Saturday, March 28, 2009

Encyclopedia of Crafts Review

Trust Martha Stewart to develop an encyclopedia of crafts. Not just a book on crafts, or a special issue magazine about crafts, but an encyclopedia, a 400-page tome on the best and most beautiful craft projects anyone could ever dream of doing. Paired with the projects are little histories of the craft in question, specific tips for each craft and detailed instructions on how to complete the project. It is as complete and wondrous as anyone could expect it to be.

Not since the days of Catherine Beecher and Mrs. Beeton have 'important' books on the domestic arts been written for the homemaker and crafter.

In her foreword, Martha recalls dreaming of being the first author since those days to "create a beautiful series of how-to books on a wide assortment of practical, useful and inspiring topics for the homemaker." She says that she envisioned lavishly illustrated, hardcover books on flower arranging, collecting, on every holiday, on gardening, on sewing, on embroidery and a vast number of beautiful crafts. She has already brought that vision to life by completing some of those books. What she focused on instead, however, was her monthly magazine and her daily television show, forms she says were much more appropriate for the new world of mass media and much better suited to accommodate her ever-growing interests in the domestic arts.

Still, the consistent release of this series of large, beautiful books is ongoing: Martha Stewart's Entertaining, Martha Stewart's Weddings, Martha Stewart's Gardening, the Homekeeping Handbook, Martha Stewart's Cooking School and now Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts.

I was tickled when I heard that the promotions department at Martha Stewart Living had sent me a review copy of the book in advance of its release. Paired with the book was a glitter set of 24 colours from the Martha Stewart Crafts collection - a nice surprise, indeed!

The book is a lovely addition to anyone's Martha Stewart book collection, and is certainly recommended for anyone with an interest in crafts. It is published with full-colour photography from previous issues of the magazine and is a fine collection of the best-loved craft projects that have been devised by the engenious craft team at MSLO over the years.

The contents are as follows: Albums, Scrapbooks and Memory books; Beading; Block Printing; Botanical Pressing; Botanical Printing; Calligraphy; Candlemaking; Clay; Decoupage; Etching Glass; Fabric Flowers; Gilding; Jewelry Making; Marbleizing; Matting and Framing; Mosaics; Nature Crafts; Origami and Paper Folding; Painting China and Glass; Paper Cutting and Punching; Paper Flowers and Birds; Photo Crafts; Pom-Pom Animals; Quilling; Rope Crafts; Rubber Stamping; Silkscreening; Soap Making; Tin Punching; Wirework; Wreaths. Each section begins with a thorough introduction about the particular craft and then delves into specific projects with a series of illustrative photographs and instructions.

At the back of the book there is also an extensive collection of useful and beautiful templates, printed on matte paper for easy photocopying. The book contains, too, a product buying guide, a list of all the tools and materials needed to create each project in the book, a section on basic craft techniques and a complete book index.

Perfectly organized, easy to use and inspiring to look at, the book is a must-have. It's released on Tuesday, so be sure to pick up a copy!

Here is the media pack that was sent to me: the book, a small postcard about the book, a Clarkson Potter newsletter about the book and a set of 24 glitter tubes from the Martha Stewart Crafts line at Michael's.

The inside of the covers are designed in this beautiful marbleized pattern of pink, green, white and yellow.
Photographs of Martha are few in this book. This photo accompanies her foreword.
The Contents: neatly organized on one page and easy to follow.

This book was designed by Amber Blakesley and has many of the clean, streamlined layout concepts found in recently released Martha Stewart publications, such as the Homekeeping Handbook and Cooking School.

At the back of the book there is an extensive section on materials, with brief descriptions of each.
The templates section was a lovely surprise: it contains all of the templates necessary to complete many of the projects in the book, from paper crafts to tin punching, scrapbooking to stamping.
Full-page, colour photographs, like this one of rubber-stamp projects, abound in the book, keeping the reader inspired.

The back cover contains a photograph of Martha's craft room at Bedford. The room appears several times throughout the book.

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