Thursday, 22 June 2017

Pillow Box Beach Tote

Here's a cheery seasonal project. The mini-tote makes an ideal bon voyage gift when filled with a small treat. The construction is one-piece, and there's a bit of fun raffia-lacing to do.

Here's your free design file:

Use an embossing tool to mark the cut-out pattern piece. Score around the boat-shaped base piece. Also score the tote side turn-backs. Crease the scored lines, paying special attention to the banana-shaped base.

Cut a piece of raffia bout 50cm (20in) long. It is scrunched up (raffia is like that!). Open out the raffia and cut it in half lengthwise. Thread one half into a tapestry needle. Knot the end. Draw it through the hole on the top left (knot on underside). Wrap the raffia around and under each spoke, pulling taut as you go. When you get to the end of the row, run the raffia under the side, then continue on the bottom row of spokes in the opposite direction. Knot the end of the raffia on the underside. 

Apply 3mm(1/8in) double-sided tape to the basket sides. Carefully join front to back, matching edges. Tie a raffia bow at top, using a piece of leftover raffia from the other half of the cutting.

Happy summer. :)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

How to Draw Type and Influence People, by Sarah Hyndman. Review.

An Activity Book

By Sarah Hyndman

Laurence King Publishing 2017

Paperback, £12.99

Star rating: ****

This is a hands-on exploration of the psychology of typography with a high fun factor. It is an interactive learning experience (not to be confused with a colouring book)! :) The author, Sarah Hyndman, is a graphic designer and public speaker (check out her fab  TEDx talk on YouTube). The purpose of  the exercises in the book are to put the user in touch with how type style can influence opinion and intrigue the viewer – the goal: unleashing the power of typeface literacy. Actually drawing a typeface provides an understanding of its construction and suitability of purpose. A happy coincidence is that drawing type is a skill many papercrafters aspire to acquire!

Fun exercises include Font Sniffing – describing the scent a particular typeface evokes, Font Personalities (serifs = knowledgeable, Sans serifs = informative and easy going). There’s a super-fun chapter on Wild West Fonts (recognizable by their slab serifs and catchwords – groups of words offset by decorative flourishes which were set on a single printing block). Another exercise has fun with futuristic typefaces (there’s a sci-fi font gallery). Design your own monogram and ligatures (joined letters – like the ampersand). 

At the back of the book is some handy info – a Visual Type Glossary (type anatomy and terms), plus a bibliography – so you can continue on your journey.

This book would make a super gift for just about anybody who wishes to learn about the power of type. It would be ideal choice for an older child with an inkling of an interest in graphic design.  Learning the lessons within can make for more effective visual communication skills, be it on a blog or in your own personal  communication and creative endeavours.

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

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.