What gets your blood pumping? For me, it's anything to do with color as I described in yesterday's review. And if color has to do with arts and crafts, so much the better for me. A fabric store feels like a candy shop to me, even though I don't sew. Bins of buttons, rows of embroidery floss make me feel like Willy Wonka. Same with bolts of cloth, skeins of yarn, thread and other rainbow-hued notions.
If fabric stores or sewing or quilting excite you, too, then you’ll be gushing over Material Obsession: Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke (2009, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 208 pp. $27.50. Note, there is also a second book). I can barely sew a lick and have never quilted but the vibrant colors are what drew me to the book. Quilters, I am sure, will appreciate the handiwork even more than I could, as well as the included patterns and templates.
My favorite quilt in the book, called The ‘Burbs, inspired me with its rough-cut, crooked, child-like houses and paper dolls, a deceptively-simple looking riot of color that just might make me give quilting a try. As the book says, “the thing to remember about the quilt is…let yourself go! This quilt is a recipe, not a pattern…There are no rules here-just cut, sew and enjoy.”
If that’s not enough to suck you in, then the names of the quilts will get you, too: Annie’s Garden, Three-Ring Circus, Cowboy Baby, Gypsy Squares. These aren’t your grandma’s quilts, but the ages-old process is the same. Projects range from easy to intermediate and advanced, with basic quilting instructions included for the beginner. And if, like me, you are a beginner who may never actually begin, you can enjoy the coffee-table-book quality of the photographs of the quilts and fabrics in this soft cover volume. Textile-great Kaffe Fassett, whom I first discovered in my yarn-stash phase, lends his thoughts to the forward.
For those who get their color kicks from paper, the very fun All Wrapped Up! Groovy Gift Wrap of the 1960s by Kevin Akers will have you oohing and ahhhing at all the paper possibilities and cringing over all the vintage gift wrap you wadded up and tossed decades ago, if you were tearing open gifts as a kid in the 60s, like me. This Chronicle Books compendium (255pp., $22.95) was published in 2005, but it my color quest; I just discovered it in a museum gift shop. I was drawn to the full-page and many double-page spreads of gift wrap from my childhood; I was sure I recognized a few. It is a vintage-lovers’ delight, from the psychedelic swirls and paisleys to the child-like, cartoon-ish people and oh-so-60s fonts and colors.
I originally thought I might (shhh! Don’t tell!) cut out some of the full pages for use in my paper-crafting and altered arts (not creating plagiarism of course, but for personal enjoyment), but then, like so many other books in my library, I realized it was too beautiful to redact for my own use. If you appreciate graphic arts, the Mod era or even if you got a ribbon in gift-wrapping in 4H as a youth, you’ll enjoy this thorough compendium and color explosion. More than half the pages are full-color reprints of vintage wrapping paper.
Whatever your color vehicle of choice, from flowers to yarn, embroidery floss, beads, paint or fabric, there’s inspiration wherever you go. While beading might not be your thing, looking at the color wheel through a beader’s eye or studying hues in skeins of embroidery floss can lead to a brand new combination or idea for a project in your own area of expertise. Sometimes, I think my area of expertise is buying beautiful books!
Here are a few more of my recent favorites. The titles will denote their area of focus, but don’t limit yourself to only things you already know how to do. Remember, it’s all about the colors! Sew Sunny Homestyle, Tonne Finnegar, 2009, David and Charles, 158pp., $24.99
Fabric Art Collage, Rebekah Meier, 2009, C & T Design, 96pp., $26.95
Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty, Helen Dardik, 2009, Walter Foster Publishing, 96pp., $12.95 Embroidered Effects, Jenny Hart, 2009, Sublime Stitching LLC, 158 pp., $24.95 (Note: this book is spiral-bound and includes many pages of hot-iron transfers and a pocket for storage). I can’t wait to make something from all of them, but even if I don’t get to it soon, I’ve already enjoyed pouring over the pictures many times over. You will too.