Thursday, April 25, 2013

April's Artful Reader's Club entry

Darcy's Artful Reader's Club is once again posting their entries.  As many of you know, through the 22 days leading up to Earth day, I focused on projects that showed how to rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle, re-invent, recover, restore, or repurpose something in order to save it from the trash.  So this book was the perfect addition for April's ARC.



  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxmoor House; 2 edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157486078X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574860788
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 8.1 x 0.6 inches
This is what the book looked like at Amazon, and this

is what it looks like under the harsh lighting above my kitchen table.  Once again, this is a very, very old book, but at least it is hard cover, so it is sturdy.

As you can see,

there are lots of projects, one for nearly every page in the book.  Also, there are only four chapters,

with each opening with a preview of the projects you will find in that chapter.

One of the few things I liked about this book was it showed the recycled materials you would need for each project.  Some of the projects were actually rather timeless, while others screamed "trashy," rather than treasure.


One old project the authors used was the flattened, then painted, aluminum can.  This wreath included bubble wrap, fabric scraps, the painted cans, a bow, and a wire clothes hanger.

I can (and did during the month) think of several better ways to use plastic, although I suspect if I had small children I might feel a bit different.

There were quite a few projects that took on a country flair, and I honestly lost interest in country decorating in the 80s.

Next came the chapter on gifts.

Not the kind of gifts I would make,

even though I thought the sewed items were timeless.

With the advent of the internet and YouTube (which I can now once again access), you don't need a book to show you how to revamp a chair.

And even the nature crafts, like this twig-framed mirror, looked outdated, at least to me.

Although I would NEVER be able to make this necktie pillow, because I couldn't sew a straight line if my life depended on it, I liked the concept.

The final chapter had several projects for children

and a rehash of items we saw in previous chapters, but presented in another way.

These bride and groom covered bottles reminded me of an even nicer bottle cover my friend Halle (check out her cool blog) sent me several years ago.  I much prefer Halle's bottle cover!

There were patterns in the back of the book,


but I got confused at how some of the patterns overlapped.

Also in the back were a few instructions, like how to make a bow, and how to embroider.


And finally, the back cover of the book sums up what I suspect the authors felt were the best of the best.

So what did I think of the book?  Although I read every word, I got nothing out of it.  There really wasn't much inspiration because these projects were simply not my style.  Those of you who know me, know I don't do "cute."  And the majority of the projects were on what I thought was the "cute" side of the spectrum.  For that reason, as well as the book's age, and the fact many of these projects looked trashy to me, I DO NOT recommend it.  Save your money!!

What, you ask, will be my inspiration piece.  Something trashy that can be turned into a treasure, of course.

I began with a genuine piece of trash,


an old circuit breaker strip that was now dead.  I knew I needed to take it apart, and got out my itsy-bitsy screwdrivers.

If nothing else, this was going to be fun just taking it apart in order to see how it originally went together.


Next it was time to remove the final pieces

and throw away anything I didn't feel I could use.  I fell in love with that blue capacitor, and hope to use it as the inspiration in something very soon.  But for now, I will concentrate on just the plastic piece and disassemble the rest.

Next I did an internet search looking for totem poles because I thought the circuit breaker strip looked like a totem pole.  Have I mentioned I have an active imagination?


In the basement studio, I assembled the supplies I would use (from left):
Disposable glove
Various leftover bits of polymer clay
Piece of circuit breaker strip
Sheet of white paper used to keep the clay off my self-healing mat

 I began with a piece of copper polymer clay.  I spent a long time rolling it out,

 then chose turquoise, hoping it would go well with the copper.  You can see some of the copper color that came off the clay onto the white paper.  I was glad I took that extra precaution.  By the way, those one-size-fits-all-gloves are way too big for my hands.


I was able to use all the copper, mostly on the ears, but also on three of the noses, but I had a great deal of the turquoise left over.

After the  polymer clay baked (yes, I baked the strip along with the clay), I wanted to make sure the clay was adhered to the strip.  Thankfully, I took this picture before I took it upstairs, because


as I was moving the totem after adhering the strip to the circle of wood, I dropped the assemblage and the ears broke.  BROKE!!!  No way to fix them properly without buying more copper clay!!  Besides, it was too late to redo the piece, especially since the strip was already attached to the wooden circle, a piece I found in my scrap wood pile.

So I did the best I could and tried to glue the ears back in place. What I got was a deformed totem pole.

This was not exactly how I planned for this piece to look, but sometimes things don't turn out the way they should.


Here is another view.  I'm really sick about dropping the piece, but I have to chock it up to hurrying through the final part of this process.

It only took me three months, but I finally realized I am supposed to tell which book I will be reviewing for May.  So I have chosen Collage Playground: A Fresh Approach to Creating Mixed-Media Art by Kimberly Santiago


I hope you didn't forget to leave a comment on last month's ARC to be entered to win the book "Layered, Tattered, and Stitched" by Ruth Rae.  Using a Random number generator, here is the winner:



And the winner is Halle who wrote "Nice review...very in depth. Thanks for the chance and the second book. :)"  Halle, I have your address, so expect your book soon!




25 thoughtful remarks:

abby j said...

Not my style either, but a really creative piece of art came out of it...Great!!

Halle said...

I think I had the book you reviewed today. I donated it to Goodwill long ago. So excited about winning the "Layered, Tattered, and Stitched" book. :) Thanks!!!

Shirley said...

Like you I have had quite a few of my craft books for a long time and now feel the need to see if they are wasting valuable shelf space. Your book does seem very dated for today's Internet savvy crafter and your review is a timely reminder to me to sort through those old books. It was a shame that you didn't enjoy your book but hopefully next months will be much more fun to read.
Your poor totem pole does seem to have been through the wars but looks like it was fun to make.

Sarah said...

No offence to the author, but I am half tempted to make those "stockings out of old socks" for my children next Christmas purely for a joke, just to see their faces :D

And I'm sorry your totem pole had an accident, but I think he still has real character :)

Dawn said...

No it's not for me this book but that's one of the reasons I love the challenge, as you get to see some really honest reviews. I love the idea of having a totem poll lol sorry it broke Dxx

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I think some of the techniques in these old books can be used with updated projects, but I agree that this book is long past its prime!

Oh, your poor totem pole! Still a very unique way to recycle a power strip!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Janet said...

Such a shame this book was so outdated and not relevant for today.
Maybe you could recycle it in a woodburning stove. Your totem pole is indeed inspired!

Janet xx

Gina said...

Oh how sad that you broke your totempole!...such a brilliantly imaginative use of something that would have been thrown away. I still have my "thrifty Decorator" book from the 80's, and I think all those projects were in it already lol. You could always re-use the book as an art journal, would be a shame to waste that sturdy cover :D XXX

Virginia said...

Nope definitely not for me, like you said the invention of things such as You Tube kind of makes this particular book out dated. I don't do twee either!

Fab art work

Yvonne said...

I th ink people today are getting better at making Art out of trash. I have seen beautiful art/trash exhibits in museums. It really takes a creative mind to do this.

Leialoha said...

Such an interesting way to build a totem pole...especially love the way the light flows through the 'eye holes'. I agree with Gina...I would alter this book for an art journal. No 80's country craft look for me too! Loving your earth month projects...so inspiring...aloha.

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

Inventive as always. I like your take on re-use as opposed to the 80's style which is kind of passe to me to. xox

DocAngi said...

Loved the picture style commentary on the book your reviewed. The title of the book is alluring but yea, the projects appear uninspiring or ordinary. Thank you for a great project....loved how you took the power strip apart and made something with it!

~*~Patty S said...

Elizabeth I think you could easily write your own Trash to Treasure book!

BIG Congrats to lucky Halle...couldn't have gone to a nicer person!

Hope you are still celebrating your birthday this weekend!

Enjoy * Enjoy!
oxo

Dianne said...

great review...interesting how our tastes change, and I think, become a bit more sophisticated in crafting! I would never have thought of recycling that power strip! too bad about dropping it...I would be trying to figure out how to paint faces on it, but not sure what would stick to the plastic... this has been a terrific month of recycling!!

sandee said...

Maybe you should alter the book somehow, that would make great use of it and with your imagination, I am sure you would figure out what to do with it! Sorry about the ears on your totem pole :( waving hi from the hills of North Carolina ♥

NatashaMay said...

That's freaking awesome! :) Looks like a great inspirational book.

San @ Made in Hem said...

To read an outdated book and come up with a totem-pole... Makes me wonder if you had the circuit braker in your hand when it went dead, not being mean here! I want to compliment you on how your brain works... I love ideas that seem crazy!!! ♥
I'm sorry the book was a disappoinment, it might be a good idea to alter it... Who would want such a book donated, right? ;)

Magaly Guerrero said...

I love devouring old how-to books. I particularly enjoy the terminology. Your totem pole made me giggle. I thought of many eyes, many noses and funky ears.

What do you mean we are supposed to say what book we are reading next? Oops!

Jez said...

As you say, very outdated, and what I think of as a very 'American' book. I enjoyed your 'easy reading' style of layout for your review, with lots of pictures. I find it a little hard to read (physically) very dense long paragraphs, interesting as they may be. So your review was entertaining and 'took no prisoners' - really useful.
Your totem pole was a real right-brain idea. When the light shines through the eyes it looks a little scary, just as some totem poles do. A different and interesting piece of artwork - I think you are inspiring to to think outside of the box in future. I wonder if I could get any more blue-skies thinking phrases in here!

Darcy said...

ohh your totem pole did make me smile, shame about the ears.

I see these kind of books in charity shops all the time, and i feel bad they are there. i want to give them a good home but I just know there wouldn't be anything in them that I would make. though it is always a fab trip down memory lane looking through them.

Jen said...

Looks like the book gets the thumbs down, some of those type of Make It books date very quickly. Recycling it by altering it sounds like a good idea. Your Totem pole is an inspired idea, such a shame it got damaged, adds to its uniqueness though.
Jen x

SusieJ said...

Thanks for the honest review...not the book for me at all...what I would call "twee" and I don't do twee!
However I'll be really interested in your next review...I love collages!
Great totem pole.....
Hugs xx

Julie Ann Lee said...

Hi! I'm new to all this, but your review really made me think. We have so taken for granted all the internet has to offer in the way of craft and art blogs, videos and Youtube that we forget how quickly craft projects can date. I realize I just don't read craft books anymore, although I do treasure a couple of Kaffe Fasset ones and a lovely Cressida Bell decorative painting book - neither twee just art. Love your project that developed out of this.

Maz said...

That book looks very dated - thank goodness for the internet, there is so much inspiration on there! Shame about your totem pole - typical, great idea though. x