Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Arts and Crafts

I'm doing some research for my sister who, tired of being stuck on base (Ft. Irwin) with friends who don't want to go the Mexico, is thinking of starting some art project of some kind. Everyone should have their own personal librarian. Tonight's reading: Sculpting Basics: Everything you need to know to create fantastic three-dimensional art, by Karin Hessenberg. This book included tons of pictures with step-by-step instructions. It covered make sculptures from clay without using a pottery wheel, as well as wire, plaster, molds, and carving things out of wood, plaster, and cinder blocks. However, it seemed that the reader should already know quite a bit about his or her art and be rather proficient. I wouldn't want the projects in this book to be my first. The Encyclopedia of Pottery Techniques: a comprehensive visual guide to traditional and contemporary techniques, by Peter Cosentino. If I were going to take up pottery, I would certainly want this book: it does an excellent job of explaining and showing examples of different tools, styles and techniques. There are step-by-step instructions with accompanying pictures in the first half of the book, but it assumes you know how to throw, operate the wheel, and other basics it doesn't bother to explain. It's for beginners, but doesn't actually get you started. While a variety of pieces are pictures in the first half of the book, the last half is an overview of the history of pottery. Many of the pieces are odd, but most are quite beautiful. The name of the piece, the creator, and a little blurb is given, much like you would see on the little plaque on the museum wall. These are interspersed with pages talking about broader aspects of the technique or style. New Crafts: Decorative Glasswork, by Michael Ball; photography by Peter Williams. All of the projects in this book seemed pretty simple: the step-by-step with pictures instructions weren't usually more than 5 steps. There is a specific list of materials and equipment, with definitions or explanations, and templates for every project. Most of the works actually start with store-bought glass items (jars, glasses, mirrors, windows) and the artist simply adds paint, foil edging, or baubles. There are a few pieces that require specially cut glass, and instructions for doing so, although it recommends having the glass specially cut by a professional. These projects are good, but not ones I would choose myself. Debra, they are the kind of things I would expect from Mom. Stained Glass in an Afternoon, by Vicki Payne. All of these projects, complete with pictures, numbered instructions, and templates, require you to cut your own colored glass. They actually seem pretty simple and come in a range of end results, from window hangings and clocks to boxes and bird feeders. Many of them are functional. If I were going to start a stained glass project, I'd start with this book. Quick & Easy Gourd Crafts, by Mickey Baskett. I was intrigued by this one, and thought my sister might like it, since she's down there in the desert. It is very thorough, explaining types of gourds, how to clean them, tools needed, as well as step-by-step instructions with pictures and templates. Many of the projects are not what I would pick; they are very Martha Stewart-ish. You paint it and you end up with something that doesn't look like a gourd anymore (an apple bird house, for example, that looks nothing like a gourd at all). There were a number of projects toward the back that used the gourd's shape and color, making vases, pitchers, bowls, and luminaries. They used cut outs and basic colors to accent the art. I preferred these. While this is perhaps my favorite crafty choice, it also the only one that requires power tools, as hard gourds are very... hard.

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