Thursday, January 24, 2013

My January ARC review

Darcy's ARC, or Artful Readers Club, starts tomorrow with a book, a book review, and an art object made to go with this book.  I realize I'm a few hours early, since Darcy lives in Great Britain, but for those of you who follow or are a frequent reader of my blog, you know I can't access my blog from my computer.  Those of you who are first time visitors, I apologize because of this snafu, I hope to correct soon, after I speak to the people at Blogger.  I want to thank Darcy, because, as soon as this post goes live, I'm going to send the link to Darcy in hopes she will add the link at the appropriate time to the linky list. 

Before we begin the review, I wanted to add the final book to my list.

I will review this book in either February or March.  I'm not familiar with the Regan Reilly Series, so this should be a good introduction, and a great diversion from my mostly art related books.

Now let's look at the book I'll be reviewing for January's ARC. This is an old, old book, loaned to me by a neighbor whose daughter is a Stampin Up demonstrator.  While perusing her bookcase, most of what I saw were Stampin Up catalogs, so this book was the most promising candidate.

If you found this book on Amazon, it would look like this.

Here are the specifics of the book:
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082300791X
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.7 x 0.5 inches 

This is what the book looks like on my worktable.  Didn't I mention this book was OLD?  Consequently, stamping has evolved quite a bit over the last 14 years since this book was written.  I had seen Grace Taormina on The Carol Duvall Show several years ago, and she always was stamping something or other.  I doubt anyone, especially any of my British friends would even know who she is.  It seems her days of being a queen of stamping have come to their conclusion, to be replaced by hip, chic, stamping artists like Tim Holtz and others.

There was an extensive Table of Contents.  In fact, this book surprised me.  When I first opened it, I thought there would be a lot more photos than there were.  Instead, as I first glanced through the book, I saw a lot of words.  Many, many words, and not a lot of pictures.

Taormina spends a lot of time introducing us to stamping tools, including making our own stamps.  I confess I've made potato stamps before, then graduated to pink erasers.  Now that I know what to look for, I may graduate to better erasers.
She showed us how to use found objects and how to make our own stamps using such items as rope and beans glued to wooden blocks.  I'm sure many stampers have done that, but I had never seen beans on a wooden block before.  Of course, that WAS the 90s (grin).

More tools, such as ink pads were then displayed.
I was especially interested when Taormina started talking about stamping on fabric.  For that, I got very excited, but it was nothing I hadn't already seen.  Just different stamps.

One of the things I get upset about (and have noted in other book reviews) is the fact that some artists choose to lump a bunch of disparate items together and discuss them without bothering to label them.  And the identification on the left of the photo didn't even show the various tools in order, so if I hadn't known what most everything was, I would have been lost.

The inks, pencils, and pens were even worse.  I had no idea what some of the pieces were, even after I read a description or reason why they were needed or used.  Most were things I'd never seen.  Well, I've seen and own a brayer, and own a couple of sea sponges, but that's really mostly the extent of my working knowledge of the items shown on this page.  I was embarrassed to admit, I truly needed a chart of some kind to tell what was what.

The blurb to the left of the photo read:
An assortment of tools and supplies for adding color and texture to surfaces and for applying and manipulating inks and paints (page 28).
For being such a wordy book, the examples left a lot to be desired.
In the Introduction, Taormina wrote:
"Color and Design" take the mystery out of two inherently intimidating subjects, giving readers the tools they need to make informed and thoughtful decisions while still allowing them to acknowledge their own instincts and preferences (page 9).
When I got to the chapter on color, I eagerly read it.  Unfortunately, it didn't add anything I didn't already know.  Although I confess that color is the one thing I feel most comfortable about in any part of a design project, I was hoping for a bit of insight I didn't already have.  Sadly it was a rehash of what I taught in my altered book class (see my right sidebar for the lessons).

The author went into a lot of detail on masking, but only showed one example.  She also spent time explaining in detail the difference between repeated and linear designs.  She even showed diagrams of grids, blocks, bricks, and scallops, but never showed or even suggested how to accomplish this feat.  In that respect, I was highly disappointed.

Although Taormina discussed stamping surfaces such as metal, wood, leather, pottery, glass,and polymer clay, she offered few, if any, examples.  On the other hand, she spent time showing two projects she designed. 

These were well documented and showed what you needed to know to complete her project.  Of course, when I saw this frame mat, I knew I had just seen my inspiration piece!!

I began by making a total of 24 sewn front and back scrappy journal pages made of paper products, and divided between two signatures, which, when folded, turned into 96 pages.  When those were finished, I began with a piece of my oatmeal hand dyed fabric (see these posts here, here, and here for how I dyed the fabric) and used a foam stamp to add the large Fleur de lis and a punch turned mask for the small ones.

I used a makeup sponge to apply paint to both the stamp and over the mask.  The large circles which were originally destined for the trash surrounded the central images.  I used a broken plastic dish to lay out my three paints.

I then outlined the middle of the book using copper thread.

After printing the words using my computer, I then took everything to my basement studio where

I turned the paper over and colored the words using Crayola Fabric Crayons.   Since the words were so dark on the paper, I didn't need a light box, which I don't own.  If you use this product, found at Michael's in the US, and want to make words, you must reverse the letters in order for the words to show properly on the page.  Unfortunately, I am not sure this product was even available when Taormina wrote her book!!

I first positioned the words over the area I had sectioned off for the spine, then to make sure the printer ink didn't "bleed" onto my iron, I covered the page by folding the paper over the written words.  Remember, the crayon words are against the front (or right side) of the fabric.

It was at that time I chose to read the instructions found on the back of the crayon box for ironing the crayon onto the fabric.  After I had read the instructions, I saw I was supposed to use polyester fabric with this project.  I don't wear polyester, and I don't use it in my art projects, so I was afraid this project was doomed.

Not the best image transfer, but surprisingly readable, considering this was 100% cotton.  I also had a lot of crayon color left on the transfer,

and I have never been one to waste anything!!  So I cut some upholstery fabric that was a bit stretchy (and might have contained polyester), and used it to make the inside cover stand out a bit.  The iron is on the right and cast the shadow you see on the piece.

I then got bold and colored directly onto the fabric using my Fleur de lis mask.

Since I still had a bit of color left on my crayon transfer, I used it once again to add the words on the second pocket.

Back upstairs, I sewed the pockets to the inside cover, then sandwiched heavy pellon in between the front and inside covers.

Here is the finished piece with the signatures sewn into the scrappy journal.

I am very proud of this project, even though I didn't learn a lot from Taormina's book.

You can see the pages I used to make this scrappy journal, and 

the outside when it was finished.  This took nearly two weeks to finish, but I'm quite pleased that I used my Fleur de lis stamp, used my punch as a mask, used my fabric crayons for the first time, and sewed this book together.

Thanks for stopping to see my January ARC review and art project.  I can't really recommend Taormina's book, because it is definitely dated.  I suspect if you have never stamped anything in your life, and want to update your home decor, it might (emphasis on might) be useful.  But I believe there are far better books out there that are more recent and geared more to mixed media art similar to what I make. 

Thanks again go to Darcy, because if she hadn't gotten me off my behind, I never would have even considered making this scrappy journal, or read this book!  Also thanks go to Darcy for hopefully taking time to add my review to this month's linky list.  Now lets see what other ARC members have read and created.

43 thoughtful remarks:

Karen said...

Wow Elizabeth, this journal looks lovely after all your hard work. x

Virginia said...

Wow well to say you're claiming the book was dated you've managed to make a fantastic journal! I love it!

elle said...

Elizabeth! This is a fantastic art journal. The fleur de lis is a wonderful repeating element. Glad to see you haven't been just sitting around sipping tea! LOL

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Wonderful review Elizabeth. Fab scrappy journal, gorgeous cover :-) I've never read any Carol Higgins Clark but her mother Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favourite authors.
Anne x

~*~Patty S said...

WOW great detailed review E!
at least the book was good for kick starting your project ... it turned out beautifully (you make it look easy!)

Dawn said...

Awe Elizabeth what a beautiful journal my lovely. I love your fabric cover, what a lot of work! I'm sure you will have a lot of fun filling it too.
Huge hugs x x x x

voodoo vixen said...

Great review E! and what a lovely journal you created... so you may not have actually learned a heap from the book, but it did jump start your creativity, love those fleur de lis on the covers.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

The journal came out lovely! Sounds like a good, very basic book for a complete newbie.

Lynn Cohen said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your wonderful stamped book cover! How beautifully done it is!

And your book reviews are fun too.
Perhaps you would like to do a review of my newly self published book "One Fish Taco and Half an Order of Guacamole A Year of Drawing at Tacos Jalsico"? You can read all about it on my blog! Feel free to copy the book cover if you like and a link to my blog too if you want to do this. ;-) Big hugs if you do. Still freinds if you don't. LOL ;-)))

Darcy said...

wow looks amazing Elizabeth, such a great review too. Very thorough with all the photo aswell. I have just put the new linky up and will now go and add your name and link.

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Great book, Elizabeth, you may not have learned much from the stamping book but you did get some really valuable inspiration! Did you machine stitch the signatures into the book? It was fun to read how you made the cover. Thanks for sharing.

cindyw said...

I love your journal. Fantastic. Great book review....gave us lots of info about the book. I enjoyed the review.

Dianne said...

Outstanding journal E! Love everything about it, from the dyed & stamped cover, to the fun stitched pages!

Gina said...

Awesome journal cover!!! I bought many crafty books back in the 80's and 90's and they pretty much sucked the fun out of crafting lol :D XXX

Jenny said...

Wow Elizabeth... I love your scrappy journal... it is interesting to read back on older craft books... sometimes there is something of value there... great review and photos...

Jenny ♥

NatashaMay said...

That looks absolutely fantastic! Great choice for the first book review. :)

sandra de said...

Good to get an honest review on the book. I like what you have created and lovely to see the steps involved.

Clare with paint in her hair said...

Fab review, I think I will pass on this book too. Love your book its gorgeous!

Sarah said...

I have that book - from years and years ago - and I'd say that your review is right on the money. There have been many better books written since. But it was of its time....

I LOVE your journal, the FDL is one of my favourite symbols, I use it a lot. Your book looks so tactile, I want to hold it :)

Jez said...

I love the unusual way you have done the review and artwork combined. A good idea to show some of the book contents. And as for the cover of your journal and the process you showed, they are really great.
Following Dandelion and Daisy's question, did you machine stitch the signatures? I would never have thought of this. I learn something from every review.

San @ Made in Hem said...

Wow, I'm surprised you were able to make such a beautiful journal after reading such a disappointing Art book! Love your Art! ♥

see you there! said...

The best thing about the book is the journal you made after reading and reviewing it. Love the journal, will skip the book.


Gina Shillitani said...

I love the journal you made! I have just started experimenting with binding books with fabric covers (well canvas) so this is very interesting to me. The book I think I'll pass on :) Thanks for your thorough review and great job on the journal!

P.J. said...


I've done a bit of stamping with letterboxing, but never to the level you are showing. The Fleur de lis you have is awesome! What work!

I always wonder with books that get beyond 10 years old -- at least instructional type books. Things change so rapidly. A fair and honest review. And that artwork and project -- awesome!

Carmen said...

Oh I so agree about books with a photo of a bunch of 'stuff' and no labels. Chances are if you knew what everything as, you wouldn't be needing the book. Grr.

Excellent, honest review and I absolutely love that journal. It looks very touchy feely.

Michelle V. said...

Thanks for the informative review and pointing out what worked and didn't for you as an artist. Your journal is beautiful. Michelle V.

Shirley said...

Your fabric journal cover is really beautiful Elizebeth, it is good to see such a gorgeous project take shape after reading a book that really did not inspire you very much. One positive fact is that your were able to borrow it to give us all such a great review. Thank you.

lorig said...

That journal looks fab. I wish I was brave enough to try making one. Thank you for the honest review of the book. I have some craft books on my shelf that could use a similar review.

Dee said...

Wow! What a great start to your artwork. Thanks also for providing the review it was really helpful.

Halle said...

Seems as if you got a bit of inspiration from the book. Wonderful scrappy journal. I've yet to do one myself even though I really want to. Keeps getting put on the back burner.

Leialoha said...

Love your fabric journal...especially the fleur de lis stamped design...FABulous

Diane said...

Thanks for sharing your great review. I've never considered the idea of art books becoming dated but now that I read your review, it has made me realize that one of my favorite things about art is playing with all the "latest and greatest" art materials. Your wonderful journal does prove that inspiration can be found anywhere by the person who is looking.

Janet said...

I appreciate the lengths you have gone to with regard to the review. Your artwork is fabulous and well worth the time and effort you have put into it.

Janet xx

Jen said...

Fabulous artwork for your journal. Even if you don't rate the book it clearly inspired you, good review.
Jen x

Marlynn said...

Hey, girlfriend, you will like the Carol book - I loved that series. I'm into the Murder Club by Patterson - just started reading # 11 - yes, I have been with him since the beginning of this series and still love it. Wanted to stop by to say hello. Loved your Christmas card and it is standing up next to Harley who dribbled on it. Hugs to you!

Ali said...

I love the journal you made and the review was very well thought through!

Magaly Guerrero said...

This is precious! I would love to feel the texture. And read/see all the awesome inside bits ;-)

Caterina Giglio said...

wonderful E, my personal logo is the fleur, giglio means lily and I love you new handmade book, and the book got you going at least... x

Maz said...

Well, it looks like you managed to get something out of the book despite how dated it is. Your artwork is great, you've put a lot of work into it, looking forward to seeing what you come up with next month.

Alison xx said...

I love the book cover you made after reading your crafty book. I agree that most craft books are not the best written books avaialble. Especially if you are a beginner to a subject (I know you are not, it's just something I have noticed over the years).
As a SU demo, I would suggest you have a look at the catalogues as they are also idea books and your friend's daughter can let you know what supplies have been used to make the projects. A xx

Manon said...

Oh wow that Journal is just gorgeous. I need one of them please. The book sounds a bit of a waste of time, what a shame but I enjoyed your honest review.

Catie Cuddles said...

The book indeed sounds like a complete waste of time... Especially to someone who can create such fantastic things as the journal. Love it!
Catherine x

laurie said...

i love the book you made and imagine you will have a lot of fun working in it. it is funny how quickly things become dated these days, isn't it?! i appreciated all the photos you used in this post to show us each step of your process.