Lifestyles: Put a wreath on it
There are few better ways to celebrate the cycle of the seasons than through decorative wreaths. The Wreath Recipe Book inspires readers to design an array of living sculptures to hang on your wall, door or ceiling throughout the year—or, alternatively, to use the same ingredients to make arrangements for shelves and tables. As owners of a popular design company in San Francisco, authors Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo are ideal guides for launching year-round adventures in wreath making. Starting with suggested tools (wires, frames and cutters of every kind), they take you step-by-step through the building of any wreath using branches, stems, leaves and flowers with hundreds of pages of “recipes” for spring, summer, fall and winter—each holding in sweet suspension the fleeting pleasures of its particular season. My favorite set calls for a garland, vase or wreath of blackberry branches. These are the perfect projects to bring the season-by-season splendor of the outdoors into your home.
FORM AND FUNCTION
In just one little book, Susie Hodge has brought together the most impressive triumphs of commercial design spanning the last century and more. Her pint-sized When Design Really Works explains how success is a byproduct of the union between inspired design and plain old commercial appeal. Whether it’s a deceptively comfortable modernist chair or the Zippo cigarette lighter (which might kill you eventually, but at least you’ll die a well-designed death), these artifacts define the absolute harmony between art and commerce. Instead of names of items, the title of each section presents what the item stands for: “Elegance,” “Sinuousness,” “Grace,” “Poise,” “Extravagance,” etc., all under the larger rubric of “BEAUTY” (the first among 10 big ideas). I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many grandiose ideas crammed into such a compact volume. Believe it or not, LEGO® is all about compatibility and expression—a rather highbrow children’s toy, indeed. I just thought the bricks were fun to play with, but now I have a theoretical framework! This little book is such a nerdy treat.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
“We like working with everyday items.” That’s music to my ears. Oh, the clever beauties you craft in your own home, out of tea bags and tea towels and coffee beans; pillboxes and candy and weeds from the yard. Anything and everything is fair game in Make & Give: Simple and Modern Crafts to Brighten Every Day. Authors Steph Hung and Erin Jang lay out 35 projects with lists of cheap materials, simple instructions, great photos and helpful templates (along with the personal inspiration behind each project) that yield never fussy, always appealing and sometimes funny and sweet gifts: like the Secret Love Note Shirt with a message ironed on the inside, or the board games with pieces made of candy. Because each object is conceived as a present for a special someone—cards, prints, temporary tattoos, personal storybooks—each one is naturally a labor of love.
This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.