Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two New Books! Perfect Summer Reading For Creative Minds

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This is a cross-post from my arts blog ...
Two new titles from Lark Crafts are sure to please - and will be welcomed additions to your summer reading list. By now, some of you have realized that I seldom review books that don't garner 4 or 5 starts from me. I simply won't waste precious time reading books that don't please me .. so my star rating are genuine - it's just the reason that you never see reviews from that are not worthy of my time and attention!  I'm exceedingly grateful to be able to review some titles from Lark - and, even though these titles are provided to me, if I review them  it means that I would buy them for myself. 
So here we go: 
  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts (June 5, 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1454701996
Collage is definitely not my strong suit - generally I struggle with it and use it sparingly in my work. That being said, with my keen interest in all things transparent, I have found a renewed interest in collage and this book arrived at the right time! The book is beautifully written and, most important, the instructions are clearly written and illustrated.
The book covers the basics, of course: supports, adhesives, cutting tools, paints, how and where to gather images, on-line resources, storage and organization (did I use that word really?!). Next up are some basics about designs and composition and a chapter called "Layering 101" which is excellent!
The next section, which I love is called "50 Creative Exercises" and these exercises are are on using certain elements in your collage - like whites, typography, image pairings, dreams - you get the idea. These exercises are not specifically instructional, although each presents a paragraph to get your thought train moving,  but rather the idea is illustrated with examples. Trust me - the images are worth more than more words would be in the context of the exercises!

An image library is provided to get your creative juices flowing and a succinct Resource Guide is included for products, paints, glues, software, imagery and books. Well thought out. This one is a keeper for certain - and I actually think I will find renewed interest in using more collage in my mixed media work because of it !
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  •  112 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts; Pap/Cdr edition (June 5, 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600597954
I have to admit that my crewel working days have long been over, but when I saw this book a quilt design popped into my head - and it won't go away! I have 'a thing' for circles and these are all circle designs !! Beautiful, whimsical, perfect circles. The books begins with a chapter entitles "New Crewel Basics" which I think is a perfect refresher for those who have done some crewel work before or for beginners who know nothing of the joy of gliding wool threads through linen or twill fabrics. Linen types, threads, needle choices, hoops, design tracing, knotting and supplies are covered in this chapter. Most importantly this chapter includes detailed diagrams of all of the stitches that you will use in making the designs contained in the gallery of designs that follow.

Next up is my favorite part of this truly wonderful book - the "New Crewel Design Gallery". Each design includes a border strip that has the necessary information for making the design; fabric, thread, stitches used, how to finish and any applicable notes for the pattern are included here.

A gallery of projects for the designs follows - pillows, skirts, bags, etc. Now - here's the thing - this book also contains a CD of all the motifs in the book. Can you say perfect?! Yes, I'm really happy with this fab book of inspired circular designs !


Monday, June 4, 2012

"The Queen's Vow" by C.W. Gortner

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  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 12, 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345523969

To be upfront I should mention that I'm a fan of C.W.Gortner's work. Each of his books has been a memorable read for me - books that I am sorry to have end because I just want to keep reading!

As soon as I had "The Queen's Vow" in my hands I knew I was going to like it - and like it I did! I had been waiting for this book to be written! There hasn't been much written about Queen Isabella; we hear about Isabella & Ferdinand and we hear about their funding explorations to the New World but we don't often hear about Isabella the person, the woman and the Queen as a "stand alone" character. This book explores the person who was the Queen to perfection. From her happy familial beginnings, to her determination to marry the prince she loved at all costs, to her strength and military prowess as Queen - C.W. Gortner brings it all into focus.

The book also lends insight into the upbringing of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first, beloved, Queen. Catherine seems to have inherited her mother's strength and tenacity - and strict adherence to her faith. Isabella taught her children well and this book also provides an excellent view on some of the regional politics of the day - the politics that also affected Isabella's daughters who became Queens in their own right.

Crisp, exacting details allow the reader to feel as though they are walking alongside this indefatigable woman whose determination and strength of will made her one of the world's most famous Queen's. Yes! I highly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down!