Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Origami Garden, by Mark Bolitho. Review.

By Mark Bolitho
Jacqui Small, May 2017
Paperback (includes pack of double-sided origami papers), 
£14.99 UK/US $19.99/CAN 29.99

ISBN 978-1-911127-10-9

Star rating: *****

The publication of this delightful title just happens to coincide serendipitously, with The RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We can all appreciate the horticultural glories on display – but not all of us have green fingers (or thumbs, as the case may be). Some of us express ourselves creatively by papercrafting – and The Origami Garden is an appropriate, perfectly-timed treat for us.

The book is being pitched as a mindfulness activity, origami joining the mindfulness bandwagon – which, of course, any involving craft you can lose yourself in qualifies for. Calm sounds good. And origami is much more mentally engaging than colouring!

So – what’s in the book? Splendid, fun, imaginative 3-D designs, well thought out and made up in suitable papers (which are handily provided inside back cover). The models are divided into four themed sections –  Seeds and Plants, Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables, and Garden Life.  So, plenty of variety. There’s a Seedling  in a Pot (including  origami “soil”), Nuts in a Bowl, various flower blossoms, a delightful pleated Palm Leaf, trendily genius flowering Cactus in a Pot, and a cleverly constructed freestanding Pine Tree. There’s a Mushroom, Pear, and an appealingly puffy Tomato. A Butterfly, Frog, Bird, and a perky Snail. Many of these projects would be suitable for gift presentation – or as giftwrap embellishments.

Each project is star-system rated for complexity. Each is accompanied by detailed step-by-step line drawings, including directional arrows and indication of paper side. These are clearly accompanied by text.

The author, Mark Bolitho, has been a long-time member of the British Origami Society, a former Chairman. Having retired from his day job, he has forged an exciting second career as an origami creative. He is a prolific origami author and design  consultant. Now that’s living the dream! Congrats.

Glad to hear that Mark Bolitho has more themed origami books in the pipeline. I look forward to seeing them.

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Gingham Pocket

This is a quickie project - a cute gingham pocket that makes a sweet card enclosure, topper, or party favour. The purpose of my doing it is to suss out Silhouette Studio 4 (it seems very intuitive) and how to post make-it project links to you.

The pocket has accordion-pleated sides - the folds are indicated by the coloured-areas on the template:
Easy-peasy. You can add the reinforcements to the right or flip sides - your call.

Here are your free patterns:

Hope this works. Sil studio seemed to want to save in Studio 3- probably for the best as you may not have upgraded to Studio 4 yet.

Anyhow - hope this clears the way for more makes in future! Enjoy. A tisket, a tasket - a folded gingham basket (paper variety).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Origami Animal Friends, by Mari Ono. Review.

Fold 35 of your favourite cat, dogs, rabbits, and more
By Mari Ono
Cico Books 2017
Paperback (includes 50 sheets of origami paper) £12.99 UK/ $19.95 US/$23.95 CAN

ISBN 978-1-78249-422-5

Star rating: *****

This delightful origami book, by expert Mari Ono (with an assist from her artist husband), could be the makings of a very special half-term “together” activity. The book provides 35 cute animal models – and a pack of printed origami papers specially engineered to fit. Such a very good idea. The models really come to life enhanced by the custom-designed papers. (I love engineered prints – they are a design sweet spot – decoration strategically placed to enhance form.) The papers are designed by Mari Ono’s husband, a graphic artist. They make a great team. 

The book’s intro provides a capsule history of the Japanese origami tradition. A nice opener to set the tone.

The book is divided into four sections: In the House, In the Garden, On the Farm, and In the Wild. Representatives of the animal kingdom include an adorable Scottish Terrier, a cuddly Hamster, a fun Hedgehog, a Parrot, a Pigeon, a Peacock, an Angel Fish, a puffy Blow Fish, a Hermit Crab and the sweet cover bunnies. 

The projects are photographed in imaginative, colourful papercraft landscapes, and are accompanied by detailed step-by-step how-tos. The photos have superimposed directional fold lines and are accompanied by instructional text. Each project has a transliterated Japanese name with its English counterpart. 

The papers are packaged in a durable plastic wallet inside the back cover. (I probably shouldn’t say this, but an obvious thing would be to scan/and or photocopy all the papers before making the models so that you can make repeats – as you are sure to want to do.) Many of the models would be recognizable when made up in just-plain origami paper, or they could be enhanced with hand-drawn details.

More please! This idea has legs. I hope that further origami projects with engineered papers are in the pipeline. Christmas makes would be an obvious choice.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations, by Livia Cetti. Review.

Playing with size, shape, and colour to create spectacular paper arrangements
By Livia Cetti, photographs by Kate Mathis
Abrams 2017
Paperback £14.99/$24.95 US/$29.95 CAN
ISBN 978-1-4197-2412-1

Star rating: *****

Paper flower artiste Livia Cetti has set a new standard for paper flower perfection. Her staggeringly realistic paper blooms are indeed exquisite. This new book is the companion volume to Exquisite Paper Flowers, which came out three years ago. The new book adds 25 new flowers to the repertoire, and then gives suggestions on creating arrangements.

Livia Cetti categorizes her flowers by shape: Globe, Saucer, Cone, Rectangle, Bell, Arc, and Spike. You create an arrangement by balancing the shapes. Globes include Allium, Eden Rose, Hydrangea and Rhodendron. Saucers: Cornflower, Desert Rose, Hellebore. Bells: Crocus, Narcissus, Paperwhite. Arc: Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle. Spike: Coleus, Delphinium ... to give you a taster of what is in store.

The subtle coloration of the flowers is achieved by painting white crepe paper with fabric dye. The petals have a tie-dye appearance. Textured paper (Canson) is used for the leaves. The flowers are assembled using standard floristry materials: stretchy florist’s tape, wire stems. Each flower has detailed step-by-steps.Text is accompanied by numbered photos. Templates for the flower petals and leaves are provided back-of-book.

Once basic competence is achieved, the author encourages the maker to play with scale and colour. Example: super-sized Lily of the Valley. It works a treat! 

The 15 projects include ideas for wreaths, bouquets, and imaginative display techniques. 

This is a large format book with lavish production values.The photography is superb, and the graphic design admirable.The chat at the beginning of each project is welcoming – Livia Cetti welcomes the reader with experiences from her professional life as a superstar paper flower creative. 

So – if your preferred paper flower style is realistic rather than stylized, this book (and the author’s previous title) are your go-to resources.

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

Friday, 28 April 2017

Paper Quilling, by Elizabeth Moad. Review.

All the skills you need to make 20 beautiful projects

By Elizabeth Moad

Search Press 2017

Paperback UK £9.99/US $15.95

ISBN 978-1-78221-425-0

Star rating: *****

Quilling is papercrafter Elizabeth Moad’s area of expertise – and her brand new book of projects for newbies has lots of verve and variety. The 20 projects have a fresh, contemporary feel – they let the lace-like swirls and arabesques of the quilled shapes take centre stage, while avoiding decorative overload.

You will learn how to make and shape quilled coils, how to fashion mini-roses by twisting and turning quilling strips, and you will learn husking – how to form decorative loops of quilling paper by guiding the strips around strategically-placed pins in a foam board. Fringed quilling is also featured - this involves the use of a fringing gadget, probably the most expensive bit of kit in the quiller’s craft box (the rest of the quilling supplies are low-budget) the result: ever-popular fringed flowers – real showstoppers. Another clever technique is illustrated in the Wreath Card, in which a Border Buddy ™ tool, a shaped plastic support, is used to create a free-wheeling, Catherine-wheel effect. 

Elizabeth’s clever use of materials and innovative techniques include using decorative edging scissors to add interest to a quilling strip: result – rolled cone flowers. Flower motifs predominate because the organic curves of quilled forms lend themselves to natural shapes. There’s also a super-cute owl motif. The author knows just how to tweak her designs to add interest – a well-placed curl here, a bit of 3-D shaping there. Embellishments are kept to a minimum – for max effect – a ribbon here, a well-placed bead, a bit of stitching. 

Projects include an Anniversary Gift Bag using a crimping tool, ridged cogs that create crinkled ridges in the quilling strips, and Hanging Decorations, 3-D stars, made using a quilling comb – loop the strips around the prongs. Nice how the projects are used to highlight the use of a particular tool or technique, focusing on just one new skill per project.

It might have been nice to see some quilled typography – a pleasing trend that’s been very big recently. I suppose gluing the quilling strips on-end  to outline the letters was deemed too tricky a technique for beginner’s to attempt. 

The Table of Contents acts as a picture gallery of the projects, chapter headings are Cycle of Life, Big Days, Festive Fun, and Family Moments. Step-by-step photos and text accompany each project. Upfront, you’ve got a capsule History of Quilling, a rundown of tools and materials, plus basic how-tos. 

Paper Quilling is the companion volume to Elizabeth Moad’s Paper Folded Flowers, which I reviewed in my previous blogpost

With this book and a few simple quilling supplies, you could easily learn a new creative skill over the bank holiday.

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