Monday, 17 December 2012

Book Reviews: Ruby Star Wrapping, Pop-Up Cards

Two craft titles today: 

Ruby Star Wrapping: Creative Packaging to Reuse, Regive & Relove

Melody Miller & Allison Tannery

Roost Books

ISBN 978159030995

£14.99 paperback

This title is slightly off-piste for a review in a papercraft blog, but I want to make amends for all the Scandinavian forests that I have been slicing and dicing in my digital paper cutter. As the title says, this is a book of eco-conscious wrapping ideas – brought to you by the team behind the wildly successful Sew, Mama, Sew blog. It contains a mix of projects, including papercrafts, but  – as you would expect – mostly sewing ideas.

The Introduction to the book is delightful. It tells of the Japanese approach to gift packaging, “this simple philosophy : a unique, charming presentation can be made from even the most unassuming objects.”  Even better if the packaging is made from re-purposed materials that can be used over and over again!

This book has lots of heart and it does have some lovely ideas – the box from a recycled gameboard, and the inside-out boxes, for example. Or the concept that the gift doesn’t necessarily have to be entirely concealed – just embellished (like the painted bowls for food packaging, or the trimmings made from felt balls). The recipes are a nice touch, too. I did find that some of the projects were a bit same-y and obvious (stick it in a drawstring sack!, re-cover a box!). The sewing skill level is pretty basic – great if you are a beginner.  (I note that the authors came to sewing relatively late.) Also, this is very much a hipster/craftster title, targeted at 30-somethings.

What I really admire about this book is how it encourages you to think – not only about how to recycle, but about fitting form to function. And about how low-fi forms of gift presentation can be highly effective – like adding a garland to a gift.

If giving this book as a gift, remember to eco-wrap it!

Note: I was given a review copy of this title.

Pop-Up Cards: 
Over 50 Designs for Cards That Fold, Flap, Spin, and Slide
Mari Kumada

Roost Books

ISBN 978-1-61180-004-3

£14.99 paperback

I greatly enjoyed Mari Kumada’s previous title, Creative Paper Cutting, so I was keen to take a look at this new offering. I was not disappointed. This book radiates sweetness and charm. The beautiful simplicity of the presentation and the content is irresistible. It is a translation of a Japanese title – so the expectation of quality papercrafting is very high. What you get is a prettily presented primer for making simple pop-ups and mechanical cards. Easy enough for beginners, but enough to fascinate the more experienced papercrafter. There are over 50 card designs, complete with step-by-step how-tos and full-size templates (that will make lots of people happy). All you need is a cutting implement, paper, and glue.

One of my favourite cards is “Special Delivery Present”, in which a dove unties the ribbon on a gift. I also particularly like the spinner cards, where you rotate the dial to create the special effect. There’s a psychedelic Dahlia with a whirling pattern and an Elephant balancing on a ball. Nice idea to combine the dial idea with cut-outs. I can’t recall seeing them elsewhere.

The book’s first section is a class on pop-up cards:  Horizontal Fold, Vertical Fold, V-Fold, Pop-up Coil Cards, Pop-Up Cone Cards, and Pop-Up Cube Cards. ( Very impressive that the last two sections are presented in a way accessible to beginners.) The book then continues with a selection of pop-up cards designed for special occasions and holidays. The third section of the book is about Cards that Move and Spin. That means Sliders, Cards that Flap, Cards that Spin (the dial cards), and Cards that Spring.

A special touch is that the author includes several of her own reflections – such as “My Favourite Pop-Up Card”. This really helps to personalize the book. You can tell it’s a labour of love. 

More experienced papercrafters may find some of the cards a bit basic. Just add your own bells and whistles. I prefer these cards to sing on their own.

Note: I was given a review copy of this title.