Thursday, 18 October 2012

Book Review: Book Art by Clare Youngs

Book Art
Clare Youngs
Cico Books
ISBN 978 1 9081 70 92 7

First off, this is the ideal gift book for a papercrafter. As befits a book entitled “Book Art”, the book itself is a thing of beauty. Classy design – hard cover (cloth!), stitched binding. Lovely photography and thoughtful styling.  Most importantly, quality content. Thirty-five charming and inventive step-by-step projects to amuse and fascinate. Timely, too­­ - fits in nicely with the trend for papercutting. (Suggestion: give a book gift this Christmas as an e-book antidote.)

I can whole-heartedly – and guiltlessly – endorse Clare Youngs’ delightful new craft title, Book Art. I have to admit, the concept of using books as a craft material has – until now- made me cringe. The term “altered book” – guaranteed to make me tune out. Crafter – spare that book! Especially in the age of the e-book, books of the papery kind are sacrosanct, an endangered species. Clare Youngs addresses this mini moral dilemma immediately in her intro. She makes it clear that she respects books and that the books for her projects are ethically sourced – that is, they are worn out, damaged, or have out-lived their usefulness. She also points out that many of her projects can be constructed using old catalogues or magazines. So I’m OK with it now – and can see how the idea of book art fits perfectly into the eco-craft/up-cycled category. I’m ready and willing to re-purpose old books and (especially) catalogues and mags!

So many crafts these days –even, surprisingly, papercrafts – are dependent upon buying expensive papers, products, and embellishments. But you can make most of the projects in this book with little more than printed matter, scissors or craft knife – and glue. So an A* for thrift.

The projects in this book have a quirky, naive retro charm. The author is an ace at paper manipulation, so it is no surprise to learn that she has a background in packaging design. The step-by-step format and template-based designs make this an ideal book for beginners. The photocopiable templates, at the back of the book, are clearly labelled for enlargement. But there is also plenty of inspiration here for the more experienced papercrafter.

There is  variety in the techniques used – lots of papercutting (as you would expect), but also quilling, stamping, simple book binding, origami/kirigami, torn paper,  and papier-mâché.  Stationery ideas, homecrafts, kids crafts (to make for or with kids). All boxes ticked. There’s even a section on Animals (cute, but not too twee).  The use of colour in the projects is impressive, and this is perhaps, surprising in a book with this subject. 

Every project here is a winner. My favourites include the Pigeon Message Card (carrier pigeon with paper strip message band on leg) and the Owl and the Pussycat Pop-Up (all singing, all dancing 3-D amazing). This book is a celebration of papercrafting.