Monday, 2 December 2013

Book Review: Mini-Eco

MiniEco: a Craft Book

By Kate Lilley

Cicada Books

Paperback  £14.95

ISBN 978-19-08714-09-1

Star rating: ****

MiniEco is a mega-blogger (over 250,000 followers!). What makes Kate Lilley a star are her ingenious and quirky crafty ideas – many of  which are papercrafts , “her medium of choice”. She’s got bags of retro-funky style and a ginormous sense of fun. This is the book of the blog. It contains 31 choice projects,  many of which are papercrafts.

I’m a sucker for comeback success stories, and Kate Lilley’s is a great one. She has a degree in Fine Art, but found herself in web design to pay the rent. She says that she had a ten-year creative dry spell, which ended when she became a parent. Devising inexpensive, eco-conscious toys for her kids re-ignited her crafty inspiration. And her techie nous helped her to create an ace on-line presence. The triumph of transferable skills!
Pop-Up Pixel Cards: retro-winners!
Many of MiniEco’s trademark projects are inspired by 1980’s computer graphics. The Pop-Up Pixel Cards (pic above) are winners, inspired by “Space-Invader”-type computer images. The stair-step construction lends itself to the necessary papercutting. A very clever finishing touch is the Day-Glo backing paper, which gives the designs a screen-like “neon” glow.  The Dot Matrix Cards, super-graphic messages achieved with a long-reach paper punch, have the same retro 80’s feel.  And it is an idea which you can adapt yourself for other cards.  Another retro-typographic idea is the 3D 8-Bit Font, jumbo chunky cardboard letters which can be used to spell out messages. What I love about these is that the zig-zag pattern templates for the letters are things of beauty in their own right, before you assemble them into their final form.
Great Dodecahedrons: the gradient adds "glow".

Like me, MiniEco is a Fan of papercraft  guru Paul Jackson. She has absorbed the papercraft construction know-how put forth in his books (Folding Techniques for Designers,Structural Packaging) and come up with some super projects. Check out the Great Dodecahedron (pic above), a 3-D hanging decoration which can be made up in a gradient version,  templates downloadable from the MiniEco website. Sort of a cardstock Bucky Ball. There’s also a pleated Paper Lampshade – a very fashionable look. Similar lampshades are available expensively online - but if you are up for a fun (and challenging) bit of fancy folding, you can make Mini-Ecos pennywise design.

There are several projects inspired by facetted gems: 3-D Paper Gems and Spray-Painted Chalk Stencils (depicting gems). (I’ve done the gem thing myself:Jewel Boxes).

It is refreshing to see lots of geometrically-inspired projects. So many craft titles are aimed at the “girly” market – you know, hearts and flowers, ribbon and lace. Here, you will find many unisex ideas that can be made for or with the kids. (This is not a children’s craft book, although most of the projects have kid-appeal. Probably because the author is joyfully rediscovering many of the crafts she learned as a child: Spirograph Wrapping Paper, Lego Sign, a trio of macramé projects.)

This is a really hands-on book. For the non-papercraft projects, MiniEco is ready to use all sorts of craft techniques: Hama Bead Candle Holders, which are threaded together using a Peyote Stitch construction method. Other projects involve simple sewing – or some woodworking lite (drill and sandpaper).

Each project is given a star-rated skill level – a useful guide. Some have scannable QR codes, so you can zoom into online info (it would have been great for all projects to have this feature). Written step-by-steps are provided –  with how-to illustrations where required. This works fine. And there is a generous sprinkling of hints, tips, and extension ideas. 

This is a really good “taster” book- it does indeed capture the originality and spirit of the MiniEco blog - geek chic with a tweak. I wanted more – so I hope there’s a follow-up title to come.

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.