Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Holidays To All!

To all the readers of my "The Book Review Corner " blog I would like to say:

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!
Happy Holidays To All!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Linda's Review of "My Favorite Felt Sweets" by Joie, Inc.

I have been eying some needle felting and felt craft books for a few months now and have taken a particular interest in the little felt cupcakes that a lot of crafter's have been making as centerpieces for their children's birthday parties.

They just looked so real and yet so inviting. I decided I wanted to learn how to make some. In fact, I wanted to make a whole 3-tier level centerpiece of nothing but felt cupcakes.

Well, low and behold, last week I got an email from Tomoe Sumi of Kodansha America, LLC asking me if I'd like to review "My Favorite Felt Sweets" by Joie, Inc. translated by Yoko Ishiguro.

Well, we talking about a Japanese felt crafting book containing pictures and instructions for making 106 of the cutest felt food items around. And, we are not just talking about cupcakes. We're talking about all sorts of sweets.

My imagination was getting the better of me. Either that or I was really hungry when I decided to answer Tomoe Sumi and tell him I'd be delighted to review "My Favorite Felt Sweets" book.

The book came the other day and I have to tell you that I've been hungry ever since. You just have to see the pictures of these 106 sweet, delectable treats to understand why my mouth is watering.

Forget the real food. Give me the mouth watering non-caloric felt desserts any day.

I keep envisioning a whole table filled with nothing but 3-tier china plates containing felt petit fours, cakes, donuts, and even chocolates. Oh, my! How beautiful and colorful would that picture be!

Couldn't you just imagine giving a friend the perfect diet gift. A box of chocolates filled with nothing but tiny felt chocolates. How marvelous would that be. Not caloric and a gift to last a lifetime.

My Favorite Felt Sweetsis 97 pages long. The first 32 pages are filled with the most mouth watering pictures of 106 different felt edibles you'd ever want to see. The remaining 65 pages are filled with drawn pictorial instructions for making the edibles plus FULL size pattern piece sheets.

They also provide instructions for transferring the patterns, cutting the felt, preparing embroidery floss, how-to's for the various sewing & embroidery stitches, and hints for stuffing and/or cutting foam.

Both the drawn pictorial instructions and the pattern sheets are very easy to follow. My only complaint with the book would be that I think some of the drawn pictorial instructions and pattern piece sheets would have been better suited had they been spaced out a little more and away from the binding of the book. This would have made them easier to read and made photo coping of some of the pattern piece sheets a lot easier. I just hate to destroy the binding of a book just to photocopy some of the pages.

However, the beautiful photographs, the inclusion of 106 marvelous felt sweet projects, and clear instructions more than offset any negatives I may have.

I'm sitting here thinking of all the delectable sweets I'm going to make. Definitely the sponge cake, all the petit fours, the heart shaped tart, mixed beery pie, chocolate vanilla cookies, pinwheels, pancake sandwiches, chocolate gift basket cake, and Christmas cookies.

Plus, the box of chocolates! Oh, my!

I'm having visions of the most colorful holiday dessert table filled with nothing but mouth watering felt desserts and envisioning every one's face upon seeing them.

Oh, my! This is going to be FUN!

I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Linda's Review of Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatel

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from Kim Chatel telling me that she's an author of children's books and that she had a new book called Rainbow Sheep that was released in May. It was a children's story illustrated with needle-felted fiber art and also contained 2 simple felt crafts for kids.

Kim asked if I would be interested in reviewing it. A children's story with needle felt crafts for kids!

Hmmm.... It didn't take me long to consider Kim's request. Of course I would review it. I was intrigued by the needle felt illustrations and the projects for the kids.

Kim not only send me the book, but sent me one of her wonderful needle felted sheep. It's the cutest blue needle felted sheep and is currently sitting on the top of my computer monitor.

Well, I have to tell you that I just loved Kim's "Rainbow Sheep" book. It is a wonderful story that is warm, enchanting, and lovingly illustrated with the fiber art.

It's the story of a shepherdess named Genevieve who has a very vivid imagination. She encounters a sad rainbow cloud and does everything she can to make him happy. Finally, she does make the cloud happy and when he starts to cry happy tears his colors return. In the middle of this the sheep are caught in the colorful rain drops and forever transformed into rainbow colored sheep.

Kim's book contains 12 wonderful fiber art illustrations. My favorite by far is the mermaid and whale. It is just adorable. It is followed by the jousting seahorses.

In the back of Kim's book there is a short section explaining what needle felting is with a picture of a felting needle and two easy to do felted craft projects for kids: felted soap and needle felted sheep. The former requires no adult supervision. The latter requires adult supervision and is only recommended for children 8 years and older. Both sets of instructions are very easy to follow.

Kim is an accomplished photographer and fiber artist, as well as gifted writer of children's stories. Her website http://www.kimchatel.com is geared towards children and filled with an array of pages for kids to learn about her books, fiber art, her photographs, etc. It is well worth the visit.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Linda's Review of Artful Paper Dolls - New Ways To Play With Traditional Form by Terry Taylor

As a very young girl I can remember playing with my very first paper doll - Betsy McCall. I would cut Betsy and her clothes out of the magazine ever so carefully. Of course, being a young girl my first attempts at cutting every so carefully didn't go as smooth as I had planned and my mother or grandmother would try to correct for my errors.

I didn't like the paper doll tabs and didn't always utilize them. I quickly learned, however, that the clothes would not stay on the paper doll without them.

I must have a thing for tabs and markers as I also didn't like the triangle placement tabs in sewing patterns when I first started to sew. I would cut them off as well until I learned that for clothing they served a very useful purpose.

Since I had a passion for Victorian dolls from a very young age I loved playing with my Victorian paper dolls. I could sit for hours on end just putting this outfit on or that outfit. When I was finished playing with my paper dolls I would put them back in a cardboard cigar box that my grandfather had given to me for storing them.

Back them I would never have foreseen the enormous explosion in the paper industry that has occurred over the last decade. Nor could I have foreseen that paper dolls would become and art form in its' own right. Who would have know that altered art and mixed media creations would rule the art world in the 21st century.

One of the books I bought last year was Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form. Even at first glance I was immediately taken by the visually stunning paper creations of some 22 well known designers.

On every page was yet another beautiful paper doll creation that I wanted to try. Of course, there isn't any kind of doll, paper included, that I haven't wanted to try and make. My problem is always one of time. There are just not enough hours in the day, nor days in the year for me to try everything.

Artful Paper Dolls is not just a compendium of project after project, it also includes a little bit of history on various paper dolls and paper doll artists. So, it's a perfect book for me as it offers a little bit of history as well as project after project after project.

It is divided into four chapters: Figuring It Out, Playing Dress Up, Playing House, and Learning From Books. Each chapter has a multitude of sections and a multitude of paper doll creations to try. I, of course, loved them all but was especially taken with the Disjointed Figure, Elisabeth's Doppelganger (which is a life-size paper doll), My Memory Doll, Secret Messenger Doll, the section on playing dress up, Old Woman In Purple, Stitched Paper Dolls, Sunday Best Dress, and Paper Doll Magnets.

I also enjoyed the chapter on "Who Is Betsy McCall" and "Tom Tierney's World Of Paper Dolls."

If you love paper dolls, mixed media art, and altered art images then you will love "Artful Paper Dolls." Several of the corners of the pages in my book have been turned over as a reminder to me that I want to try that project. I know that I shouldn't do that to the pages of my books, but sometimes childhood habits are hard to break. You could also say that sometimes childhood loves last forever. For me a love of paper dolls certainly has. Now where are my scissors?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Linda's Review of Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edward

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know that I just love dolls and books about dolls, especially cloth dolls.

One of the books that I bought last year was Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors). It is a collectors guide of cloth dolls and their values and I was especially interested in it because it contained cloth dolls, which up to this point in time were often overlooked by the doll collecting society as a whole.

I never understood this as I always thought that the category of dolls would include dolls with cloth heads as well as dolls with wood, china, bisque, clay, or cernit heads. Fortunately cloth dolls are gaining in popularity amongst collectors and especially amongst the ever growing segment of people who love "primitives." Unfortunately, cloth doesn't always survive well over time so there are not a lot of examples of really ancient dolls made solely of cloth around.

Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors) starts with a small chapter about cloth dolls of long ago. Unfortunately, not a lot survived.

Chapter 2 contains homemade rag dolls of the 19Th and 20Th century and has several pages of wonderful pictures of dolls and a brief history of cloth dolls during that period along with mention of the 1st doll patterns. Looking at the pictures of the dolls I couldn't help but wonder who the creator was, who the recipient was, and why the doll was made.

Chapter 3 covers the cottage industry dolls of the 19Th and 20Th century. What captured my attention was a line from the 1st paragraph that stated, "In the world of cloth dolls it is very interesting to note that most of these companies were started and run by women." My guess would be that a LOT of these women were mothers who had started out just sewing dolls for their children.

In Chapter 3 you will find information and pictures of Izannah F. Walker who started making dolls around 1840, Roxanna E. Cole, Moravian Rag Dolls, Martha L. Wellington, Presbyterian Rag Dolls , Columbian Rag Dolls, Mother's Congress Dolls, The Alabama Indestructible Doll, Kathe Kruse, Martha Jenks Chase, Missionary Rag Babies, Philadelphia Rag Babies, Anne Maxwell, Gertrude F. Robinson, Wold War I Paris, Tynietoy, Kamkins, and Regional Dress Doll.

Chapter 4 covers big business rag dolls in the 19Th and 20Th century. These are large scale factories and whole sellers including: Montanari, George Hawkins, Carl Weigand, Worsted Dolls, Steiff Dolls, Babyland Rag Dolls, Bruckner Dolls, Dean's Rag Book Co., Krueger Dolls, Jane Gray Co., Farnell-Alpha Toys, American Art Dolls, and one of my favorite sections - Raggedy Ann and Andy.

It also includes Chad Valley Dolls, Bing Art Dolls, Lenci, Messina-Vat, Madame Alexander, Norah Wellings, Liberty of London, Nelke Dolls, Georgene Novelties/Madame Hendron, Averill Manufacturing Co., Mollye Goldman, Poupees Raynal, Venus, Gre-Poir, The Blossom Doll Co., Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., and Hallmark Dolls.

Chapter 5 is a lovely chapter devoted to dolls by the yard - cut and sew dolls. It includes E.S. Peck, Arnold Printworks, Cocheco Manufacturing Company, Gutsell Dolls, Art Fabric Mills, Horsman, Dean's Rag Book Co., Saalfield Publishing Co., and The Toy Works.

Chapter 6 is devoted to 20Th century advertising and personality dolls. These include The Chase Bag Co. whose 1st advertising doll was "The Jolly Green Giant", Miscellaneous Advertising Dolls, Personality Dolls, and Knickerbocker dolls like "The Campbell's Soup Kid."

Chapter 7 is devoted to doll artists of the 20Th century such as, Grace Dayton, Celia and Charoty Smith, Dorothy Heizer, Frances and Bernard Ravca, Dewees Cochran, Annalee Mobilitee Dolls, WPA Dolls, Dianne Dengel, R. John Wright, Xavier Roberts, and Current cloth Doll Artists - of which there are many pictures.

If you are a lover of cloth dolls in particular or "primitive dolls" then Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors) is a fascinating read and a must have for the serious cloth doll collector. I especially loved the section on Raggedy Ann and Andy as it contained several pages of information on the history of these dolls that I was not aware of before.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pat Winter's NEW Book

I have exciting news. A crafting friend of mine just published her first book on BLURB.com which is self-publishing website.

If you don't know what a self-publishing website is it is where you can actually create your own book just for yourself or create a book to be published to the general public. It's a terrific concept and one I'm thinking of looking into.

In any event Pat Winter is my crafting friend's name and the book she just published is called "Pat Winter's Gatherings - My Crazy Quilting Journey." It's a book about Pat's unbelievable crazy quilt creations.

Here's Blurb's description: This book takes you through the garden of the Author and into her world of crazy quilting. Florals in silk ribbon embroidery, beading, stitching encrust fabrics and bring them alive with elements of nature scattered throughout her work. Photos of her prize winning crazy quilt and numerous other works shown in full color are offered to inspire. She has sprinkled a few projects along the path in hopes to encourage the reader to try their hand at this beautiful Art of Crazy Quilting. www.patwintergatherings.com

Pat is also the creator of "The Comfort Doll Project" which I posted about on my Linda's Blog. If you'd like to read my post, just CLICK HERE for the article.

From what I understand Pat's book is already on the self-publishing best seller list. I'm not surprised. Pat is unbelievably gifted and talented.