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Book Review: Embellishing with Anything

Today I am reviewing a book that has boosted my crafting confidence and creativity just by reading it! I’m on the road to Arizona, currently about an hour north of Salt Lake City, UT typing in the car in the dark. I knew I was making this trip, and gave some serious thought to choosing creative activities I could bring along, and what I could write about. This book review was one idea and lucky for me, Sam approved the idea ;) Unfortunately, I don’t have photos today!

“Embellishing with Anything, Fiber Art Techniques for Quilts – ATCs, Postcards, Wallhangings & More” by Gladys Love, copyright 2009, is a book that I’ve had for about a year without diving into its content deeply enough to truly appreciate it.  This was a great opportunity to enjoy it, and I’m so glad I chose it for this review! Take a look for yourself here.

This book is geared toward the fiber/fabric crafter, which I really want to be! It introduces both techniques and products, and even though it was published 3 years ago, I saw products I wasn’t familiar with. For example, I know there is clear vinyl yardage available, but she mentions a specific one and tells why she and her fiber artist friends like it. There is a chapter on Techniques which manages to be brief but very eye opening, one just for Fabric Beads which actually makes me want to make some, a chapter titled “Ephemera from Everywhere” (collectors of Stuff, beware!) and then a well done chapter of Projects.

There’s just something about the way the examples are explained, and the supplies and tools are discussed, that sets this book apart. The author explains each project in enough detail that you could recreate it, but the explanations are short and easy to understand. I came away from the page feeling that I could follow her instructions but still create something that was my own work. She gives plenty of tips, set apart with distinct color and titles on the page so you can easily find them, but not be distracted by the info if you didn’t need the tip.

In the Projects chapter, there are tags, journal covers, wallhangings and more which bring together multiple techniques. Many of the components you recognize, as they have been used earlier in the book to demonstrate techniques. That means these more complex projects feel manageable from the start!

The author talks a lot about ATCs, Artist Trading Cards, a 2 ½” x 3 ½” format meant to be inexpensive, quick, and something you swap with other artists/crafters as a representation of your work. The small format lets you focus on just one or two techniques, and it would be a great way to try out new ones. But really, when I experiment with something for the first time I’m probably not going to be willing to let anyone else see it, much less have it!

However, I like the idea she has of making these ATCs two or 3 at a time. For her, she gets to keep one and trade the others which are all unique. For myself, I can imagine the first one would be something I would throw away, the second would turn out better, and the third would show my increasing skill and confidence! It would make it easy to concentrate on one technique at a time, too.

I’m so glad I had the reason to sit down and look seriously at this book! The photography shows off the projects and instructions beautifully, and the projects themselves are beautiful. I feel motivated and excited to try new techniques from this book on small projects, which is such a relief when I look at all the amazing fiber art out there – how can a beginner even get started? I, for one, will get started with the help of this book!


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