Saturday, 27 September 2014

Floragami, by Armin Taübner (book review)


Create Beautiful Flowers from Folded Paper

By Armin Taübner

Stackpole Books

Paperback, £11.99, $ 16.95 US, $19.50 Canada

ISBN 978-0-8117-1336-8

Link to Amazon:Floragami

Star rating: ***1/2

This title is an origami-take on the seemingly neverending paperflower love affair. It is a fun origami-crafting book with a modular kusudama origami approach. This book is not for origami purists – some cutting, gluing, plus the incorporation of additional materials such as bead embellishments, string, and florist’s stems – is required to assemble most of the projects. All of the designs are extremely attractive and have a clean, modern appearance –  while at the same time being playful fantasy flowers.

The title is aimed at the hobby crafter and is perhaps a little dumbed-down – not once is the term kusudama used, although it is pretty well-known in the papercraft world, even for those who are not origami aficionados. The layout of the book is a bit non-traditional in that the basic nitty-gritty how-to techniques and get-acquainted- with -your materials sections are back-of- book with the templates (for leaves and suchlike) – so you just dive into the projects, which are grouped into three sections: Single Flowers, Flower Spheres, and Fancy Flower Decorations. A small gripe: no metric measurements are provided.

Many of the projects are constructed using circular paper, including dedicated origami paper, fluted paper baking cases, and paper doilies. There’s plenty of variety in the projects, including flat-based flowers that can sit directly on a tabletop, hanging spheres, floating flower arrangements made of waterproof origami paper (would make a lovely centrepiece), and twinkly garlands illuminated with L.E.D.s (excellent for festive occasions). There’s good use of double-sided paper.

Some of the most striking projects are the simplest. Example: Adorable Snowdrops, a simple stemmed arrangement. There’s a Clever Flower Hanger in which the blossoms interlock in puzzle-like fashion (I almost always fall for innovative construction methods). There are also Christmas trees made of graduated star shape which are strung vertically. Many of the flower shapes would make attractive festive decs.

The step-by-step directions are clear, with how-to illustrations provided wherever necessary. All of the projects are labelled with difficulty level – but there’s nothing here that would fox a papercrafter of average experience.

Verdict: an attractive, accessible, giftable title.

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

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Curlicue Kinetic Origami, by Assia Brill - a new spin (book review)

Curlicue Kinetic Origami

By Assia Brill

Self-published, 2013, available on Amazon
Paperback £8.36

ISBN 978 1494234935

Star rating: *****

The Curlicue is a genius origami variation invented by Assia Brill in 2005. It is an outgrowth of those two-strip paperchains you may have made as a child – you know, where two strips of contrasting-coloured paper are folded together at right angles to produce a dimensional chain (help me out here – there’s a name for them – what are they called?...). Assia Brill’s eureka innovation is to use two tapering strips which are folded flat and twisted. The twisting mechanism produces fabulous kaleidoscopic op-art results.  Her design tweak is indeed a new spin on an existing technique. Wow factor!

Assia Brill says of the Curlicue in her intro, “It is a new type of moving or kinetic origami. You can rotate the Curlicue’s stacked layers to reveal fascinating, constantly-changing patterns of radiating stars and zigzag spirals.”

This self-published book is the author’s labour of love. It is a distillation of the formidable knowledge that she has garnered about her new technique. The book has excellent production values – the illustrations, photography, and book design are all of excellent professional standard. Throughout the book are kaleidoscopic photo galleries of twist variations. The book includes 20 original designs – curlicue squares, hexagons, rectangles, plus detailed how-tos for cutting the paper strips and folding the Curlicues. There are lots of helpful tips.

Assia Brill’s mind-boggling innovation makes her an origami pioneer. Her new technique has necessitated the coining of new origami terminology: a twist fix is an important new move, and a Valley Curve is a new origami configuration- both are specific to the Curlicue.

Curlicues have obvious geek-appeal. Although probably not for absolute origami novices, the models are archievable if you work carefully and follow the instructions to the letter. A degree of motivation is required because you are required to precisely cut-your-own paper strips.

My input: this fascinating new origami variation is catching on bigtime since the book's publication last November. Curlicues are here to stay. Why not offer commercially-available pre-cut Curlicue Strips?

The verdict: fascinating, fun, worth a try! A challenging new origami variation.

Note: I purchased my own copy of this title.

Watch this space for more origami book reviews. I was thinking of running an "Origami in October" strand - but I just couldn't wait!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

PaperCrafter Issue75... festive makes to make now!

Issue 75 of PaperCrafter Magazine is out now, featuring my Jingle Bells and Patchwork Stars (flat or puffy). Lovely designer papers, fun makes - time to get crafting!

Monday, 15 September 2014

50 Ribbon Rosettes and Bows to Make: Review

50 Ribbon Rosettes and Bows to Make

For perfectly wrapped gifts, gorgeous hair slides, beautiful corsages and decorative fun

By Deanna Csomo McCool

Search Press 2014
Paperback, £10.99

ISBN 978-1-78221-200-3

Star rating: ****

The autumn craft-a-lanche of pre-Christmas craft titles has arrived. There’s so much quality stuff to choose from, it’s difficult to decide which title to feature...

Today’s spotlight is on a fun and useful ribboncraft title. My logic is that you can keep it in mind when visiting the autumn batch of consumer craft events – go shopping with particular projects in mind so you can selectively stock up on your ribbon stash.

This book is exclusively about textile ribbon techniques – no look-in for paper ribbons or giftwrap ribbons (such as curling ribbon). Having said that, textile bows make fabulous embellishments for papercraft projects, particularly giftwrap treatments –  the author is aware of this and gives it a mention, citing project suitability for papercraft designs where appropriate (example: #30 Round and Round Bow – a fan-shaped creation).

Clip-mounted hair bows and embellished hairbands are a particular strength of this book, not surprising, since the author’s ribboncraft credentials stem from her highly-successful hair bow business. There are good tips for attaching bows to clips and for customizing plastic hairbands. You will also find pew bows (if wedding decs are on your personal agenda), and stemmed flowers and leaves – great for home dec. One of my favourite bows is #12, The Two-Colour Twisted Boutique Bow, a nifty party trick – one bow, diff colour each side.

A pictorial gallery of bows is featured up front – your select-a-bow guide. Each bow is accompanied by clearly-drawn step-by-step illustrations and detailed how-tos. Required ribbon widths and quanities are provided for each bow design. Although this book is most suitable for bowcraft beginners, even those more experienced in ribboncraft are sure to pick up a few new tips and techniques. 

The bows featured in this book are ideal for production crafts, if you are thinking about making gifts- to-give or participating in a pre-Christmas craft fair. 

Since my blog is The Papercraft Post, here’s a list of bows in the book that could be adapted to papercraft versions (using paper ribbon or hand-cut paper strips) without too much tweaking (in no particular order): #44 Aster, #26 Straight Loop Bow, #35 Whimsy Flower, #1 Shoelace Bow, #4 Bow Tie, #33 Finnish Snowflake, #34 Latticed Snowflake.

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

Friday, 12 September 2014

Paper Flowers, by Denise Brown

Paper Flowers

35 beautiful step-by-step projects

By Denise Brown

Cico Books, September 2014

Paperback, £12.99

Star rating: ****

Yes, another paper flower book – everybody’s jumping on the paper flower bandwagon. Don’t pass this one by though – it’s a winner.

The author, Denise Brown, is not a stickler for horticultural authenticity. Inspiration – not imitation –  is the name of the game.  Although most of her creations could not quite be categorized as fantasy flowers, she does take lots of creative license with her designs. This approach works a treat, and the flowers in this book have personality-plus. The flowers are cheerful – very giftable, or suitable for home decor.

My favourite aspect of the book is its variety in the choice of papery materials and crafting techniques, selections dictated by the flower form that is to be achieved. You will find flowers made out of cupcake liners (anemones), tracing paper (dandelion clocks, honesty seed head), pearlised quilling paper (hyacinths), and coffee filters, as well as those made from more conventional paper flower-making materials, such as crepe- and tissue paper. The author appreciates the value of double-sided paper (Origami Flowers).

The skill level of the book is accessible to all, with lots of fun techniques to keep you interested. Fringing, shaping, layering, colouring.  In addition to the flowers, there are some delightful paper-cut seed packets.

The book is divided into three categories Simple Yet Stunning, Bright and Beautiful, and Sophisticated Style. Well-drawn step-by-step illustrations accompany each design, along with thorough how-tos. Full-sized pattern templates are provided back-of-book.

Scottish readers: the crepe paper Thistle Head may come in very handy.

So, for a paper flower book that focuses on fun, this could be the one for you.  Many of the projects have kid-appeal, and would be suitable as a “together” crafting project.

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