We have a good selection of craft books at the library, and every year, many additional books on crafts are published. Our patrons love these books. I enjoy browsing through craft "eye candy," looking at the projects, wondering if I could create something that's remotely close to the depicted example. Sometimes I attempt one of the projects from the book. Rarely do I come back to a given craft book more than a few times. I return the book, and let someone else have a turn at perusing it.
However, there are a few craft books that are keepers, books that I own because they are so useful and because they are beautiful in their own right. Beryl Taylor's first book, "Mixed Media Explorations" is that type of book.
First, the book is packed with plenty of information. Sometimes, authors come up with lukewarm projects and ideas just to sell another book. That is not the case here. This first book of hers is bursting to the brim with content.
Second, she demonstrates a variety of techniques. These techniques include bookbinding and incorporating simple stitches into her work. I learned how to make fabric paper — using tissue, fabric and paint — leading to a really cool material. I also learned to incorporate puff paints in a tasteful manner — not something that looked ridiculously juvenile.
Third, the projects are achievable. Often, you will see a new project to try out or a new technique only to have the first several versions be worthy of the old Regretsy (a site that used to display craft and bake failures). She does offer concrete projects. While I dislike projects that leave no room for creativity, her projects left lots of room for experimentation and interpretation.
Last, the projects and artwork displayed in the full-color pages are beautiful. Her style has been described as a blend of Victoriana and Steampunk. Her colors tend toward romantic pastels that deepen into more intense shades of magenta, plum and merlot — the Victoriana. Her compositions start with simple motifs added together to form an intricate whole. Overall, this is a delightful book to check out at least once.
Kira Michaelieu leads some of the craft programs for adults at Missouri River Regional Library.