I think the pandemic is almost over, but I’m a different person. Now I want a fallback plan in case we get stuck at home again.
The three books presented below are very different in their interests, and they all work on one important part: they want you to build your confidence and skills so that you can start making things.
I know most of us want to come home from work and just watch a streaming platform; but the great thing about these DIY activities is that you can make them while watching TV, sometimes it’s so much fun that we want to focus more on it and eventually turn the thing off, that just has to be good, right?
There they are:
How to embroider almost any animal. A resource book with over 400 motifs and tutorials for beginner stitches by Applemints
Applemints is a Japanese publishing house based in Tokyo that is well known for its handicraft books. With the rise of social platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest, we have been doubting these Japanese beauties for a while. (Don’t you watch any embroidery tips on TikTok? That’s what the platform is for!)
Maybe you’ve never tried embroidery because it was: boring, tedious, long, difficult? That’s my personal feeling about cross-stitching and the long embroidery lessons we had to do in school (old practices). But since I came across Cassie Stephen’s Fiber Art book, my perception has changed radically.
Miniature embroidery, small embroideries that are ready within a week and then a brooch or piece of clothing on top: this is my jam.
The book offers many 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 cousin have drawn up 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 meadows, forests, farmyards, jungles and more, plus some mythical, extinct and unusual animals.
Both the patterns and the guides are very easy to follow. And if you want an even easier start I recommend Penguin and Fish, her YouTube tutorials and images are great.
How to embroider almost any animal is for sale since March 2, 2021
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication date March 2, 2021
Format: Trade Paperback 120 pages
Then a paper mache craft book.
Paper mache. A step-by-step guide to making over a dozen adorable projects! by Sarah Hand
Sara Hand has a great Domestica course on this technique and an additional book on the subject coming soon. I found her recipes simple and interesting, and was surprised to learn that papier-mâché doesn’t actually contain PVC glue (I’ve been doing it wrong all my life), but a simple mixture of water and flour or cornstarch.
This sculpting technique involves materials you may already have at home (hoarder as being art teachers, we make treasure chests out of grains, egg cartons, cardboard, and the like), and it translates as crushed paper. What you do is start a fixture with several easy-to-find materials and then cover it with a mixture of torn paper and paste.
The process is surprisingly quick and it dries easily in front of a fan in humid environments. It’s captivating to do and is guaranteed to keep kids still and focused for a while. Just make sure your work surface is prepared to handle the clutter (a newspaper will do the trick).
Once your sculpture is made, you can create it and then paint it. Patience lies in waiting, but the results are very satisfying.
The projects range from simple and small to gigantic and awesome. I think the giant icicles and the planters are my favorite, the idea for me is to focus on easy-to-do objects and then use them around the house once made: pendants, planters, bracelets, etc. They are all not only decorative, but fit in the house and give it a colorful touch.
paper mache is for sale since March 2, 2021
Walter Foster Publishing
Publication date March 2, 2021
Format: Trade Paperback 128 pages
Finally, this upcoming book is 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’ve talked about gouache before. Also known as poster paint, it’s a great mix between watercolor and oil paint. It can be reconstituted as oil paints do, just by adding a little water, and can achieve both translucent and opaque results, like an opaque watercolor (as the title says).
I have found that this is the best paint for me. I’m not comfortable with acrylic as it dries way too fast, some brands are too expensive and cheaper brands tend to clog pipes. If I have to use acrylic, I just use Crayola acrylic paint, which is the absolute best for clear and quick results.
Watercolor, on the other hand, can be intimidating. It’s so subtle; you’re afraid you can screw it up perfectly. I’m trying to take Terry Runyan’s advice and go with it, but it’s 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 may seem surprising, such as her 3D butterflies and dimensional paintings, but will allow you to grow as a creative.
Also check out her Instagram and YouTube content. Her videos have been viewed over 10 million times!
Creative Gouache is on sale since February 8, 2022.
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication date: February 8, 2022