Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Be Inspired

I think there's something rather lovely about this time of year. We're coming out of the dark winter months, sunnier days are upon us, flowers are beginning to bloom and there seems to be so much to look forward to. With all this in mind I'm feeling rather inspired to start new projects and my thoughts have turned to three books that have been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be rediscovered. I think they're rather fabulous and thought I'd share them with you here in the hope that they might inspire you too.

I've become a bit of a fan of Yellow Owl Workshop's designs so I got very excited when I found out they've published a book - Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt (published by Potter Craft, £14.99, ISBN 978 03075 86544).

As the bit on the back says, "This is a book for low budgets and high ambition. Read it and you will learn how to put images of things on to other things". I think this book's rather fab. It's got all sorts in it, from design basics and a section on colour, to how to set up your studio for all sorts of printing projects. It looks really great too, with Yellow Owl Workshop's characteristically eye-catching style in abundance.

There are 30 projects to tempt you in this book and they're divided nicely into sections based on the type of printing that's involved - relief, stencil, sun and image transfer.

Bright colours and a good typeface are always winners as far as I'm concerned!

It's bursting at the seams with great imagery and I can't help feeling inspired just by picking it up! There's lots to read too, written in a friendly and often humorous way that makes you feel part of the Yellow Owl Workshop family.

I love the layout of this book. It's easy to find the list of materials for each project and the instructions are clear. It's also filled with useful diagrams and really clear photos of the projects when they're finished (always good, I think, so you can get a good idea of what you're aiming at). There are lots of templates at the end of the book too.

There's even a bit about the different effects you can get with watercolour paints. I always seem to make a mess of things whenever paint's involved and watercolour scares me a bit...but after seeing this I might just throw caution to the wind and have a go! Who says we have to create perfect works of art every time?!

As a novice in the world of printing, I found myself thinking I'd like to try lots of the projects in this book. It's written in a brilliantly straight forward way that makes me feel inspired and not daunted about trying something new.

I love vintage ephemera. I can't really explain why, but I'm drawn letters, stamps and bits of old scribbled on paper like a moth to a flame! For this reason alone I absolutely love Scraps by Elsebeth Gynther and Christine Clemmensen (published by Lark, £12.99, ISBN 978 16005 93864). It's a feast of inspiration for using all sorts of mixed media to create fabulous collages.

The pictures alone were enough to get me reaching for my box of vintage scraps and a tube of glue!

The book's divided into really useful sections, including 'Getting Started', 'Putting Things Together', 'Freeing your Inner Artist' and 'Working with Paper'. There are also a number of rather brilliant lists at the end of the book that can act as inspiration in case an artistic mental block has occurred but the desire to create something is still with you!

Not only are the images in Scraps inspiring, there's lots of useful tips and techniques in amongst its pages too. I really liked the section on 'Working with Paper' - everything from applying colour and what glues to use, to ideas for stamping, cutting, folding, lettering and image transfer.

There's even a section on 'First Aid for Collages in Distress'. That feeling of having just ruined something you've been working can be a heart-sinking moment so it's nice to know that all isn't always completely lost!

Books have always had a happy prescence in my life - I have fond memories from childhood of the hours spent seeking out gems in second hand bookshops, I've worked in publishing, I've always had shelves of treasured books of my own and my Dad is a very keen (and accomplished) bookbinder. So when I saw Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden I thought it would be a great excuse to try some book making for myself (published by Lark, £14.99, ISBN 978 16005 95875).

There are over 100 different bindings, structures and forms in this book so there's no shortage of ideas to tempt you!

There's a really good mix of technical (but easy-to-follow) instructions and diagrams, alongside eye-catching photos of the finished projects.

I showed this book to my Dad and he thought it was an excellent mix of traditional bookbinding/making techniques and artistic designs. He said it was a great way of getting artists into bookbinding and bookbinders into thinking outside of the traditional box (so there you have it, a review from someone who definitely knows what he's talking about!!)

As someone new to book making, I thought this was a very good section to have!

It's incredible what some people can do with paper, skill and imagination.

Although I do tend to prefer books that are more 'arty' and less technical, I have enjoyed using this book. As well as the projects, there's also lots to read about the different techniques so I learnt some intersting facts too!

With so many books to look through and be inspired by, it's a job to find the time to tear myself away from them and actually make something! Still, at least now I have lots of ideas. I hope you've been inspired too...go on, make yourself a cuppa, give yourself a little time off and indulge in some creativity!

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