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reviews: lark crafts gift guide

reviews:  lark crafts gift guide

I’ve really enjoyed the very popular Pretty Little Series by Lark Crafts and now there is 100 Pretty Little Projects. This book has many designers contributing and includes the best of best of the eight book series. There are four chapters: Enjoy, Use, Give and Hold and all of the projects have instructions and patterns.

It was so much fun to look at all the adorable ideas, like the Soft Spheres made of different fabrics, and the pattern can even be scaled up or down to make them tiny or really big. The tiny Sweater Pincushions are delightful and I liked the Eco Chic Tote that helps prevent waste. I know that my daughter would love the embroidered felt case that holds a media player! If you want a book filled with charming ideas to make, I would definitely recommend 100 Pretty Little Projects.

The author of Cake Ladies, Jodi Rhoden, is actually a cake lady herself and she decided to write a book to honor the tradition of the beloved cake ladies, who are common in the South. Although discount store bakeries and boxed mixes resulted in a lessening of the cake lady popularity, luckily they are again regaining their well-deserved notoriety. And given that love is focal point of desire to bake for others, this resurgence in popularity is a wonderful thing.

Cake Ladies starts with an explanation of the anatomy of a cake wtih the ingredients used and why they are used. There is a feature on each cake lady telling about her background and why she makes cakes, plus their expert tips. And, of course, there are delicious recipes, like Vanilla Almond Pound Cake, Caramel Cake and Hummingbird Cake, and the classic Southern Ten-Layer Chocolate Cake, all beautifully presented along with pictures of the ladies working in their own kitchens. Reading about these lovely women, I was struck with the importance of preserving these types of things, and I appreciate what a wonderful job of that the author did in Cake Ladies.

From Felt to Fabric is written by Catherine O’Leary, a talented artist from Australia. I was new to this technique of nuno felting which is basically accomplished by felting wool fiber through woven cloth. From Felt to Fabric tells how to make wool and nuno prefelts which can then be used alone or with other fabrics. The author uses this technique to make creative and unique clothing, art, and accessories and the resultant pieces are made largely of organic shapes and textures. She also takes artistic principles like light, shade, color and more to weave together unique pieces of nuno felting into something unique and special.

The “push” in PUSH Paper is referring to pushing limits, which is what the artists who are featured in the book do so well. The curator of the book started a blog to document the creative ideas that artists express by using paper as their medium. There were realistic forms, complex dioramas and elaborate sculptures, all made from paper. The lucious looking pies and chocolates and even pink candy hearts all looked good enough to eat and I was also struck with the intensely colorful paper sculptures with a Mayan look. In another design, snowballs come right out of the paper and roll towards a house that has also risen out of the white paper. In addition to showcasing their artwork, PUSH Paper also has interviews with the artists that give fascinating insights into their personalities and their creative endeavors.

PUSH Stitchery is full of amazing things the artists have made with a needle and thread. They practice their artistry on quilts, pillows and more, whether it is a cityscape, Abraham Lincoln on evil nanny. Some of the images are of a single subject, while others have entire scenes and some of the designs are made using a needle and thread, while others use applique or other techniques. There are also interesting interviews with each artist. PUSH Stitchery gives us a chance to experience the story the artist wanted to tell, with needlework as the medium.

The Lark Studio Series books are like your very own portable art gallery, and each one has over a hundred images in it, which are taken from Lark’s popular 500 series. Each little book focuses on one subject: Handmade Dolls, Ceramic Sculptures, Tables, Earrings, Handmade Books, Chairs, Pendants, or Art Tiles. Perfect for stocking stuffers!