Peppered with Hudgins's tips for "merrymaking the everyday" (using simple DIY ideas to live life more joyfully) plus inspirational photos of projects created by other prominent bloggers, Materially Crafted is an indispensable guide for a new generation of design enthusiasts looking to DIY their own distinctive style.
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Lifestyles: A reason to redecorate
Despite its subtitle, you don’t have to be outright fanatical to enjoy Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed. Author Victoria Hudgins is the founder of the popular lifestyle blog A Subtle Revelry. She knows her materials—plaster of Paris, paper, thread, metal, wood, spray paint and so on—and she lays out 30 projects that utilize each one. Concrete jumps out as something most of us haven’t tackled yet, but she shows that the mess is worth it for the payoff of her Backyard Fire Pit. My favorite is the Concrete Cake Stand: clean, industrial and a humorous contrast to the (hopefully) light crumb that sits atop. But don’t worry; there are plenty of tidier projects, such as Rolled Beeswax Tea Lights and Instant Pipe Candlesticks. And for the most dramatic room restyle, try the beautifully simple Hand-Painted Temporary Wallpaper. Hudgins will have you skipping to your nearest craft store in no time.
HANDS-ON ART HISTORY
Modern Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Artists from Monet to Banksy brings great art to life for kids ages 6 and up. The projects are laid out in chronological order through the major aesthetic movements from Impressionism to street art. A selection of popular masterworks are paired with narratives—a section titled “What’s the Story?” precedes each piece—and projects that are all-around kid-friendly. For example, the chapter devoted to Jackson Pollock’s “Lavender Mist” (a painting ironically devoid of any lavender paint) explains how Pollock nailed canvas to the floor and worked in a methodical way to create a piece that looks anything but methodical. Kids can create their own Pollock-inspired Drip a Picture project (mercifully sized for a table instead of the floor), which utilizes cups of paint swung from strings. Authors and educators Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw make sure the entire process is meaningful and fun, and the finished product is something a kid can be proud of.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
Award-winning architect Lester Walker’s American Homes: The Landmark Illustrated Encyclopedia of Domestic Architecture offers a stunning and definitive survey of homes from prehistoric times to the present day. Back in print for the first time since 2002, Walker’s chronologically ordered tome is as impressive as it is educational. Hundreds of styles of homes are paired with his delightful line drawings and annotated floor plans. Have you ever gone for a walk in your own neighborhood and wondered about its architectural patterns? Or have you questioned why some houses seem natural in their design and aesthetic proportions, while others seem to radiate ugliness and contempt for their environment? Walker’s magisterial knowledge will provide the clearest possible foundation for understanding what’s what and how each style came to be. American Homes clearly distinguishes between Tipi and Wigwam, Chalet and Colonial, while also showing the historical and structural differences between them all.