Sunday, September 16, 2007

What Could Be Better Than Handcrafted Books? Linda's Review of Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

When I first saw Creating Handmade Books I immediately thought about books for my grandchildren. After all, I'm a HUGE proponent of reading. If you're familiar with my blogs you know that I always buy books for the grandchildren for Christmas. To me there is nothing better than reading and improving one's mind.

So, when I saw "Creating Handmade Books" I was intrigued. According to the back page "take one piece of paper...a pair of scissors...and you have the tools to make a book! Now how much fun would that be to create a book. And, talk about family heirlooms. I decided that I definitely had to find the time to make some of these.

In the preface Lisa gives us a little insight into her background and experience in the field of book arts. I found her journey fascinating and especially loved her sentence, "In 1997 Michael and I had a son, Ezra. He currently eats books."

The introduction outlines basic tools, sizes, and terms that you need to know. After that Alisa provides step-by-step instructions and illustrations for making cut & folded books, simple sewn structures, simple adhesive structures, intermediate compound structures, multiple signatures or thick sewn books, Jacob's ladders, soft and hard covers, portfolios and boxes, easy ways of decorating paper, and portable books.

The cut and folded books section shows you how to make a hidden book, simple accordion, simple accordion with tunnel, twist card, house card, palm leaf book, venetian blind book, simple pop-up card, fan book, and slot & tab book.

In simple sewn structures we learn a few basics and then are shown how to make a ledger hanging book, utilize stick binding, make a side-bound book, utilize single signature binding, make a two-sewn-as-one book, and make a tea bag book.

With simple adhesive structures we learn about making a flower fold, album-flutterbook, concertina with tabs, endless accordion, tunnel book, accordion-fold book, circle accordion, hand scroll, and hanging scroll.

Intermediate compound structures introduces an accordion with signatures, pocket book, flag book, and piano hinge with skewers.

Multiple signatures or Thick Sewn Books shows you knots for multiple signatures, western multiple signatures, multiple signature onto a ribbon, exposed stitch, and chain stitch.

The Jacob's ladder section introduces two panel with (or without) cards, and a six-panel book with boards and ribbon.

Soft and hard covers introduces information on working with glue, soft wrap cover, open spine soft cover, open spine with ribbon, wrapped hard cover, hard covers, insetting a title, and backing cloth. Projects include covering separate boards, split boards, hard cover:side-bound, hard cover: single signature, hard cover:multiple signature, hard cover: with ribbon, hard cover: accordion/signature combination of hinged cover, and hard cover: ribbons at spine.

Portfolios and boxes shows you how to make a folded envelope, pocket folder, paper portfolio, painted slipcase, covered slipcase, hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie, hardcover portfolio with envelope pocket, postcard portfolio, two-piece box, and clamshell or presentation box.

Easy ways of decorating paper introduces you to stenciling, carving rubber stamps, and painting with acrylics.

All throughout her book Alisa takes you on a journey of her life and her creations. She also provides you with tips and how-to's she's learned based upon her experience. Her book is a filled to the brim with everything you need to know to create a handmade book.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making one of these elegant and romantic creations.

I haven't quite decided which book I'll choose for my grandchildren. Knowing me I'll probably choose several. Since I have no experience with book arts I think I'd better start at the beginning of Alisa's book and make my way to the back. By the time I finish following Alisa's step-by-step instructions I should have some wonderful heirlooms for my grandchildren.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

How About Some Fabric Covered Journals? Linda's Review of Fabric Art Journals by Pam Sussman

Several years ago I decided to make fabric covered journals for my twin granddaughters. They were in junior high school at the time and I wanted something a little different as one of their presents for Christmas that year. So, I decided to create the journals.

Foolishly I didn't take a picture of them, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed making them. They were nothing like the journals I'm about to tell you about. Mine were crudely covered three ring binders, but they were pretty all the same.

When I saw the book Fabric Art Journals: Making, Sewing, and Embellishing Journals from Cloth and Fibers (Quarry Book)  by Pam Sussman during bookstore shopping trip with my Mother it reminded me of the crude journals I had made so I decided to flip through it.

There is a quote from Pam Sussman on the back cover that says, "Fabric books simply beg to be touched and experienced through the hands as well as the eyes." I couldn't agree more.

I might add that sometimes the fabric journals become works of art all unto themselves and beg you to just look at them. Like other works of art - to touch them you might just ruin them.

Since I am a lover of anything made with fabric whether it is a bowl, a box, a quilted landscape, ATC's (artist trading cards), floral fashions, dolls, baskets, altered art, etc. I knew that I would like this book.

Pam's book covers the basics of creating fabric art journals and then embellishing them. It includes 8 projects - 3 for beginners, 3 for intermediate journal makers, and 2 with advance binding techniques. Templates for the 8 projects are found in the very back of the book.

In the section on the basics of fabric art journals you'll find information on fabric journal tools, fabric journals versus paper journals, hand sewing versus machine sewing, accurate measuring and cutting, pressing, choosing fabrics and thread, inner support, basic sewing stitches, and basic edge finishes. Basically, everything you need to know to try creating fabric art journals.

In the embellishments section you learn about tea-dyeing fabrics, painting fabrics, adding words to cloth pages, image transfers, applique, art quilting, easy embroidery, eyelets and other hardware, button, fancy edges, fancy closures, beads, and trims. Each page is filled with pictures and/or illustrations as well as how-to's or step-by-step instructions.

In the fabric book projects section Pam shows you with step-by-step illustrations how to make a muslin journal, concertina journal, button-bound book, tape bound journal, fabric-stitch journal, house box journal, coptic-bound journal, and dream journal.

Flipping through these sections I found myself thinking that I could make that or wouldn't that be a wonderful gift for so and so. I wanted to try all of them. Then again, if you know me, you know my desire to try everything and anything crafty is much larger than the constraints of time. I need to clone ME.

In the back of the book there is a Gallery chapter filled with pictures of fabric art journals created by other artists. They are all unbelievable and you really need to see them for yourself. The pictures are beautiful, but I'm sure they don't do some of these fabric art journals justice. They truly are works of art.

During this shopping trip after a while my Mother appeared and asked me what was taking me so long. I showed her the book I was looking at. She was intrigued and wanted to see some of the projects, too. We both loved them all and agreed that we should at least try making one or two, okay maybe three of them. The problem is how to choose. We love them all.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making a fabric art journal. I'm sure if you gave it to someone as a gift that it would become a family heirloom.

Of course, if I could clone myself I'd make all of the fabric art journals in this book and many, many more. They are just so unique and so pretty. Pretty little works of art.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Linda's Review of Origami Flowers by Hiromi Hayashi

Last time I was out shopping with my Mother at one of our local bookstores one book in particular caught my eye and I just had to buy it. It was called "Origami Flowers: Popular Blossoms and Creative Bouquets."

What drew me to this book was that it involved paper florals. Paper crafts and floral crafts. Not quilling, but still involving shaping paper to form floral bouquets. It couldn't get any better than that as far as I was concerned. Then again, I love everything. So, of course, I showed the book to my Mother. She was intrigued so we started to browse through it.

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that not only do I love dolls, doll making, crafts, and craft making, but I am also a floral designer. I love creating silk floral arrangements, pinecone baskets, dried floral arrangements, floral trees, just about anything floral. So, of course, paper floral bouquets piqued my curiosity. I suspect my Mother wasn't surprised by this.

"Qrigami Flowers" shows you how to take square origami paper and shape, bend, fold, and twist it into beautiful flowers. I was doubly thrilled when I looked down the list of flowers in the table of contents. My all time favorite natural flower was there - a dahlia. My sister and I have had a fascination with dahlia's since we were both little and love to grow them in our gardens.

In any event, 29 different types of flowers are shown including my second all time favorite flower - the Japanese Iris. Hiromi has included a rose, hyacinth, stock, tulip, carnation, violet, pansy, narcissus, dokudami, cineraria, polyanthus Primrose, gerbera, zinnia, Japanese iris, hollyhock, hydrangea, blue star, morning glory, begonia, sunflower, dahlia, clematis, lily, orchid, spray mum, cornflower, cosmos, balloon flower, and cyclamen.

The beginning of the book includes large colorful pictures of each floral creation. That is followed by definitions of origami symbols and shapes. Following this are the step-by-step instructions for creating each of the flowers. On paper it doesn't quite look as difficult as I'm sure it is. The instructions are very detailed and look like they'd be easy to follow. Hiromi also includes the paper supplies needed for each flower and any other materials that are required. Actual size leaf patterns are also included in the back of the book.

Besides the dahlia and Japanese iris I would like to try my hand at the violet, cineraria, zinnia, gerbera, sunflower, clematis, cornflower, and balloon flower. I just love the looks of each of them. Maybe I could get so good at creating paper floral creations that no one will be able to tell my paper floral creations from my real plants.

When I mentioned this to my Mother she just said, "Sure, honey." Translation - you can try it, but there is no way paper is ever going to look as good as the real thing. My Mother, of course, unlike me was born with a green thumb. She's had some of her plants for over 50 years.

So I said, "They might not be the real thing, but they sure would be colorful creations. And, best of all they are maintenance free. No watering, no fertilizing, no bug-spray. What could be better than that. Year round, maintenance free plants. I love it."

She said, "Just buy the book honey and let's go!" So I did.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Obsession With Paper? Or Quilling?

I suspect that I am not unlike a lot of crafter's out there. I love and want to try everything. The problem is there are not enough hours in the day to try everything I want to try. I literally could spend 24 hours every day and always be learning some new craft. Not practical I know, but one can dream.

Several years ago I made a Christmas present for my niece that involved quilling from a kit that I had bought. I had never heard of quilling and was intrigued by this kit and wanted to give it a try.

If you don't know what quilling is it is cutting, rolling and twisting paper to form decorative pieces. My particular present was a miniature garden picture (see photo above) where I cut and quilled the paper to look like various plants. I enclosed it in an 8x10 shadowbox to give it a three dimensional appearance. She loved it which certainly made me happy. Even my brother loved it - which is an accomplishment all unto itself.

In any event I became interested in paper and paper crafts from that point onward. This was just before paper, scrapbooking, and altered art became such a phenomenal success. When the latter happened I, of course, was thrilled as I loved seeing the hundreds of paper projects and availability of supplies that they were creating for the masses. I, of course, wanted to try everything, which I know would be impossible.

So, I decided to try another quilling project. This one involved quilling the paper to look like various types of herbs. It came out alright and I decided to enclose this one in an 8x10" frame with a solid blue mat.

From time to time when I'm out book shopping or browsing through the local craft stores I look to see if there are any books or kits on quilling. Most of the time there aren't any. Quilling still hasn't quite caught on here. I don't know why because paper crafts have become such a phenomenal success. I can't quite understand why quilling hasn't.

Who can resist learning how to decorate everything from jewelry to home accessories with quilling designs? Certainly not me.

I've got my eye on three quilling books for my wishlist. If I get them I'll be sure to write a review of them for you.

Maybe I've piqued your curiosity as to what quilling is. Maybe you'll give it a try. If you do please be sure to let us know how you liked it. I hope you find it as intriguing as I did.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Linda's Review of Creating Romantic Purses by Marilyn Green & Carole Cree

Creating Romantic Purses: Patterns & Instructions for Unique Handbags was a perfect choice for the 3rd book to be reviewed for books about handbags, purses, and totes as nothing could be more Victorian looking than romantic purses.

What drew me to this book, once again, was the picture of the two purses on the front cover. They are both romantic and Victorian looking in nature. And readers of my Linda's Blog know how I love anything and everything Victorian.

"Creating Romantic Purses" contains patterns and instructions for making 40 elegant creations that according to the book, "can be worn night and day." And, elegant they all are.

I was intrigued so I began to browse through this book. I didn't need to go any further than the first purse to know that I was going to love this book.

The first purse is in Chapter two which is entitled " Hold History In Your Hand" and is a crazy quilt purse from the Victorian era. History and the Victorian era - I was enthralled. This is definitely a purse that I want to make. It is a Victorian Vignette and is an exquisitely beautiful creation. And, of course, there is all the history surrounding it and Queen Victoria.

Each purse within the book contains information on the materials needed to make the purse, embellishments, patterns and instructions. The patterns and instructions are shown in detail in the back of the book as some of the same patterns and instructions are used to make several different purses in this book.

Flipping through this book I found purse after purse after purse that were just so beautiful to look at. Each and every one of them was a beautiful creation all unto it's own. Almost like masterpieces. I wanted them all. However, one can't make 40 different purses now can they? And, where would I store all of them? Knowing me I'd make them just to look at them.

In any event, I do have my favorites and they would be the "Victorian Vignette" on page 12, the "Timeless Classic" on page 22, "Polka Dance" on page 42, "Fringe Benefits" on page 44, "Tussy Mussy" on page 58, "Beaded Beauty" on page 60, and "Vintage Nosegay" on page 76.

Seven purses that I would love to make. That's not to say that I don't want to make all of them. I do. It's just you need to start somewhere and here is where I would start.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making one of these elegant and romantic creations.

Of course, if I had my way I'd make all of these purses and all of the purses from the other two books I recently reviewed. Hundreds of purses. I can hear "hubby" now. "Where are you going to put all of those and where are you going that you would need them?" Ah, but one can dream. And, what's better than dreaming or inspiring to make such beautiful creations?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Linda's Review of Making Vintage Bags by Emma Brennan

Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses is a wonderful choice for the 2ND book to be reviewed in my handbags, purses, and totes craft book review.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was that it concerned vintage bags from the 1920's through the 1950's. According to Emma Brennan's foreword, "A handbag can make a statement as well as being a practical means of carrying your essential possessions around. This book gives you patterns and ideas for making your own special bag, influenced by vintage styles but perfect for modern living."

I couldn't agree more. Whenever I leave the house I am lost without my handbag. It is an essential part of me outside my home and when I am without it something just seems to be missing. The handbag I use all the time weighs a ton with all the stuff I have in it and my Mother is forever telling me to lighten the load. She thinks it's putting a dent in my shoulder and will cause me back problems down the road. Well, after 40 years of carrying around a bag I think I'm used to the weight. Besides whenever I go through my bag nothing is thrown out. Everything seems to be essential - or at least I think it's essential.

So, I always promise myself that I'm going to reduce some of the clutter so I can change bags more often and, maybe, carry some smaller bags. The bags of the 1920's to 1950's were definitely smaller and I would, indeed, need to reduce some of my essentials in order to utilize some of them.

They may have been smaller, but they were adorable and Emma's "Making Vintage Bags" is a wonderful pictorial for making 5 bags each from the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.

The beginning of the book is an introduction to the materials and techniques needed to make her bags. She starts with general information on basic stitches, fabrics to use, base materials, piece preparation, interfacing, handles, fasteners, magnetic snaps, lining, zip fasteners, making matching purses, embellishments, applique, and photo print bags.

The rest of the book is divided into 4 time periods starting with the 1920's with each era covering 5 bags to make. The 1920's has Clara - two tone art deco pocket bag, Lucille - mini evening bag with ribbon rose, Virginia - mini clutch with tassel and ribbon rose, Dorothy - asymmetric bow flap clutch bag, and Evelyn - asymmetric clutch with vintage buttons.

Each purse section contains step-by-step pictorials of constructing the purses, as well as materials needed, dimensions, suggested fabrics for the bag and the lining, and sewing tips. The actual pattern pieces for each bag are in the back of the book and need to be enlarged by 165% to use. I would have preferred for the pattern pieces to be actual size.

The 1930's has Doris - the handle bag with rose corsage, Nancy - ring handle bag with felt flower applique and matching purse, Lois - bag with draped buckle trim, Rita - pleat bag with silk rose trim, and Marion - semi-circle two-tone bag.

The 1940's has Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog, Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse, Grace - wool leaf applique bag, Patricia - autumn bow crescent bag, and Rose - nautical rose crescent bag.

The 1950's has Audrey - gathered bag with felt corsage, Vivien - small bowbelle bag, Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag, Peggy - striped bow bag with straight handle, and Gloria - picture bag with rope handle.

I just loved the fact that Emma named all her bags and I do have a few favorites that I would love to try. I love the adorable looking Doris - tie handle bag with rose corsage form the 1930's. She is just so "pretty" to look at.

I also love Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog from the 1940's. The reason for this one is a sentimental one. You see when I was a little girl I used to love to stand and look through all the clothes in my Mother's closet. Back then she had a genuine "poodle skirt" that I just loved. Of course, I was too small to wear it, but I wanted one when I was big enough to do so. This bag reminds me of those times.

I also happen to love Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse from the 1940's. The reason for this is I tend to favor anything tapestry. In fact, I used to have a tapestry blazer that I wore everywhere until it fell apart.

Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag is another one of my favorites. I'd love to make it just to look at it as I'm not sure it would be big enough to carry a lot of my "essentials." But, it sure is a cute looking bag.

Last, but not least, there's my favorite bag from this book. Her name is Gloria and she is a picture bag with a rope handle. The reason she is my favorite is because the bag is big enough to carry most of my "essentials" and because it contains a cut-out picture of a vintage shoe. And, I love shoes. Plus, I love the simple yet elegant designs of this bag.

If you love vintage bags and purses and would love to try your hand at making some then this book has a lot to offer you. I know that I would love to try my hand at a few, starting with Gloria. Now, if I could just find some more time......

Monday, September 10, 2007

Linda's Review of The Decorated Bag by Genevieve A. Sterbenz

I thought that I might start the review of handbag, purse, and totes books with The Decorated Bag: Creating Designer Handbags, Purses, and Totes Using Embellishments.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was the embellished purse on the front cover and then when I was flipping through the book all the pictorials caught my eye. If there is anything I love in a craft and craft making book it's pictorials. You might find this unusual for a crafter and a reader, but I hate to read the text. I'd much rather look at the pictures and follow them. Now that's not to say I don't read the text. I do if I have to, but I'd rather learn from the pictures. I suspect that I'm not the only one in that regard. I'm sure many, many crafters out there are the same way.

The Decorated Bag has 26 designs ranging from bejeweled evening bags to a Victorian Straw tote to an urban cowgirl saddle bag. There's a folkart bucket bag, Marabou mini bag, springtime pull string bag, girly weekender, mod print tote, and "Miss Kitty" tote. There's even a big-city bowling bag and Hollywood hatbox.

Don't forget the American beauty bag, the blue suede portfolio, tropical demi, blue-boots tote, and buttoned-up hobo bag. And, there's the swingtime shoulder bag, lush leopard hatbox, snow-flurry lipstick purse, and vintage rhinestone purse.

Last but not least, we have the midnight feather clutch, beaded ballerina bag, silver moon satin clutch, pave polka dot purse, tottenham tweed clutch and mini travel valise.

26 bags in total all with wonderful step-by-step pictorials. Some of my favorites were as follows:

1) Bejeweled Evening Bag - This bag just looks so pretty. I'd love to try and make it. Not only does this book tell you how to decorate the bag, it also gives you step-by-step pictorials for making the bag starting on page 114. The pattern is on page 128. Definitely one I want to try.

2) American Beauty Bag - I love to make ribbon flowers and this bag is right up my alley with its folded ribbon roses. It just looks so beautiful and so delicate. It would be a wonderful compliment to a fancy dress. Pictorial step-by-step instructions are given on page 34 and 35 for making all the ribbon roses.

3) Blue-Boots Tote - This bag takes a graphic from page 133 that you scan in to the computer and then re-size and print on transfer paper and then add to the patchwork toe. This method allows you to add any image you want, not just the image they have nicely provided.

There are patterns and instructions in the back of the book for making the bejeweled evening bag, urban cowgirl saddle bag, and springtime pull-string bag. There are also some illustrations and helpful tips for some of the other bags as well.

For all the rest of the bags "The Decorated Bag" provides you with the step-by-step pictorials for converting existing bags. Each bag has a section on materials needed to embellish it, tools required, what the featured bag is, as well as design tips, and a variation illustration.

If you love purses and love to embellish them then this is a great book. There is a lot of variety in the selection of the purses with one sure to please everyone.

I can hardly wait to start my bag. The only problem is which one to choose. There are so many that I just love.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Love Of Books About Purses and Handbags!

I know that you've heard me say that I love books about dolls and all different kinds of crafts. Usually it's some kind of floral craft or paper craft. Well, lately, I've found myself fascinated with books about making purses, handbags, totes, etc.


Who knows! It's today's crafting whim. Next week it might be something else.

But, with everything I do I want loads and loads of books about it so I can experiment. And, there are loads of books to choose from on the subject of purses, handbags, and totes.

Here's the three I chose:

1) The Decorated Bag: Creating Designer Handbags, Purses, and Totes Using Embellishments

2) Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses

3) Creating Romantic Purses: Patterns & Instructions for Unique Handbags

I could have bought more, but then I'd had to endure the looks from my Mother and my darling husband. Translation - "Don't you already have enough books!" Well, NO!!!!!!! One can NEVER have enough books as far as I'm concerned. Or dolls, or floral......the list goes on and on.

So, I thought my next three posts should be about the 3 purse books that I bought. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

The first ones looks like it might have some terrific patchwork purses in it and the second one is right up my alley. A history book of purses from the 1600's to 2005. If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know how I just love history books. So, if I get that book I'll be in heaven.

Don't worry. I'll post a review about them if I decide to buy them this year. That is, if I can do so without my Mother or darling husband finding out. Ya right, Linda! That's just about impossible. Hmmm...maybe not!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vintage Barbie Dolls -With Barbie & Skipper Fashions and the Whole Family of Barbie Dolls

Since I just wrote an article about Barbie I thought it might be a good idea to review the latest book that I bought on Barbie. It's entitled "The Complete & Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls® & Fashions (Schiffer Book for Collectors)."

If you are an avid Barbie collector or even just a fan of Barbie dolls this is a great book to scan through.

If you are a collector of mint Barbie dolls this book is a complete guide to vintage Barbie and all her friends and family from 1959 to 1972. It is organized into two sections.

The first section is "Dolls" and shows pictures of the dolls as well as pictures of some of the dolls in their original packaging (which is vital for collectors of mint condition dolls). It also lists values for NRFB (Never Removed From The Box), Mint/No Box value and average value so you can see what your doll is worth. And, there is a detailed list of all the items that were originally included in the doll package.

The second section is "Outfits and Accessories" and shows pictures of the outfits as well as pictures of some of the outfits in their original packaging (which is vital for collectors of mint condition dolls). It also lists values for NRFB (Never Removed From The Box), Mint/No Box value and average value so you can see what the doll's outfit is worth. And, there is a detailed list of all the items that were originally included in the "outfit and accessories" package.

If you are a collector of Barbie this is a "must have." If you're just a fan of Barbie this book is enjoyable as well just to see the way "Barbie" has progressed through the years and what her various values are.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that I admire artists who have mastered the art of drawing or painting. I try hard, but do not have a natural talent for it. I wish I did as I'd love to be able to paint faces on some of my dolls and paint beautiful images on some of my wood crafts.

But, I want to learn how to do it so every time I go bookstore shopping I look at all the various art, drawing and painting books to see if there are any that I might like and which can teach me a few things about drawing.

One of the books I bought this year and which I just LOVE was a skinny little book containing caricatures of faces. It's entitled "Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces (REPACKAGED) (Ed Emberley Drawing Books)" and is filled with not only caricatures of faces, but shows you there progression from the beginning of the drawing to the end. For someone who doesn't know how to draw and has a need for drawing caricatures this is a terrific little book.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Just Love To Go Bookstore Shopping!

For me there is nothing more relaxing than going bookstore shopping at our local bookstores with my Mom.

Not only is the time spent with my Mom thoroughly enjoyable, but we both love books. We can spend hours upon hours just walking up and down the aisles looking at the best sellers, the discount books, the magazine section, etc. My mother always goes to the "cooking" section first while I always go to the "dolls and crafts" section.

Now I wonder why that is????? Couldn't be because I love "dolls and crafts?" Nah!!!!

Why am I telling you this? Because during the last two months we've had the opportunity to go bookstore shopping several times. They have always been delightful trips and usually I come home with some new best sellers from some of my favorite "romance" authors. The last few times I've come home with a few "doll and craft" books to add to my collection.

However, I have to tell you that I've become a little disappointed in browsing through the local bookstores lately for "doll and craft" books. You might wonder "why" as I've just told you that I love shopping at my local bookstores.

Well, I've found that in browsing through my local bookstores during the past year that they just don't seen to be carrying a lot of "doll and craft" books in their stores anymore. As a result I always find when I'm looking for "doll and craft" books that I'd much rather shop online. I discovered Amazon a long time ago and found that I loved being able to search and sort for books to my hearts content. I could easily find the categories I wanted, the authors, best sellers, etc.

At Amazon I can browse by category, look at the new releases, scan the future releases, check out the magazines, etc. I don't have to get down on my knees (which at my age is no longer fun) and crane my neck to look for the "doll and craft" books on the bottom shelf. It's so much more enjoyable to sit in my chair and let my fingers do the walking.

I can spend hours and hours doing this as well. However, the one big drawback is that in sitting at my computer browsing through my online bookstore's is that I'm missing one of the ingredients that makes my local bookstore shopping experience so enjoyable - my Mom. Maybe I'll just have to buy another computer and another computer set-up so my Mom can sit right next to me and let her fingers do the walking.

I know what she'll say to that and it's a big resounding "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" She'll give me that look that only Mother's can that makes you feel like your 3 years old even though you're a grandmother yourself. Then she'll say," Linda, a little fresh air never hurt anyone. Besides you need the exercise!" And, more importantly, she loves getting out of the house and loves going to the local bookstores to shop.

So, we'll continue to spend some lazy afternoons at the local bookstores. I'll still check out the "dolls and crafts" section first, but I won't be disappointed anymore because I know I'll be coming home and letting my fingers do the walking. My Mother doesn't have to know. What could be better than that?

Friday, July 13, 2007


I'm so excited. My two BLYTHE books that I ordered came yesterday.

I was so excited that I just had to tear the package open. And, tear it - I did. Made quite a mess. I guess you could save my enthusiasm was a little over the top! Ya think?

In any event these are the two Blythe's books that I bought and which I have read already. They are FABULOUS.

Blythe Style is a delightful collection of photographs taken by Gina Garan of Blythe wearing 131 outfits created especially for her by some of fashion's best and brightest designers. This includes Gucci, Versace, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, John Galiano, Hysteric Glamour, Milk Fed, Paul Smith, Issey Miyake, Vienne Westwood, and many, many more.

It is a visually stunning presentation for all the Blythe lovers out there and definitely a book that the lovers of Blythe will adore. I have to say that Blythe did a fabulous job modeling all of these outfits. She may be a doll, but that doesn't make her any less of a fashion diva!

I absolutely love this book and can hardly wait to show it to my granddaughters and my sister-in-law. They will love it as well.

This is Blythe is a small book of photographs taken by Gina Garan of Blythe. In this book Gina has taken some of the most delightful and whimsical photographs of Blythe in various positions, locations, and with different outfits on.

She may be at the beach, gazing out over a lake, in front of the Eiffel Tower, catching her own reflection in a mirror, dressed as a nun, adorned with various hats, sitting on Santa's lap, with her head showing in a pile of oranges, using a video camera, playing with a Ouija board, in camouflage, etc. She is just about anywhere and all the pictures are just delightful. My granddaughters and sister-in-law will love this book, too. And, I, can hardly wait to show them.

I am thrilled to add these two Blythe books to my doll books collection.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

BLYTHE Dolls - Where Have I Been?

I used to think that I was really "cool" as I had owned a Barbie doll when they first came out in the early sixties. Mine had blond hair and a ponytail. And, I had owned one of the first Barbie's with the red short-bob haircut. Why, I was so cool I even had a Ken doll with a Barbie house and all.

Of course, my best friend had the Barbie car the year it came out. I didn't so I had to concede my "coolest" crown to her for awhile. We would sit and play "Barbie" in her room for hours upon hours upon hours. Those were wonderful times and memories I will always cherish.

I have to admit though - I am no longer "cool." "Fool" might be a better word. You see, if I still had the Barbie's they'd be worth a small fortune now. But, they were thrown out with the trash as I got older. A little insight back then might have been a good thing. Ya think!

I was obsessed with Barbie back then. I had to have everything relating to Barbie. Ask me what I wanted for Christmas and I'd say "Barbie." Birthday - "Barbie." Easter "Barbie." Buying a present for my Mom for Mother's Day - "Barbie." Buying a present for my Dad on Father's Day - "Barbie." I even tried to get my mother to give my older brother a "Ken" for his birthday. She wouldn't do it and he would have killed me. In any event, you get the idea - I loved Barbie.

Well, there has been an explosion going on during the last few years with a doll that I was unaware of until recently. I must have been asleep or comatose to have missed this.

She is BLYTHE and I am now in love with her. In fact, I think I could easily become obsessed with her. She is just so ADORABLE looking. With those huge eyes that change into 4 different colors. And, that HUGE head. It must account for half of her weight, alone!

I want her and I'm on the hunt for a BLYTHE of my own.

So, where can I find them? Well, according to Denise Van Patten, Your Guide to Doll Collecting.

The original Blythe dolls from 1972 were 11.5" or 12" tall. Some "miniature" modern Blythe dolls under 6" have also been produced since 2000 by Takara.

Companies That Have Produced Blythe Dolls: Kenner was the original company that produced Blythe. Unfortunately for Kenner, the doll was ahead of her time and only lasted on the market for one year--1972. With vintage Blythe's renewed popularity with collectors in the last few years, several companies including Hasbro, Takara and Ashton Drake have reproduced Blythe.

Years of Production of Blythe Dolls: The original vintage Blythe dolls were only produced in 1972. Modern reproductions have been made by Hasbro, Takara since 2001 and by Ashton Drake since 2004.

Of course if I want an original BLYTHE doll I'd better start saving. Originals can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars on eBay. YIKES!!! I'd better be really, really good to hubby this year. Maybe he'll buy me one for Christmas. Hmm.....But, which one would I want? They're all just so ADORABLE. I just have to have her. Am I obsessed? You decide.

Well, I can't be the only person obsessed with her. If I was there wouldn't be such a HUGE market for her. So, I not alone in my obsession. So, what is it about this doll that has everyone wanting her?

Original BLYTHE dolls were about 12" tall. The miniature are about 6" tall. All the dolls have HUGE plastic heads with vinyl torsos, arms, and legs. The dolls are bendable at the knee (like bendable Barbie) and can twist at the waist.

The dolls eyes are ENORMOUS - which I think is most of her appeal. If you pull the string attached to the back of her head the eyes close and then open again with a different color and different position. BLYTHE has 4 different eye colors and positions. So each time you pull the string she looks in a different position.

Given that I just love history and research I just had to find out more about BLYTHE!

Well, here's her history according to - The FREE Encyclopedia:

Blythe (pronounced "blithe" or like the 'bli' sound in "blind") is a doll created in 1972 by designer Allison Katzman with the now-defunct American toy company Kenner. Reportedly, she was modeled after drawings by Margaret Keane, similarly to many other dolls of the '60s and '70s. Her most unique and notable feature were blinkable eyes that changed color with the pull of a string attached to the back of her head. Blythe dolls were only sold for one year in the U.S. (produced in Hong Kong), during 1972. She was not very popular and faded from store shelves quickly.

Petite Blythe dolls are four inches tall and an economical and aesthetic alternative to Neo Blythes .

Thirty years after her first release date, Blythe regained popularity. In 1997, New York TV and video producer Gina Garan was given a 1972 Kenner Blythe by a friend and began using it to practice her photographic skills. She began taking her Blythe everywhere with her and took hundreds of photos. Then, in 1999, a chance encounter with CWC's Junko Wong brought Blythe to the attention of Parco and toy executives. In 2002, Gina published her first book of Blythe photography with Chronicle Books, This is Blythe.

Later that year, Hasbro (Kenner's successor) gave the rights to make Blythe dolls to Takara of Japan. Blythe was used in a television advertising campaign by the Parco department store in Japan and was an instant hit. Success in Japan led Blythe back to the U.S., where she become a niche product in a marginal market, selling largely to adults. In 2003 she was the subject in a segment on the popular VH1 special, I Love the 70s, where she was said to look like either "Barbie with elephantiasis" or "Christina Ricci" among other things. One panelist asked if she could take a doll home! In 2004, the Ashton-Drake Galleries began to produce their own Blythe replica dolls in the United States.

A vibrant Blythe subculture flourishes on the Internet, predominantly in forums and usergroups. There is a market network of hobbyist Blythe clothiers, designers, and customizers.

There are two types of Blythe dolls: the 28 cm version and the 11.2 cm "Petit Blythe." Only large dolls have color-changing eyes, which include the colors blue, green, orange, and pink (except for cases with limited-edition dolls). Newer releases of the Petit Blythe dolls have moveable eyelids and bendable bodies. A smaller Kubrick version of Blythe also exists. The measurements of Blythe: 4.17-2.76-3.89 (in inch) or 106-70-99 (in mm). The measurements of Petit Blythe: 1.77-1.18-16.5 (in inch) or 45-30-42 (in mm).

Unlike Barbie, Blythe does not have a boyfriend. She also does not advertise her professional life. Kenner is now owned by Hasbro.

So, according to - unlike Barbie - BLYTHE doesn't have a boyfriend. That's okay. As far as I'm concerned she doesn't need one. I love her just the way she is - minus boyfriend and all. And, I want one.

Will I become obsessed?

Probably. She is a doll after all and dolls are one of my many obsessions. I guess if I want one for Christmas I'd better start hunting for her now. If I can't find her at least I can read about her. I know I'll be buying the two books about her.

Wish me luck. I'm on the hunt for "BLYTHE."

Friday, June 29, 2007

A "Small" Obsession!

I'm beginning to think that besides having an obsession with dolls, crafts, genealogy, floral crafts, and books that I have an obsession with "things that are small."

Now you might wonder what I mean by that - well, I mean objects that are "miniature, tiny, and smaller than normal."

Why would I think this? Well, for example, I love dolls, especially "small" dolls. In fact I got bored with sewing clothes for myself and switched to "doll" clothes. Why? Because they were "small" and took less time.

My dog is "small" and I have always loved "small" dogs.

I have an obsession with shoes - especially "miniature" shoes. Why? because they're "small."

I love creating ornaments or "ornies!" Why? You guessed it - because they're "small."

I like the "tiny" post-its the best.

My cell phone has to be "small" as does my digital camera.

And, here's the best one, my husband is actually "smaller" than I am. I'm about 2 inches taller than he is.

So, am I "small" obsessed?

You might think so if you had been with my Mother and I the last time we went to the bookstore. I, of course, found lots of doll and craft books that I just had to add to my collection.

And, then I found the "small" display of 3 x 3 x 1 1/4" boxes. They were the cutest, most adorable, display of tiny little boxes filled with tiny books, craft projects, and other items. I was there for an hour just looking at them and laughing my head off. I can't imagine what everyone must have been thinking about this 5'10" woman laughing her head off about a display of "small" boxes and books.

Oh well, I had a grand time. That is, until my Mother came over and said, "Linda, that's enough - let's go!" Even though I'm well past the age when my Mother can tell me what to do - and I do mean well past the age - I dutifully said, "Yes, Mother!" So, I picked up the 3 little boxes that I wanted and went to find a register.

I hope you're wondering by now which 3 "small" boxes I chose. If you are, here's the ones I decided to buy and why.

Why do I like it? Because it has the cutest little gnome inside and a tiny little book all about gnomes. Now I know that some people can't stand garden gnomes and some people can't get enough of them. I, personally, just love the little gnome and gnome history book. Maybe he'll bring me good luck. I'll have to put him on the top of my monitor for good "gnome" luck.

Fairy Fancies contains a tiny little paper fairy with two sheets of clothing and accessories to dress your fairy by and a tiny little book on "fairy folklore." I was thinking of giving this to one of my granddaughters as she is "fairy obsessed" but have decided to keep it for me. It just the cutest little "paper fairy." Maybe I'll put her next to my gnome on the top of my monitor. Then I'll have "gnome and fairy" luck.

Now you might wonder why I wanted this little box about calligraphy. Well, I have loved calligraphy and have wanted to try it for a long time. I've just never had the time to so so. Add that to a long list of crafts I want to try. In any event, I was intrigued by the tiny little history of calligraphy book inside the box. It also contained a few sheets of paper, a tiny calligraphy pen, and a tiny bottle of ink. I thought, maybe I could read about the history of calligraphy and give it a "tiny" try. Hmmmm..... Maybe not! So, my tiny bottom of ink and calligraphy pen are sitting right next to my gnome and fairy.

Reminders of things I'd like to learn and my "small" obsession.

Oh, well. There are worse things in life than a "small" obsession. Now if I could just get my Mother to go to the bookstore again I could get some more "small" boxes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back to Reading and The Book Reviews! YIPPEE!

Sometimes there just are not enough hours in the day. Never enough time to get everything done. And, not enough time to do everything that you love to do.

For me that's crafting, sewing, doll making, reading, browsing bookstores, blogging, researching my family genealogy, floral design, gardening (if I can avoid poison ivy), shopping for handmade crafts, scanning history books, doing crossword puzzles, working on the computer, and spending time with my family.

And, of course, shopping. Well, my Mother and I got to spend several days shopping at some of our favorite bookstores. I don't know about you, but I can spend hours on end just browsing up and down the aisles of any bookstore. Not surprising I love the crafts and history book sections.

Of course, I also love browsing over all the books on sale at reduced prices. Sometimes you can find some FABULOUS books that are a couple of years old. I don't care about how old they are. If it's a FABULOUS book at a reduced price then I'm thrilled.

Given that I can never visit a bookstore without buying a book I bought many recently. Of course, hubby just gave me one of those "Where are you going to put those!" looks when I brought them home. I, of course, gave him a look of "I'll find a place. There's ALWAYS room for books!"

So, I'm back to reading and book reviews and hope to have a bunch of book reviews for all of you in the next few weeks.

I'm off to read.

I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jan Foulke's Guide To Dolls - A Definitive Identification and Price Guide

You may recall that I recently reviewed Jan Foulke's 15Th and 16Th edition Blue Book of Dolls & Values here in an article on "The Book Review Blog."

Well, I was recently sent Jan Foulke's Guide to Dolls: A Definitive Identification & Price Guide. It's been four years since her last price guide and I have to tell you that this guide is every bit as good if not better.

Jan has been a trusted authority on antique and doll collecting for over thirty years and her latest release will again prove to be the "bible" of doll collecting.

If you are into dolls and collecting old, vintage, or even new dolls "Jan Foulke's Guide To Dolls - A Definitive Identification and Price Guide" will help you identify and learn about your dolls or dolls you are thinking of buying. It can help you appraise the dolls you already have in your collection as well as help you to determine whether or not a doll you are considering buying is fairly priced.

It also has useful information for the doll collecting enthusiast as to investing in dolls, marks to look for, quality, condition, body, clothing, total originality, age, size, availability, popularity, desirability, uniqueness, and visual appearance. It also has tips for selling a doll.

Jan Foulke's Guide To Dolls - A Definitive Identification and Price Guide is organized into two alphabetical sections: Antique & Vintage Dolls, and Modern & Collectible Dolls. In each section the dolls are listed alphabetically by doll maker, by material, and sometimes by trade name.

The values shown in Jan Foulke's Guide To Dolls - A Definitive Identification and Price Guide are retail prices for clean dolls in excellent overall condition. For the doll collecting enthusiast this book is an indispensable tool especially if you're looking for that "rare" doll find or are just starting a doll collection and looking to buy a doll of value.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Harry Potter Books and My Grandson

With the latest news that the 7Th and final book in the wildly popular Harry Potter series entitled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)" will be released July 21, 2007 I thought I'd relate a story about the series and my grandson that you might enjoy.

Several years ago I was looking for a birthday present for my grandson. I wanted the present that his Grandfather and I gave him to be one that was "THE HOTTEST ITEM" amongst adolescent and teenage boys at the time.

I had read that one of the hottest and coolest items amongst adolescents and teenage boys was "The Harry Potter" Series of books, which then had only 3 books in the series. So, I decided we'd give him the 3 hardcover books that were in the series.

Even though this was the "hottest" ticket item it was a gamble for his Grandfather and I. You see, my grandson wasn't a reader. But, I figured peer pressure would create enthusiasm for him and maybe he'd discover a love for reading.

Well, he opened his present, smiled and said thank-you, but wasn't really thrilled. We'd bombed out. At least we thought so until the following year when "Harry Potter" really took off. Then the teenage boys and adolescents couldn't get enough of Harry Potter. Harry Potter mania had set in and all of a sudden we (that is his Grandfather and I) were just the "coolest" grandparents as our Grandson already had the first three books in the series and was "the man" amongst all his friends.

Even our son-in-law was enthusiastic about the books and decided to start reading them to our youngest grandson for his bedtime stories. It took awhile but they got through the first 3 books and decided to buy the 4Th book in the series.

Well, not to be outdone by their younger brothers our older teenage granddaughters decide to read the series, too. So they, too read all three of the books in the set we had given their brother and then read Book 4.

When Book 5 was released in 2003 and Book 6 was release in 2005 they all read those, too.

Our grandson ended up loving the books. I'd love to say that he became a reader because of it. He did and he didn't.

He has become a reader - just a reader of a different kind of book. You see - he loves the Japanese cartoon books that you read from back to front like "Inu Yasha", "Fruit Basket", "Juvenille Orion", and the "Trigun Maximum" series.

For me, the Grandmother who gives books every Christmas that's terrific. At least he's reading. Doesn't matter whether it's comics or not. He's reading. So, I just buy him the latest comic books in those series.

So, the moral of the story is that - "Just because a present isn't initially received
with the greatest of enthusiasm doesn't mean it won't be appreciated over time."

I suspect he and his brother will want the 7Th and last book in the Harry Potter's series. I'll have to pre-order it for them.

I'll let you know next summer how my two grandson's liked it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book#6 Ultimate Doll Book

Readers of my "Linda's Blog" know that I just love dolls of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. I also love history, especially if it's doll history.

Many, many years ago I bought a book on doll history (the cover is shown in the first picture above) that was supposed to be the "ultimate" book on dolls and doll history. Well, it definitely lived up to its hype.

The Ultimate Doll Book was written by Caroline Goodfellow who is a doll curator.

"The Ultimate Doll Book" is a wonderful treasury of more than 400 different dolls of every type and every time period. It covers the history of dolls from a manufacturing perspective over the last 200 years which was something I was fascinated by. Plus, for the doll collector or someone thinking of starting a doll collection there is some helpful advice for doing so.

There are beautiful, beautiful pictures of all of the various dolls photographed by Matthew Ward contained throughout the book. One of my favorite dolls is the "Old Pretender" pictured on Page 2 and Page 13. She was made in c1680 and it is said that she belonged to the court of King James II. Of course, I just love her and all the rest of the early dolls (circa 1680's to 1820's). Now why is that? Hmmm....

The book is arranged in chronological chapters by manufacturing processes and materials used to make the dolls and starts with Wooden Dolls. This chapter covers Early Dolls (1680's to 1820's), Dolls from the New World (1850's to 1930's), Poupards and Simple Dolls (1800's to present), and Peg Woodens (1790's to present).

The next chapter is Composition Dolls and covers Greiner and German Dolls (1840's to 1900's), Developments in Composition (1850's to 1930's), Alexander Doll Company (1926 to present), and Wax-Over Composition Dolls (1830's to 1900's).

Then we learn the history of and manufacturing of Poured Wax Dolls, Early Dolls ( 1750's to 1850's), English Makers (1850's to 1930's), The Pierotti Family (1770's to 1935), Pierotti Portrait Dolls (1900's to 1930's), and Princess Daisy (1890's).

Next is the history of and manufacturing of Porcelain Dolls, Fancy Glazed China Heads (1830's to 1880's), Plain Glazed China Heads (1840's to 1870's), Fancy Untinted Bisque Heads (1860's to 1880's), and Plain Untinted Bisque Heads (1860's to 1880's.

Following this is Bisque Dolls. We learn about Fashionable Lady Dolls (1860's to 1890's), Developments in Body Types (1860's to 1880's), Jumeau Dolls (1842 to 1958), Bru Dolls (1866 to 1950's), Lady With Wooden Body (1870's), Steiner Dolls (1855 to 1908), The S.F.B.J. and Others (1899 to 1950's), German Marks of Distinction (1860's to 1920's), German Character Dolls (1880's to 1900's), German Doll-Makers (1890's to 1930's), Lady Betty Modish (1902 to 1911), Armand Marseille Dolls (1890's to 1930's), My Dream Baby (1920's to 1930's), Bisque Baby Dolls (1900's to 1990's), Lesser-known German Makers (1900's to 1930's), Ethnic and English Dolls (1860's to 1920's), and Mass-produced Bisque Dolls (1900's to 1940's).

Then we learn the history of Rag Dolls and the American Home Industry (1890's to 1930's), Painted and Sewn Dolls (1880's to 1900's), Printed Cloth Dolls (1900's to 1980's), Steiff Dolls (1900's to present), English Manufacturers (1920's to 1950's), European Manufacturers (1920's to 1950's), and Norah Wellings (1919 to 1960).

Then we are on to the history of and manufacturing of Celluloid Dolls including German Manufacturers (1870's to 1960's) and Mass-produced Dolls (1900's to 1980's).

Modern Dolls is covered next including Voque Dolls, Inc. (1940's to 1960's), American Manufacturers (1900's to present), The Changing Faces of Barbie (1959 to present), English Manufacturers (1950's to 1980's), Sindy and Patch (1960's to present), Baby and Toddler Dolls (1940's to present), Royal Doulton and Nisbet (1980 to 1985), Men and Boys (1960's to present), and New Doll Ideas (1960's to present).

This is followed by the history of National dolls, including Japanese Dolls (1900's to 1960's), Chinese Dolls (1900's to 1950's), Russian Dolls (1800's to present), and Patriotic Character Dolls (1890's to 1918).

The last doll history section concerns the history of Unusual Dolls. This includes Multiple Heads and Faces (1860's to 1980's), Peddler Dolls (1820's to 1990's), and A Master Doll-maker (1970's to present). The latter has to be seen as they are just exquisite.

The final sections of the book contain useful information for the doll collecting enthusiast. It also contains a section on caring for your rare and vintage dolls.

Given that I love dolls, love doll history, and especially love the Victorian Period it was a given that I would love this book. To say it's my favorite doll book would not be an exaggeration. I can read it again, again, and again. I just love dolls. Dolls of all kinds. But, that's me. Maybe after reading Ultimate Doll Book that will be you, too.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book #5 Sewing & Sculpting Dolls

If you are familiar with me and my Linda Walsh Originals website then you know that I am a cloth doll maker and doll pattern designer. You also know that I love dolls of any kind, shape, or size. It doesn't matter if they are plain, elaborately costumed, ugly (sometimes the uglier the better), made of wood, cloth or clay, or even paper. It doesn't matter if they have faces or are faceless. They can be boys, girls, animals, creatures, ghosts, goblins, witches, angels, etc. It doesn't matter to me. I just love dolls.

Well, several years ago I bought a delightful book on cloth doll making by Eloise Piper. It was for making dolls from cloth, modeling paste, and polymer clay. But, what caught my eye was that it looked like it would be a "fun" book with a "sense of humor" contained within.

The books title is Sewing and Sculpting Dolls: Easy-To-Make Dolls from Fabric, Modeling Paste, and Polymer Clay and the author is Eloise Piper. Eloise is an artist, teacher, and doll maker.

"Sewing & Sculpting" Chapter One starts with information, patterns, and examples for sewing and making the basic rag doll body. Throughout the pages are whimsical doll illustrations to delight you as you read through it. Basic doll design is followed by customizing the basic pattern, then body proportions. And, of course, all the pages have the whimsical doll illustrations.

In Chapter Two you learn about materials and processes. Here you might learn about doll making materials, tea staining, spatter painting, gessoing, painting, crackling, stain buffing, needle sculpting, sculpting with modeling paste, and sculpting with polymer clay. You also learn about additional surface embellishing techniques.

In Chapter Three you get instructions for making plain and fancy dolls using the basic doll body pattern that Eloise provides. You can make plain Amish children, play pals, fancy dolls, creating a wig, and sewing the basic wardrobe.

Chapter Four is for the intermediate doll maker and is titled "Dolls of a New Dimension." It includes intermediate cloth doll projects with sculpted modeling paste faces. It is a wonderful chapter with details and pictorials throughout.

Chapter Five is for the advanced doll maker and has advanced doll projects for cloth bodied dolls with polymer clay heads, feet, and hands. It, too, is a wonderful chapter with pictures of some of Eloise's finished dolls.

All throughout the book you are presented with whimsical drawings and caricatures. Each and every one is delightful and is what makes this book so much fun to read. For the cloth doll making enthusiast there is a lot to learn in Elosie's Sewing and Sculpting Dolls: Easy-To-Make Dolls from Fabric, Modeling Paste, and Polymer Clay book. If you're just starting out making cloth dolls or are an intermediate or advanced doll maker Elosie's "Sewing & Sculpting Dolls" is a great book to have.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book #4 Bluebook Dolls & Values


I'll bet that doll collectors who scour flea markets and yard sales for that rare doll find always take something with them. Want to bet? Want to know what that is?

Well, it would be the Blue Book Dolls and Values, 15th Edition book or, now, Jan Foulke's Guide to Dolls: A Definitive Identification & Price Guide book. Why would I bet that they all take their copies whenever they go hunting for dolls? Because if you are a doll collector, especially a collector of rare and vintage dolls, and want to know what a doll is worth you need the "Blue Book."

The "15Th (or 16Th) Blue Book - Dolls & Values" is written by Jan Foulke with photographs by Howard Foulke.

I would dare say that the doll collector's "blue book" is the most trusted price guide to all types of dolls around. The book I have is the 15Th edition and there is now a new 16Th edition.

If you are into dolls and collecting old, vintage, or even new dolls the "Blue Book" will help you identify and learn about your dolls or dolls you are thinking of buying. It can help you appraise the dolls you already have in your collection as well as help you to determine whether or not a doll you are considering buying is fairly priced.

It also has useful information for the doll collecting enthusiast as to investing in dolls, marks to look for, quality, condition, body, clothing, total originality, age, size, availability, popularity, desirability, uniqueness, and visual appearance. It also has tips for selling a doll.

The "Blue Book" is organized into two alphabetical sections: Antique & Vintage Dolls, and Modern & Collectible Dolls. In each section the dolls are listed alphabetically by doll maker, by material, and sometimes by trade name.

The values shown in the "Blue Book" are retail prices for clean dolls in excellent overall condition. For the doll collecting enthusiast this book is an indispensable tool especially if you're walking around that flea market or scouring yard sales for that "rare" doll find.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book#3 - New Complete Guide To Sewing

I was very fortunate to learn how to sew from my mother and my mother's best friend when I was 9 years old. They showed me how to use the sewing machine, explained how to read a pattern, showed me how to cut out the pieces, and explained what the various sewing terms meant, etc. I learned the basics from them - the rest I learned through trial and error. And, I have been sewing now for 0ver 50 years.

At times I wished I had a comprehensive sewing book that would explain everything there is to know about sewing with detailed illustrations and pictorials. Well, in 1976 my mother bought one that I just loved.

So, I decided to review "The New Complete Guide to Sewing: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories Updated Edition with All-New Projects and Simplicity Patterns (Reader's Digest)"from Reader's Digest.

In 1976 Reader's Digest published their first "Complete Guide To Sewing" and it became the standard reference book for beginners and sewers. It had everything but the kitchen sink in it. And, best of all it had detailed step-by-step instructions to explain everything, including the kitchen sink. I was thrilled when my mother bought her copy and I borrowed it multiple numbers of times over the years.

Well, I decided several years ago that it was time for me to have my own copy so I bought the Reader's Digest "New Complete Guide to Sewing - Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories."

If you want to learn how to sew then you don't need any other book but this one. It has so many detailed directions, so many illustrations, so many pictorials, so many work saving tips, and practical advice that it's hard to comprehend it all in one sitting. Plus, it also has 20 fun projects for you to try. It is a virtual smorgasbord of a sewing encyclopedia.

There are eleven chapters, which cover: Sewing Equipment and Fabrics, Cutting, Stitches and Seams, Neckline Finishes and Collars, Waistlines and Belts, Sleeves and Sleeve Finishes, Pockets, Fastenings, Tailoring, and Patchwork and Quilting.

The projects include an evening blouse, dress pants, pleated skirt, christening dress, curtains, summer dress, tailored jacket, short blouse, sheer curtains, Bermuda shorts, skirt, girl's skirt, boy's short, safari jacket, pillow cover, beach towel, lace blouse, bench cushion cover, patchwork vest, and baby blanket.

I've only had my copy for a few years but the pages show evidence of a lot of use. Even an old dog can learn new tricks and I find that every time I pick this book up to look at something that I learn something new or re-learn something I obviously had forgotten.

There's a lot to digest in this book. But, if you want one book to teach you how to sew this is the book you should have. Best of all it's a book that can be used by beginners and expert seamstresses alike.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book#2 - Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts


I doubt there is anyone who is involved with primitive or heirloom crafts, makes primitive or heirloom crafts, or loves primitive decor who does not know who Tasha Tudor is. I certainly know who she is and just love all the children's books illustrated by her, and books written about her and her life in New Hampshire and Vermont.

So, I thought I'd tell you about one of the books about her that I just love.

The book's title is Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts and the Author is Tovah Martin. Photographs are by Richard W. Brown. The book comes in hardcover with the first picture that is shown above as its' cover and in softcover with the second picture shown above as its' cover.

Just to give you a little biography on Tasha Tudor she is a world renown illustrator. She was 92 when she passed away in 2008 and her first book "Pumpkin Moonshine" was published in 1938.

I became aware of her as a child due to the beautiful children's books she illustrated including The Secret Garden, Mother Goose, and The Little Princess. Tasha raised her family in New Hampshire and then moved to Vermont 36 years ago into a home built by her son Seth using hand tools.

Previous to that she lived in New Hampshire in a 17-room brick farm house that was filled with antiques. One room of her house (which I would have loved to see) housed her antique doll collection.

Tasha is an expert at cooking, canning, candle dipping, soap making, weaving, knitting, spinning, basketry, gardening, quilting, lace making, sewing, pottery, dried florals, and doll making.

Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts book is filled with beautiful pictures of Tasha and her life in Vermont. We get to read about and see pictures of the interior of her beautiful primitive house, her antique loom, her dolls, her puppets, basketry, woodworking and pottery. We also get to read about and see pictures of her gardens and her dried florals. There are chapters on dyeing wool, spinning flax, dairying, soap making, candle making, canning, cider making, and open hearth cooking. And, my favorite chapter is the one on "The World in Miniature" which includes her marionettes, toys, dolls, and her dollhouse.

If you love primitive or heirloom crafting and want to learn about primitive life in Vermont and heirloom crafting from an astonishing woman than you need look no further than Tasha Tudor's books.

Books about her and her life in New Hampshire and Vermont are a MUST READ for the primitive and heirloom crafting enthusiast. Her family currently handles her business and the Tasha Tudor website at

I hope you enjoy browsing through Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts, reading the wonderful chapters, and viewing the beautiful pictures as much as I did.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series - Book#1 - Creative Cloth Doll Making

I'm just so excited that I could barely get my new "The Book Review Corner" blog finished when I just had to tell you about the most wonderful doll making book that my husband gave me for Christmas.

This is the first book that I will be reviewing for my "Linda's Dolls and Craft Book Review Series" and it is Book#1.

The books title is Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches for Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques and the Author is Patti Medaris Culea. If you are into dolls and doll making then I'm sure you have heard of Patti Medaris Culea and her wonderful cloth dolls. They are just unbelievable.

In the book Patti explains the basics of doll making and provides everything you need to know to make 5 of her dolls. She shows you how to measure, draw, create, and paint a face. She also explains how to lay out patterns, turn tiny fingers, and stuff the cloth dolls. Each doll is contained within a specific chapter as an example for that particular technique she is discussing. And, within each chapter are pictures of other doll makers cloth doll creations that are examples of that chapter's technique.

Her first chapter contains all the information needed to make a basic painted cloth doll. Chapter two elaborates more on the more intricate details of painting and finishing your basic painted cloth doll. Chapter three's doll shows you how to work with Tyvek, liners and machine embroidery. Chapter four contains and advance doll and showcases beading techniques. Chapter five contains "The Collage Doll" and highlights working with fabric, beading and photo transfers. And, finally, "The Gallery" at the back of the book showcases some elaborately decorated and exquisite cloth dolls from various cloth doll makers.

If you love to make cloth dolls and want to learn from the best then Patti Medaris Culea's Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches for Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques book is a MUST READ.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. If you should buy the book and make a doll please send us a picture. We'd love to show everyone your doll. Happy doll making. I'm off to start mine.

Grandma, Will You Read Me A Story?

Don't you just love this quote from Dr. Seuss:

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.
~ Dr. Seuss ~

A verse so simple yet so very true.

Children learn to read from their parents or as Emilie Buchwald said in 1994, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."

So, it is vitally important for parents to read to their children from infancy. The more children read, the better they become at reading. And, the more young children are read to, the greater their interest in reading. Reading out loud to children helps them with their verbal skills, enhances their development and teaches them how to express themselves verbally.

Other people have also stated this so eloquently:

Books, to the reading child, are so much more than books -- they
are dreams and knowledge, they are a future, and a past.(1940)
~ Esther Meynell ~

There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. (1952)
~ Mary Ellen Chase ~

It is not enough to simply teach children to read;
we have to give them something worth reading.
Something that will stretch their imaginations-
something that will help them make sense of their own
lives and encourage them to reach out toward people
whose lives are quite different from their own.
~ Katherine Paterson ~

If you've been a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that I've had a long term love affair with dolls, doll patterns, the Victorian era, floral design, and genealogy.

You also know that I love research and history.

What you don't know until now is that I have always LOVED books and reading, too. As far as I'm concerned you can never have enough dolls and you can never have enough books.

My house is filled with them. Books of all kinds. My love affair with books began very early on. My Mother is an avid reader, my Father was an avid reader, my Grandmother and Great-Aunt were avid readers, and so it was passed down to my siblings and I.

I can remember sitting in my Grandmother's rocking chair (which I still have) and having her read me a story. Sometimes we would sit there while she was watching her soap opera's (this was when black/white TV's first came out) and then she would read me my story. I never minded just sitting there with her. I always knew there would be a story. And, I always felt safe in her arms.

Now, when I read I think about sitting with my Grandmother or listening to my Mom and Dad talk about their love of reading and it brings back warm and pleasant feelings for me.

Reading is such an escape. You can literally get lost in a book. The book for a brief moment becomes your life and you can imagine that you're experiencing it. There is nothing more powerful then your imagination. Even the most spectacular movie with all its wonderful special effects and cinematography cannot compare to what you own imagination can create. There are no limits, no boundaries to your imagination when you are reading. Reading can take you anywhere. If you know how to read you can do anything because there isn't anything you can't do if you put your mind to it.

I am a firm believer in books and reading as a way of teaching children. And it must be taught at a very young age, on the laps of our parents, as the graphic above nicely conveys. As Mccosh quoted, "The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think."
In fact, my Grandchildren can attest to the fact that every Christmas or Birthday they know what at least some of their presents will be from their Grandmother: books.

To me, that is one of the best presents I could give them. By giving them books all the time, I hope somehow I'm conveying a love of reading to them. Reinforcing the value of reading time and time again. Making them think. Hopefully, by developing good reading skills they learn how to think for themselves.

For I firmly believe in the following quote:

To read is to empower
To empower is to write
To write is to influence
To Influence is to change
To change is to live.
~ Jane Evershed ~
More than a Tea Party

In fact, I was watching a show on one of the cable channels about the greatest invention mankind has ever seen. They counted down through hundreds of inventions until they got to #1. Do you know what it was? The greatest invention mankind has ever seen was the invention of the printing press. Why, because it opened the whole world up to everyone and mankind was never the same again.

So, grab a book. Take it to a quiet place and get lost in your own imagination.

And the next time your Grandchildren come to visit spend the weekend reading to them, not watching T.V. or playing video games. Just reading from books.

Your Grandchildren may surprise you and love it. And, you will open up a magical world to them from which they will never return.

I did it!
Come and look
At what I've done!
I read a book!
When someone wrote it
Long ago
For me to read,
How did he know
That this was the book
I'd take from the shelf
And lie on the floor
And read by myself?
I really read it!
Just like that!
Word by word,
From first to last!
I'm sleeping with
This book in bed,
This first FIRST book
I've ever read!
~ David L. Harrison ~
(from Somebody Catch My Homework)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Book Review Corner Blog!

You might be wondering what I'm going to do with "The Book Review Corner " blog?

Well, all sorts of things. I'll be reviewing my favorite books, of course, and might even throw in a few surprises for our readers. I might even show you pictures of some of the creations I've made from some of these books.

For the most part I will be reviewing books on dolls, doll making, crafts, craft making, florals, and all of the various sewing and crafting book subjects out there. It's a huge umbrella, but I have a lot of books and I just LOVE TO READ. Plus, I did mention I have a few surprises so my book review subjects won't always fall under our huge umbrella. I plan on having fun doing this and hope you will too.

Please come and see my NEW "The Book Review Corner" blog. Bring a cup of tea so you can stay awhile.