described in this lovely book, along with :
Other basic materials: Grout; colorants, adhesives and sealers; pattern drawing supplies (transfer paper, graph paper, templates, rulers, pencils and markers); and protective gear (goggles and latex gloves);
Equipment: Tile cutters and nippers; mallets; spreaders; tweezers and brushes;
Basic techniques: Preparation of china, tiles and surfaces; adhering the tesserae to the surface; grouting the design; cleaning up the grout; and finishing the piece; as well as making glass sandwich tiles with pressed flowers.
The rest of the book is devoted to a wide variety of mosaic projects for the garden and outdoor living. I loved her White Daisy Table; Hearts and Flowers Gazing Ball; and her Mosaic Frog, Turtle and Mushroom Garden Statues.For more about the use of mosaic in gardens, see my post on Artists Gardens: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/11/favourite-private-specialty-gardens-part-1-artists-gardens/.
Handmade Tiles by Frank Giorgini 1994
This book is for those, who would prefer to make their own handmade tiles, rather than smash them up for mosaics!!! This lovely book teaches you how to design, make and decorate your own tiles for a very personal touch in your home!
The book starts with a detailed description of the handcrafted tradition in ceramic tiles from their use in Ancient Egyptian tombs and Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Spanish palaces to Italian maiolica; Dutch delftware; Medieval raised earthy tiles and inlaid tiles; Minton’s multi-colored encaustic inlaid floor tiles of the Industrial Revolution; the decorative art tiles of the Arts and Crafts movement in America (Mercer’s Moravian Pottery and Tileworks; Grueby Faience Company; Rookwood Pottery; Pewabic Pottery; Batchelder tiles; Claycraft Potteries; and California China Products Company; Calco; Malibu Tiles; Solon and Schemmel; and California Faience); and the revival of the handcrafted tradition from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Material, tools and equipment are discussed next, as well as in Chapter 14, including clay, kilns, pottery tools for sculpting, incising and scraping, cutting wires, templates, tile dippers, hangers, plaster-block mold forms, tile-waxing stands, slab cutters and tile presses.
The following chapters describe :
Making a flat tile: Making a slab, transferring the slab, calculating shrinkage, cutting tile shapes and drying tiles;
Making tile models for open-face press molds: Relief tiles, layering techniques and direct carving;
Making and using open-face press molds: Preparing the model and form, mixing and pouring the plaster, cleaning up and finishing the mold, and making clay plugs and pressing them into the mould;
Carved plaster blocks, tile presses and extruders, including making a carved plasterblock, pressing tiles by hand and using a tile press;
Surface decoration on unfired tiles: Stages of tile dryness, transferring designs, impressing, painting or spraying with underglazes, slips and engobes, slip trailing, inlaid tiles, sgraffiato, shellac resist, and screen printing on tiles;
Firing to hardness: Bisque firing and stages of firing;
Surface decoration on bisque tiles: Painting, dipping and spraying with glazes, wax resist for glaze separation, glaze scraping, stains and underglazes on bisques;
Glaze firing, overglazes and decals;
Mosaics: Materials and composition and mosaic design, assembly and installation;
Tile design: Applications (tables, counters, backsplashes, fireplace facades, murals, dry and wet walls and floors) and computer tile design;
Installation: Tools and adhesives; and installation on a table top; and finally and most importantly,
Health and safety: Studios, cleanliness, kiln safety, studio ventilation, protective gear, ergonomics and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
The appendices include temperature equivalents for cone-firing ranges; a flow chart of tile techniques; slip and glaze formulas and a schedule for cone 10 glaze reduction firing.A very comprehensive and detailed book, similar to the glass bead making book in its depth and scope. While I love the concept of making my own tiles, it is probably another lifetime for me, but I did enjoy looking at all the beautiful artistic tiles featured in the book. The next book is much more my skill level and I can definitely see myself making some of the projects!
Handmade Clay Crafts by Susan Alexander and Taffnie Bogart 2000
This delightful book has always been a favourite for its lovely presentation, excellent explanations and descriptions and its quirky creative projects using kiln-fired, oven-bake and air-dry clay. I loved them all, but especially the floral pins and stamped buttons; door knobs, tiles and mirror frames; chicken planters and bird and flower finials; and miniature shoe, skimmer and chicken ornaments.The possibilities are endless and further inspiration is provided in a gallery in the back, as well as a metric equivalency chart. This really is such a lovely book and highly recommended.The Complete Potter: Animal Forms and Figurines by Rosemary Wren 1990
Another lovely book for those who like to play with clay, much of its content and photographs equally applicable and inspirational for soft toy making. Chapters cover:
Sources and development of ideas: Museums and historical precedents in clay and other mediums, zoos and aviaries; drawing in sketchbooks and experimenting with variations;
Materials: Types and properties of clay;
Equipment and its uses: Workshop; clay preparation; the wheel, turntable, working table, workboards and decorating table; lighting, claybins, small tools, glaze making equipment, drying and firing, choosing kilns and ergonomics;
Working to a theme;
Hollow handbuilding: Sculptural form; movement and expression; and decoration; and
Earning your living.
There is also a gallery of inspiring artworks based on the human figure, animals and birds by twelve different artists, each describing their sources, techniques and artistic background. I particularly liked the work and style of Neil Ions and Anna Adams.Finally, four general books on traditional and ethnic crafts:
Traditional Country Crafts by Miranda Innes 1993
A lovely book featuring a variety of traditional country crafts, including:
Needlecraft: Homely Amish and Mennonite quilts; traditional samplers; rag rugs; and feltwork;
Kitchencraft: Baskets; floor cloths; chimney boards; and punched tin;
Woodcraft: Shaker and Amish woodwork; wooden toys; weathervanes; game boards; automata; and animal houses; and
Decorative Craft: Painted ceramics; lampshades; papier mâché; flotsam and jetsam; bookbinding; and painted furniture.Each of the 20 crafts featured includes a sample project as well. My son used this book to paint the wonderful chequered game board, which was designed by Sue Martin, in the photo below.
I am also very drawn to: Clare Beaton’s Flowered Felt Hat; Moira Hankinson’s Somerset Trug; Nicola Henshaw’s Pull-Along Fish (as well as her seagull and pelican!); Marion Elliot’s Papier Mâché Money-Box and Cressida Bell’s Fruity Shelves.
Classic Crafts: A Practical Compendium of Traditional Skills Edited by Martina Margetts 1989
Another lovely coffee table book with a similar project-based approach and featuring 35 country and traditional handcrafts and their talented exponents, divided into four categories:
Textile Crafts: Hand block printing; quilting, smocking, patchwork and appliqué; dyeing and knitting; tassels and braids, Ikat weaving and rag rugs;
Paper Crafts: Paper making; marbling; calligraphy, wood engraving, letterpress printing, book binding and papier mâché;
Kitchen Crafts: Goat’s cheese, festival bread and biscuit making, smoking fish, chocolate making, preserves, cider making, basketry, dried flowers and candle making; and
Decorative Crafts: Stick dressing, gilding, carved birds, toymaking, leatherwork, spongeware, stencilled tiles, stained glass and jewellery.
My one criticism of this book was the lack of attribution of the works and projects featured to their designers on the same page. There is a thank you to the artists, listed in alphabetical order, at the front of the book, but I would have liked to have had more specificity. Luckily, I was familiar with and could recognise the work of Janet Bolton, Sarah Burnett and Ann Hechle, all favourites, but it took me ages to find the spongeware and ceramic artists, whose work I adored (John Hinchcliffe and Wendy Barber) and I would also love to know the names of the artists featured in the sections on the sections on marbling; stick dressing and carved birds.Both books played an significant role in celebrating age-old traditions and the importance of handwork. It is great to see a revival in interest in these traditional skills, so they are perpetuated in future generations. The Lost Trades Fair in Kyneton, Victoria, showcases these traditional skills here in Australia. See http://losttrades.info/ and https://www.rundellandrundell.com.au/lost-trades-australia.
World Crafts by Jacqueline Herald 1992
My final book features pottery, basketry, carving, theatre and music crafts, painted and paper products, spinning and weaving, dyeing and printing, embroidery and appliqué, floor coverings and crafts using recycled materials from all over the world. It is a fascinating book with beautiful photographs, which tells us so much about traditional crafts, as well as the different cultures themselves. It is so important to document and preserve these skills, before traditional lifestyles and the old slow ways of doing things completely disappear. I particularly loved the chapters on theatre and music crafts, painted and paper products, dyeing and printing and embroidery and appliqué.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about this medley of miscellaneous craft books. Next month, I will be focusing on books about soft toy making and sewing for children.