Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Trip to the Libary : The Big Ass Book of Crafts

Click on image to view at Book Depository. (This is just a normal link!)
I received The Big-Ass Book of Crafts for Christmas from the Lovely Boy, and I've just finished 'reading' it. The author Mark Montano is apparently a TV personality in the U.S., presenting shows on interior decorating. Most of the projects in this book reflect this angle. I do like his style - quirky and colourful with Mexican influences. There's not much beige to be seen in this book!

The projects are arranged into chapters by either type of item (e.g. tableware, paper goods) or material used (e.g. felt). Some are made from scratch. Many take finished items such as a table or a photo frame, and jazz them up. Others take a household item and turn it into something else - wine glasses into candle-holders, for example. With this kind of craft, there is the potential for hits and misses. The mirror-encrusted table top is beautifully elegant, but the drinking straw lampshade looks like something I would have made in primary school. Which is fine if you're crafting with small children, really! The huge range of projects mean there is something for everyone.

There really are a huge number of projects in this book! In some cases I wonder if quantity was chosen over quality. Most of the instructions are written only - there is a photo of the finished product but nothing else. For the simpler projects, this is fine. Take A and glue to B. Easy! For the more complicated projects with many steps, it could be an issue. I'm less likely to start a project if I feel I have to nut out how to do it as I go along.

There are advantages to having such a huge choice of projects, though. There are some that I can't do because I don't have power tools. On the other hand, there are plenty that I can do because I have a sewing machine and an Op Shop just down the road. Don't like the tray-table project? That's okay, there are 4 in different styles that you might like. I noticed that some disparate items are made using the same technique, for example a basket and a photo frame both made from ice cream sticks. Some may call this repetitive, but I think it's a good idea as it encourages the crafter to think of new ways of applying known techniques.

Unfortunately The Big-Ass Book of Crafts suffers from a couple of annoyances. The crafter is advised to search for colour pictures online or order from certain websites to obtain some of the supplies. What if you don't have a computer with a colour printer? What if the online shop doesn't deliver to where you are? What if you're not able to drop into your local 'Staples'? (I've never even heard of Staples, I'm guessing it's like Officeworks? If so, I wouldn't poke 'em with a ten-foot pole!)

There's also an issue with the glue-non-specificity that I've complained about before. I can probably figure out a substitute for 'Elmer's Wood Glue' and 'E6000', but what the heck is 'Goop'? Or 'Krylon'? Where would I find a substitute for these in Australia? There's some consolation in knowing there is a list of suppliers' websites in the back. I'll just have to do a bit of research and hunt around in my local hardware shop.

The overall style of the book is contemporary with a dash of Mexican folk, and written in a chatty yet not over-the-top style which I like. Considering that I'm about to be handed the clean slate that moving house provides, I can see myself referring to it frequently in the near future.

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