Friday 2 November 2012

Book Review: State of Craft

Time for the first review of Book Month: State of Craft, edited by Victoria Woodcock.

This compact little book contains over 60 projects from designer/makers and bloggers, a selection of interviews with crafty business owners (like the ladies behind Tatty Devine), and quite a detailed how to section at the start of the book with step by step diagrams and tips on how to do the crafts in the book (knitting, crochet, cross stitch etc).

All the projects have a photo or two of the finished project, step by step instructions and a box with a little blurb about the designer, with links to their websites and shops. Most of the projects have either step by step illustrations or a helpful diagram or two - some are very simple and involve just a couple of steps, and others are more detailed, time-consuming projects with a few pages of instructions.

There are just a few templates, and I'd assumed they were all actual size as they didn't include instructions for how much they needed enlarging but for the project I checked (a bear) it turns out you need to enlarge the template so it is "about 40 cm high" which is a little annoying as not only do you need to enlarge the template, you need to do some maths to work out what percentage it needs enlarging by! This isn't especially hard, but it's just unnecessary and I don't think I've ever seen a craft book before where you needed to enlarge something but it didn't actually tell you by how much.

The editor uses a lot of phrases like "handmade manifesto" and "at the vanguard of the new-craft (or is that neo-craft?) movement" and writes with a very consciously chatty, modern style (e.g. "So, yeah, cool.") which (depending on your taste in these things) will either make it a really fun and enjoyable book to read or really  annoying.

Similarly, while a lot of the projects just have a modern/current feel to them and could be found in many recent craft books (button rings, a giant cushion, a fabric necklace, bunting, a fabric-covered lampshade, etc) some of them are a bit bonkers - like the furry ears for adding to your cycling helmet, and a "Christmas pudding cape" (shaped like the icing on said pudding) - and involve a lot of quirky materials like using ping pong balls to make hair bobbles and using water pistols to customise some fairy lights.

Depending on your tastes, some of these quirkier projects will either make you think "ugh, that's just bonkers, why would I want to make that??" (in which case: this may not be the book for you) or "wow, how brilliantly bonkers and awesome is that??" (in which case: buy this book, buy it now, you're going to love it!).

I definitely wouldn't make everything in the book, but some of my favourite designs include...

This sweet bunting necklace:

Pretty paper fruit:

A space invaders cross stitch tote bag:

A cute bear:

This pun-tastic needlebook:

And this clouds & mountains mobile:

There's also a lamp made with a jam jar that almost (almost!) makes me want to take up woodworking.

The book also doubles up as a mini directory of cool modern makers and bloggers, as you can follow the links to buy the designers' work / read their blogs / etc.

If you want a change from more girly, "stylish", "vintage chic"-style craft books and fancy some fun & creative projects, and the chance to try out some new crafts this might well be the book for you!

State of Craft is published by Cicada Books. RRP £14.95. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: Cicada Books sent me a free review copy of this book, and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]


homemade@myplace said...

I've seen this book in some bookstores here in JK, too!
Honestly, I didn't like it just because I think it's quite boring and obsolete.
Thank you for sharing your review,
xxx Alessandra

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for your comment, Alessandra! It's always so good to hear what other folks who've seen or bought the books think of them :)