I think the Pandemic might be almost over, but I am a different person. Now, I want a fall back plan in case we have to get trapped at home again.
The three books presented below are really varied in their interests, and they all work on a key component: they want you to build up your confidence and skill so you can go and make stuff.
I know that most of us want to get home from work and just watch a streaming platform; but the beauty of these DIY activities is that you can make them whilst watching TV, sometimes doing them is so fun that we want to focus more on them and end up turning the thing off, that just has to be good, right?
Here they are:
How to Embroider Almost Every Animal. A Sourcebook of 400+ Motifs and Beginner Stitch Tutorials by Applemints
Applemints is a Japanese publisher based in Tokyo that is very well known for its crafts books. With the raise of the social platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest, we have wondered about these Japanese beauties for a while now. (Don’t you watch embroidery tips on TikTok? That is what the platform is for!)
Perhaps you haven’t given a try to embroidery because it was: boring, tedious, long, difficult? That is my personal feeling about cross-stitch and the long embroidery classes we had to do in school (ancient practices). However, ever since I stumbled upon Cassie Stephen’s Fiber Art book my perception has changed, radically.
Miniature embroidery, small designs that can be finished within a week, and then put on a brooch or a little piece of clothing: these are my jam.
The book offers a trove of easy to follow designs related to animals, in a variety of settings: the animal kingdom in all its glory, from every habitat imaginable.
My kid and nephew have marked out all the designs they want for their caps and pins, including a variety of cats, of course.
The 400 + motifs also include animal scenes such as pastures, forests, barnyards, jungles, and more—plus some mythical, extinct, and unusual animals as well.
Both the patterns and guides are very simple to follow. And If you want an even easier start, I would recommend Penguin and Fish, her YouTube tutorials and images are amazing.
How to Embroider Almost Every Animal is on sale since March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publish Date March 2nd, 2021
Format: Trade Paperback 120 Pages
Up next, a papier mâché craft book.
Papier Mâché. A step-by-step guide to creating more than a dozen adorable projects! by Sarah Hand
Sara Hand has a great Domestika course about this technique, and an additional upcoming book on the subject. I found her recipes simple and interesting, and was surprised to know that papier mâché does not involve, in fact, PVC glue (I’ve been doing it wrong all of my life), but a simple concoction of water and flour or cornstarch.
This sculpting technique involves materials you may already have at home (hoarder as art teachers are, we do treasure cereal boxes, egg cartons, cardboard and the like), and it translates as mashed paper. What you do is start an armature with different easy-to-find materials, and then cover them in a mixture of torn paper and paste.
The process is surprisingly quick and it will dry easily in front of a fan in humid environments. It is an absorbing thing to do and is guaranteed to keep children quiet and focused for a while, just ensure that your working surface is prepared to handle the mess (some newspaper will do the trick).
Once your sculpture is made, you can gesso it and then paint it. Patience lays in the waiting, but the results are very satisfying.
The projects run from easy and small to giant and amazing. I thing that the giant ice cones and the planters where my favorite, the idea for me is to focus on easy to do objects and then use them around the house once they are made: hangers, planters, bracelets, etc.. They all are not merely ornamental but fit inside the home and give it a colorful touch.
Papier Mâché is on sale since March 2nd, 2021
Walter Foster Publishing
Publish Date March 2nd, 2021
Format: Trade Paperback 128 Pages
Finally, this upcoming book talks about another medium that is quietly making a comeback: gouache.
Creative Gouache. A Step-by-Step Guide to Exploring Opaque Watercolor – Build Your Skills with Layering, Blending, Mixed Media, and More! by Ruth Wilshaw
We have talked about gouache before. Also known as poster paint, it is a great blend between watercolor and oil paint. It can be reconstituted as oil paint does, just by adding a bit of water, and can achieve both translucent and opaque results, like an opaque watercolor (as the title says).
I have found it is the best paint for me. I am not comfortable with acrylic, because it dries way too fast, some brands are too expensive, and cheaper brands have a tendency to clog pipes. If I must use acrylic, I just use Crayola Acrylic Paint, which is the absolute best for bright and fast results.
Watercolor, on the other hand, can be intimidating. It is so subtle; you are afraid you can perfectly mess it up. I try to follow Terry Runyan’s advice and flow with it, but it is most definitely out of my comfort zone.
Gouache is comfortable, versatile and affordable. And Ruth is an excellent teacher. It walks you through the basics of the techniques and the ups her game and offers a variety of activities that seem surprising, like her 3D butterflies and dimensional paintings, but that will enable you to grow as a creative.
You should also check out her Instagram and Youtube content. Her videos have been viewed more than 10 million times!
Creative Gouache is on sale since February 8, 2022.
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publish Date: February 8, 2022