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Archive for the ‘Arts & Crafts’ Category

Artful sleuthing

by Candice on December 7th, 2010
Artful sleuthing Cover Image

I’m just about finished reading The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds and Finds, and the Search for Lost Treasures by Philip Mould. The author is the host of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and also runs a showroom in London that specializes in British portraiture, among other things. Throughout his career, he’s had many encounters with obvious works of art; somewhat more interesting to the general public, however, are the times when he’s found a hidden gem, a carefully disguised fake, or an outright amazing piece of art in an unusual location. He recounts several of these in his book, in quick but detailed and thorough chapters that make for some nice, very interesting reading.

Two of my favorites: the middle-aged American collector (hoarder might be a better term) who has a hundreds of items stored pretty haphazardly in an unused church, one of which happens to be a work by Hogarth; and a full portrait of Queen Elizabeth (the first one, that is) that, once several layers of “repair” paint are removed, reveals itself to have been painted before she was made Queen, which is very rare indeed. In addition to the works of art, Mould profiles some of the individuals engaged in the various processes related to his work: buyers, researchers, restorers, experts, etc.

Of course, he also talks a bit about himself and his primary business partner, and part of the energy of this book comes from him relaying the excitement, doubt and nervousness that accompanies spending loads of money of a work of art that you are almost positive is something special, but you won’t know until you buy it and start taking it apart a bit. Sometimes it’s only thousands of dollars, sometimes it’s millions, but it’s always a risk. With Mould’s book you get to feel a little of the excitement, without the expense.

Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty

by Andrea on August 10th, 2010
Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty Cover Image

Love this adorable embroidery book!

Crafts long ignored continue to experience revivals and Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty: Projects and Patterns to Create and Embellish fits the bill perfectly for children (and adults) wanting to get started.  Simple patterns, great photos and diagrams, clear instructions for both stitches and projects! A real strength is the easy-to-trace templates and instructions for transferring the patterns to fabric. The patterns and projects are quite trendy, but in the best possible way. The content is solid while the book’s design will attract readers. Helen Dardik’s written a winner for a needlecraft that’s making a comeback. The publisher, Walter Foster, totes this as the first in a series, but provides no indication of what we can look forward to next.

In addition, check out Dardik’s website, One Lucky Helen, and blog, orange you lucky! are fun spots for all sorts of inspiration.

Nonfiction for Novel Readers

by Heidi on February 19th, 2010
Nonfiction for Novel Readers Cover Image

Provenance:  How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo.

Provenance is the true story of John Drewe, a con man who entangled innocent friends, strangers, an impoverished painter, and art dealers, museums and archivists in his art fraud crimes.  The story reads like good detective fiction:  I quickly was invested in the characters and couldn’t wait to learn what happened next.  Even though you know from the beginning of the book that Drewe is the culprit, there is a good deal of suspense as you see him yet again slipping through the fingers of the law and the members of the art world who are beginning to catch on to him.

The reader learns much along the way about art auctions, museums and their archives.  Art forgeries are nothing new and may be more common than most people think.  What made Drewe’s crimes so insidious, though, was his corruption of archival histories to establish fraudulent provenance of the forgeries he was trafficking.

Unlike most fictional detective stories, the ending of this story is not so tidy.  In the epilogue, the authors provide satisfying summaries of where these real-life characters are in the years after Drewe’s trial and conviction.  Disturbingly, however, we learn that John Drewe–thief, pathological liar and possibly a murderer–is free on the streets again.

Armchair Architecture

by Heidi on February 2nd, 2010
Armchair Architecture Cover Image

Heavenly Vaults:  From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture by David Stephenson takes you on a journey through medieval churches, basilicas and cathedrals in England, France, Spain, Italy, and other European countries.

The photography by Stephenson is stunning.  You will recognize the perspective immediately if you have ever wandered through an old cathedral with your head tipped back, staring straight up at the arching stonework overhead.  The sense of height captured in the pictures is remarkable, and the photos are cropped to give a sense of perfect geometry and balance.

This is coffee table sized book, with a single photo filling each page.  Often the side-by-side pages are pictures from the same church:  one showing the nave, the other showing the crossing, for instance.  The images of the stonework, painted designs and stained glass of these vaulted ceilings are kaleidoscopic as you turn the pages.

The text is at the back of the book, where you will find a history of the construction techniques of these ancient churches.  There are thumbnail photos and page numbers there, to send you back to the original picture.

The photographer has captured the awe-inspiring beauty of these grand structures and allows us, in his words, to see “the great Gothic churches as some of the most compelling art ever produced, still capable of providing an all-encompassing transcendent experience.”  Direct from the comfort of your armchair.

Let It Bleed

by John on January 8th, 2010
Let It Bleed Cover Image

Mention the Rolling Stones tour of 1969, and all anyone remembers is the Altamont disaster, the death knell of the sixties, the end of the dream, blah, blah, blah.  I saw the Stones in Chicago two weeks before Altamont, I’m here to testify it was one hellacious show.  Want proof?

The live album from that tour, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out, has been remastered with bonus material.  Previously too muddy to listen to, the new version is much clearer.  Five additional songs are added (both on CD and DVD), including Satisfaction, the sine qua non of a Stones set.  Opening sets by BB King and Ike and Tina Turner make up another disc.  Good stuff, tho Chuck Berry and Terry Reid (who turned down a spot in Led Zeppelin) opened the Chicago show.

The library’s new version of Gimme Shelter, the Maysles brothers famous documentary about Altamont, includes outtakes from the Madison Square Garden shows, which show how powerful the band was at that time.  They were midway thru their winning streak with the consecutive releases of Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main StreetBrian Jones was dead, and the new kid Mick Taylor gave the band the kick it had been missing since Jones began fading away.  (Hanging out with Keith is dangerous.  Taylor had to leave the band later on, and ended up selling his gold records to buy heroin.)

Finally, a new photo book documents the tour. Let It Bleed gives Ethan Russell’s fine shots the coffee table treatment.  Notice Mick’s black  jumpsuit with the omega (symbolizing  both the end and resistence).  That meant a lot to me, as Dad had bought me a letter jacket  for Christmas of my freshman year of high school.  I never did letter in any sport, so I filled the space with a big omega in school colors.  Mick’s costume seemed to validate this.

Made from Scratch

by Heidi on December 7th, 2009
Made from Scratch Cover Image

Made From Scratch is a story about the author, Jenna, and her desire to do more things for herself–things such as growing and preparing her own food, making her own clothes, and creating her own music.  She teaches herself about homesteading, and plunges in when she relocates to northern Idaho.

This is not a hippie commune in the backwoods—Jenna is a 26 year-old who is commuting five miles into the city to work at a graphic design job in a large corporation.  She stresses that you do not need a farm to be more self-sufficient, and she presents ideas for urban gardens, chickens in town and even beehives on apartment house roofs.

After a series of missteps and some just plain bad luck (think bears), Jenna establishes raised bed gardens, a bee hive, keeps angora rabbits and harvests their fur for knitting, and gathers eggs from her chickens. One of my favorite parts is her chapter on stocking a kitchen with treasures from second-hand shops and antique stores.

This is a fresh, young voice who shows that living a more sustainable lifestyle is possible and also is fun.  She presents many resources for further study:  books that have been invaluable to her, websites, seed catalogs, etc.  And several times she reminds her readers of the vast resources at their public library.  Since she wrote this book, she has moved to Vermont but continues her made-from-scratch adventures:   follow her on her blog at

Sometimes an awful book is just what you need

by Andrea on July 23rd, 2009
Sometimes an awful book is just what you need Cover Image

Some books age well. Some book covers are timeless. Others, not so much. Just like we all look at clothing we wore years ago and can’t believe we thought we looked smashing in it, so it goes with book covers. There really have been some dreadful ones over the years. Their current value lies primarily in their ability to give one the giggles. A couple of librarians from the Salem-South Lyon District Library dedicate a whole blog, Awful Library Books, to these treasures.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view , you can’t find most of the gems they’ve highlighted, such as Bert Bacharach’s Book For Men: Stag Lines for Men for Every Occasion, at Home or Abroad, at the Iowa City Public Library. One we do own is Do-it-yourself Coffins for Pets and People by Dale Power.  Probably because it really does fit in well with the ECO Iowa City initiative the Library is involved with. Especially with its suggestion for using your hand-built coffin as a coffeetable and to store extra blankets and pillows. Remember, there is no shortage of ideas for reducing, reusing, and recycling at the library. And if some of the ideas make you laugh, don’t worry. It won’t harm the environment- and they still might be worth considering!

Amy Sedaris is my idol.

by Beth on June 4th, 2009
Amy Sedaris is my idol. Cover Image

Amy Sedaris wrote a book just for me!!

Well, ok.. she didn’t write it JUST for me, but this book is my new guide to life!

I Like You: hospitality under the influence by Amy Sedaris is almost impossible to classify.  Technically is supposed to be a guide to entertaining.  But it’s also a cookbook (with over 100 recipes), a guide to parties and social occasions (from entertaining in-laws to blind dates),  and so much more.

In case you’re wondering just who Amy Sedaris is, or why that name sounds familiar, then either you know of her older brother David, or you’ve seen her on Comedy Central or in movies like School of Rock.  Look her up on Wikipedia they”ll tell you shes and actress, comedienne and and author.

So why is “I Like You: hospitality under the influence” such a great book?

Where else can you find gift wrapping ideas, a variety of mixed drink recipes, menu ideas for dinner for one, multiple recipes for pie crusts, a guide to the right hairstyle for your face shape, a photo essay on putting on pantyhose (as well as uses for old ones), and silly craft ideas for all ages, just to name a few.   Every page in this book is a delight.

Now if you like your books neatly organized with lots of white space and outlines and things, this book will probably hurt your eyes.  It does have chapters – sort of. And an index – kind of.  But it reads more like some eclectic person’s journal.  Someone who doodles a lot and has ADHD.

To me, that’s at least half the fun. But then, like I said, she wrote this book just for me, and I’m getting my very own personal copy (and a stack of little post-its to mark specific pages!)   But the library has a copy you call all fight over.

My girl wants to party all the time…

by Candice on September 3rd, 2008
My girl wants to party all the time… Cover Image

The Information department here at the Library has had a few birthdays recently, and while we didn’t have a party for them, I think we should start (in November, perhaps, when all the really good birthdays are!). I’m terrible at planning parties, though: how many people do I invite? what kind of treats should I serve? Is spin-the-bottle the appropriate game? Luckily, we have a few birthday party books, in the 793.21 area on the second floor. While you’re at it, go ahead and make up a birthday card or two (745.594), and of course, a birthday cake (641.8653). 

And, if you want extra-good reference service, stop by and wish Todd, Anne and Kathy a happy belated birthday!

The World of Toy & Pop-up Books

by Debb Green on July 15th, 2008
The World of Toy & Pop-up Books Cover Image

Toy and pop-up titles are favorite picture books that young children enjoy and treasure. They read and manipulate the movable pages and illustrations over and over again, never tiring of them. Older kids and teens are fascinated too by paper engineering and enjoy how-to books on making these paper creations. Here are a few good toy and pop-up artists and books too good to miss:

Gallop! by first time author/illustrator Rufus Butler Seder is a stunning and unique picture book that won a 2008 Caldecott Honor from the American Library Association. The artist has patented his ingenious new illustration style as “Scanimation Technology.”  It uses a combination of striped acetate overlays on a page with with drawn animal shapes. By moving a hidden tab, the illustration jumps to life and the reader sees how the animal really moves. This looks much like the early kinetoscopes as well as stop motion photography experiments made famous by Eadward Muybridge in the 1870′s (esp. “The Horse In Motion”.)

The illustrator Robert Sabuda, and his frequent co-designer Matthew Reinhart, are transforming the world of children’s books with their beautiful pop-up works. Each year they come out with at least one new title (this year’s will be Encyclopedia Mythologica: Fairies and Magical Creatures and Peter Pan.) Two of my favorites are their adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Alice book features double-page spreads with large and small pop-ups done in various techniques plus a Victorian “peep show”, and the book ends when a deck of cards literally pops off the page! The Oz book is similar and includes a real spinning tornado, wearable emerald spectacles, and a hot-air balloon that lifts up and waves in the air. To find out more, visit his website at

David A. Carter is the creator of forty plus children’s pop-up and toy books, many about fantastic bugs and animals. Besides children’s works, his The Elements of
Pop-Up: A Pop-Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers
is a definitive work on
the art for older kids and above. It includes history, pop-up examples of
designs, and photo directions. For more detail, visit his website at

Some authors write only how-to books on the subject. Joan Irvine’s How To Make Pop-Ups and How to Make Super Pop-Ups work well with youngsters, as does Pop-O-Mania by Barbara Valenta. Paul Jackson’s The Pop-Up Book is more detailed and aimed at teens while there are complex pop-up designing works written by Masahiro Chatani for adults.

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