Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

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 A while ago my late Mother’s sewing machine blew up, I invested in a new one and wanted to start making bags. After a search on dear old Amazon, I discovered and quickly purchased the book I will be reviewing today;

Sew What! Bags

Title: Sew What! Bags

18 Pattern free Projects you can cusomize to fit your needs

Author: Lexie Barnes

Publisher: Storey Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-60342-092-1

Reason for Buying

Having just bought the new sewing machine, I was all excited and knew that I wanted to make bags but with no previous experience, I needed a book that would take me from day one absolute basics.


Chapter 1; How to Use this book

Chapter 2; Sewing Basics

Chapter 3; Warm Up Projects

  • Eyeglasses Case
  • Tissue Pouch
  • Grocery Bag Tube
  • Map Sack
  • Zippered Wristlet

Chapter 4: Totes

  • Tiny Tote
  • Reversible Tote
  • Tool Tote

Chapter 5: Drawstring Sacks

  • Ditty Bag
  • Back Pack
  • Sling Sack

Chapter 6: Messenger Bags

  • Personal Purse
  • DJ Bag
  • City Satchel

Chapter 7: Organizers

  • Tool Apron
  • Artist’s Roll
  • Tool Holster
  • Caddy



The biggest advantage of this book for me, is that it assumes no prior knowledge! The early sections of the book explain about choosing fabrics, tools and accessories needed to start sewing. There are diagrams to show you how to achieve the various techniques mentioned. Each project has a supplies list, so you know what you need to get. I like how there are no patterns, patterns freak me out, no idea what all the symbols on them mean. This book teaches you how to make your ownd designs to your own requirements. Complete freedom :) From this I did indeed make my own pattern, with notes to help me out as I make the bag up :) It gives you a great sence of achievement. Projects start simple and get progressively more complex later in the book, so it will be something you will still use later on.

The book is spiral bound so it will lie flat next to you as you work, if you wish to refer to it as you go along.


I really can’t find any downsides to this book, there is something for all levels.

Would I buy it Again/recommend it to friends?


Summing Up

If you are just starting out with sewing and want to learn through projects, then this book is perfect. The sections at the beginning are so helpful with advice on all the techniques mentioned in the book. It takes you from simple to more complex projects, so it is a book that will still be valuable once you are more confident.

What I like most is the fact that although the projects are well explained, as you progress you feel that you could alter things here and there and customise each project. If you learn a technique in an earlier section, you could add that element in a later design. I do like books like this, that really explain things well, but give you room to add your own ideas too.

A must have book for anyone interested in making bags, much less intimidating than other books around.




Lexie Barnes Author’s Blog

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post, I will be reviewing the following book;

A Compendium of Curiosities


A Compendium Of Curiosities by Tim Holtz

  • Author; Tim Holtz
  • Publisher; Advantus Corp
  • ISBN: ?

I admit, I am a HUGE fan of Tim Holtz’s techniques. A regular visitor to his blog and I already own his two DVDs. Having been crafting, for quite a while and already using several of Tim’s techniques, I wondered how much ‘new’ stuff this book would hold. I feared it would be little more than a catalogue of products, more focused on selling product than technique. WRONG!!!!


The first section is a look round Tim’s studio (Wish it was mine!!!).


Here you will find a list of essential tools. Although these are key to the grunge style techniques, if you are just starting out in stamping and paper crafts, they are a very good core kit, for many styles.


This is a bit of a product list for the ideology range but it is also far more. Each page features four or five photos of projects showing the items in use. There is a panel on each page describing which item is used where and has new ideas for products.

If you have longed to buy some of the Ideaology range of embellishments but are a little unsure of what to do with them, or how they would look, these ideas will definitely spark your imagination. If you have bought any of the products previously and neglected them, this book will definitely have you rushing to your supplies to get started.


This section features over 30 of Tim’s techniques. Each page has 6 descriptive photos, of how to complete the technique. The photos are very well taken, as you can clearly see the lids of inks and lables on bottles, to see which products are used, without the need for lengthy listing of products. If you are a long-standing Tim Holtz fan, you will see techniques that you recognise but there are still plenty of new ideas and the most recent products are used. This is a wonderful reference book for all of Tim’s magic. There are products that I’ve seen but not tried, now I see how they are used I can’t wait to try them out.


Eye candy! The gallery section features, books, cards, tags & scrapbook pages. After reading through the techniques section, you will start to recognize the techniques in action, on the finished pieces. SO much inspiration.

Who Is this Book For?

This book, is for everyone who likes Tim’s style of stamping. If you like grunge, you will love this book. I do think this book would be suitable for crafters at all levels, even those just starting out. Tim shows a wide range of techniques and you can build upon them, as your skills improve. I love creating my own background papers using Tim’s style of stamping and colouring. For those just starting, out the advice on core kit, will be very helpful.

For those more seasoned crafters, you may well find you have a lot of the products mentioned, already and this is a great place to learn how to get the best from them. At last, a book that will stretch the seasoned crafter YEY!!!!!

If you have bought any of Tim’s products and then neglected them for ages, not too sure what to do with them. (I did that with Grugeboard for AGES) Then this book is for you. Ideas a plenty and so much inspiration, that you will rush to your cupboard to get your supplies out.

Value for Money

This is a superb book and packs so much into its 77 pages. It sounds expensive, for such a small volume but the amount of ground covered in these pages, is impressive. The front section is great if you have or would like to try a particular Ideology product and are not sure quite what it is or what to do with it.

The techniques section covers a lot of ground. The best thing about this book, is that it is showing you techniques. Once you have these skills,  you can take them wherever your own imagination leads. This is so much better than a small list of finished cards/projects, where all you learn are just those projects. With the techniques in this book your only limitation is your imagination.

I was a bit negative, when I discovered this was a spiral bound book, but the paper quality is superb and it’s true that if you are following along with the techniques in your craft space, a book that lies open next to you, is a big advantage. This book is a wonderful compendium of Tim’s techniques and products, a must have for Tim fans and a must have for anyone looking to stretch their skills.

Summing Up

A MUST have book! I’m loving it!


If you have not heard of Tim Holtz (where have you been???) Here are a list of places you can find out more about him and his products. Tim’s book is available through his blog.

Tim Holtz website, full details of the Ideology range.

Tim Holtz Blog

Ranger website for details of products

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I will be reviewing the following book

Embroidered Books By Isobel Hall

Publisher: Batsford

ISBN: 978 1 9063 8813 3

Why I ordered this book

Having more experience in bookbinding now, I was looking for some new inspiration, for decorating the covers of my books. I already have books detailing the binding itself and I really wanted some visual inspiration of finished works.


The first section of the book deals with construction of  the books.

The styles mentioned are;

Books with embroidered spines, Post and screws, Concertina style books, Shaped books, Carousel books, Waterfall Pages and box books.

The next section covers Techniques and Materials

Cocoon Strippings, Plaster of Paris, Inkjet printing, Glue Sticks, Metal relief foils, Texture effects, Marbling, working with Waxes, Using Grungeboard and Using Pulp Papers.

At the back of the book are a list of UK suppliers and also a selection of other books the reader may find of interest.


The finished examples of books shown are very beautiful. The list of techniques and binding styles was impressive.


The step by steps included with the finished picture are not a detailed guide, so it is not your usual project based book. The descriptions are more how to combine techniques together. You need a thorough knowledge of various materials and products before you will be able to follow along with this book.

I am new to fabric and had no idea what the materials were or how to use them. Since the only instruction in the book is written, I felt it needed to go into more detail on what to do. This book would have benefited by having a glossary of products, so newbies like myself could look up what something was.

Sadly the descriptions for me left me with many questions and I wasn’t able to follow any of the projects. I would need to do a lot of research away from the book, to discover what the products were, and how to use them before I could used this book as it was intended. The earlier list of items needed at the start of each project disappeared, so I was having to read the entire project to find out what I needed, only to find I didn’t have them.

Summing Up

My first glance through this book impressed me, wonderful images of finished books, the first few projects looked much like the tutorials I write; with a list of products you need followed by a list of instructions and I thought I was going to enjoy this book. Sadly when I started reading it, I became lost in a wealth of products I didn’t recognise with no where to find out about them, within the book. Had this book stated it was for an experienced fabric artist,  I would have known that I didn’t have the required skills to follow it.

Fewer projects but with more detail of how to complete the project would have helped. I write this from a position of having NO prior knowledge or experience with working with fabric. If I had already known what the materials were and how to use them, then this would be a good book to encourage me with ideas of how to combine techniques.

I still enjoy the images of the finished books and will use them to inspire me with products I already own. If I later acquire more skills with the fabrics mentioned in this book, then I will revisit it with new eyes.

Who is this book For?

Someone who is used to working with fabric and already has techniques under their belt. Looking for ways of combining their skills. This book would not be good for a new bookbinder or someone new to using fabrics.

This review tried to be fair to the author, who is obviously very talented and knowledgeable. Her finished work is very inspiring. Note to the publisher’s please add something in the back cover or inside jacket, to say this is for experienced fabric crafters. I bought this book online and that was all the info I had before purchase. It was only once I was looking through the book that I discovered the need for prior knowledge.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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The other day a friend on mine Dymphie took a photo of her collection of books on bookbinding and it inspired me to create a list of my top five favorite books on the subject. Would any other bookbinders out there like to contribute their top five favourites? Either leave your list as a comment below or maybe create your list on your own website and link it back to here in a comment.

1.  Volume 1 Non Adhesive Binding; Books without Glue or Paste


2.  Cover to Cover

  • Author: Shereen La Plantz
  • Publisher: Lark Books www.larkbooks.com
  • ISBN: 13: 978 – 0 – 937274-87-3
  • ISBN: 10: 0-937274-87-9

3. Expressive Handmade Books

  • Author: Alisa Golden
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • ISBN: 1-4027-2051-3

4. Hand Bookbinding A Manual of Instruction

5. Bookbinding A Beginners Manual

  • Author: John Ashman
  • Publisher: Adam & Charles Black
  • ISBN: 0-7136-2113-3

All of these books would be suitable for beginners, I’ll do a separate list another day, of my top five books for the more experienced binder. Here’s why I love the above books.

1. Excellent detailed instructions for many kinds of binding styles. When you want to progress and just want instructions on how to complete a selection of different bindings, without endless pictures of finished books, get this book. Excellent reference book, but might overwhelm a total novice.

2. Excellent first book for bookbinding. Plenty of inspiring pictures, with a good selection of binding styles, described step by step.

3. This would also be an excellent place to start for the new bookbinder. inspiring pictures and instruction on binding styles.

4. Another great book for the first steps. The pictures are all black and white and are more ‘technical drawings’ that compliment the techniques covered, rather than glossy finished books. A lot of excellent info and the section at the back on making your own binding equipment is superb and will save you a lot of money,when you just start out.

5. I Love this book. It is one of those ‘Does what it says on the tin’ kind of books. truly excellent descriptions of many aspects of bookbinding equipment is explained as well as binding styles. An excellent reference book to explain terms you will see in other books.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

So it’s the New Year! The traumatic, frantic shopping trips, for the holiday season are behind you. Everyone’s trying to get you to make New Year’s resolutions, change this, stop doing that etc. NO THANKS! Not me, I like you just the way you are. For some years now I’ve turned my back on negative New Years Resolutions, life is too short, there is enough pressure with work and family without adding to it yourself.

What would you really like right now?

  • Inspiration
  • A good book
  • To learn some interesting techniques
  • To take a leap of faith and try something different
  • To make a dream come true

Well the good news is Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts, is the perfect book for right now. If you read blogs like mine and creative magazines and wish you were doing something like that, either your own blog or the creating itself, but for whatever reason haven’t yet taken the step to make it happen, then Kelly’s book will help you find your inner dreams and start to make them blossom into reality.

For many years I fought with an inner demon, the voice of my art teacher from school. He would constantly critisise my work and never encourage me. Everything I created, even many years after leaving school, I would have this inner commentry of his voice criticising it. I belived this inner voice and I too thought what I created was no good. I tried The Artists Way but found it simply too difficult.

Kelly Rae Robert’s book is a joy to read, from the very begining she inspires you with her own journey and how to discover what it is that you would like to do. Kelly then takes you on the most amazing voyage to take your dreams and make them possible. Unlike other books of this kind, you feel like Kelly is right there with you, holding your hand, while you find your way. Leading,  but without pushing you. It is the most encouraging, uplifting and empowering book, I’ve ever read. If you want to be encouraged not judged, to silence the inner critic and allow your inner creative spirit to flourish, then this book is for you.

If you are asking why I am not doing my usual more in depth description of the book, it is simply because this book is a journey in itself. You will find a different journey within its pages, to the one I did. That’s the beauty of it, each of us has a different dream, and are on a different path, your answers to Kelly’s questions will be different to mine. But one thing you can be sure of, this book speaks to your soul, it helps you discover what is important to you, what you need and that what you need isn’t always the same as what you want.

Here are the details of Kelly Rae’s book so you can find a copy for yourself. You are worthy, you do deserve to make your dreams come true. You can make it happen, and Kelly will help you find out what your ‘thing’ is.

Taking Flight, Inspiration & Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings

Author: Kelly Rae Roberts

Publisher: North Light Books

ISBN-13: 978-1-60061-082-0

ISBN-10: 1-60061-082-X


Taking Flight on Amazon UK, check out the search inside option ;)

Kelly Rae Roberts Blog

Kelly Rae Roberts Twitter

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back


For a few years now I have been considering starting an art journal. I am a big fan of Suzi Blu and her inspirational videos really made it look a lot of fun, I wanted to try but was afraid of ‘doing it wrong’. Suzi Blu showed a trailer for Julie Prichard’s Layer Love class and mentioned Julie’s blog. After seeing more art journaling there and an advert for a new magazine that Julie was featured in by Somerset Studio called ‘Art Journaling’ I decided to take a look.

The magazine had been out for a while by the time I found it, but there was still a digital version available. Looking at the few pages offered as a taster of the magazine I decided to buy it. What can I say…OMG! This was a revelation, a publication full of amazing images of different styles of Journals and from many artists. The publication has advice on choosing pens, journals, glues etc. There are interviews with many artists and a whole host of links, to those artists websites and blogs.


Reading this issue got me off the fence and I started an art journal of my own, and it is just as much fun as people say it is. There is so much inspiration in that publication, all in one place together. I finally realised that like any other creative endeavour that there are as many different styles as there are artists. There is no wrong way, you journal in a way you like, it is your journal after all. There is a picture of a journal page on the top of page 29 that really called to me. I believe the work is by LK Ludwig. The image is of a man holding a birds wings, and the text below reads;

‘He offers you wings and asks the question

Can you forget your fear of falling long enough to fly?’

That totally summed up my feelings towards art journaling, I did want to do it, I was just afraid of falling and getting it wrong. It was fear preventing me from starting a journal and after reading this magazine and visiting the wonderful websites of the artists featured, I was hooked.


Is Art Journaling Magazine for me?


Buy this magazine if you can say yes to the following;

You want to find out what art journaling is all about?

You want to find links to superb artists, for inspiration?

Although the physical issue 1 has sold out there is still a digital version available to download. Issue 2 came out 1st September 2009.


This has taken my creative journey to a whole new land of possibilities. It is one of the best presents you could buy for your creative side. Go check it out on the links below.



Stampington and Company

Art Journaling

Art Journaling Issue 1 (Digital download)


Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon


Billie :)

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Welcome Back

If you have decided to try acrylic paint for the first time, gone to the art store to purchase some paint, brushes etc and been bewildered by the choice, this book is for you. If you were too embarrassed to ask for help in the store, this book is for you. I started an art journal in May 2009, and soon discovered that layering water colour paint, or water soluble wax crayons, didn’t really work. I had seen people using Liquid acrylics and had some of my fathers Cryla paint to try, but all the gels and mediums were a mystery. I wanted a book that would explain the different kinds of acrylic paint, what the differences were and what I could paint on. This book did just that. Today I will be reviewing the following book

The New Acrylics;

Complete Guide to the New Generation for  Acrylic Paints

by Rheni Tauchid


Rheni Tauchid's Excellent book

Published by Watson-Guuptill Publications

ISBN 0-8230-3159-4


Chapter 1; The language of Acrylics

Here you are introduced to just what acrylic paint is. The differences between the very fluid acrylics through to the heavy body (thick) acrylic paint. There is an explanation of the difference between student and artist grade paint.


Chapter 2; Materials and Equipment

The most comprehensive description of the different surfaces you can paint on to and how to prepare them. The different kinds of implement that you could use to paint with.


Chapter 3; About Colour

Here you will find descriptions about colours and the differences between various pigments, both natural and synthetic. This is a  kind of Features and Benefits description of different colour groups. If the descriptions on the labeling of paint tube, jars bewilders you, there is an excellent description of what the various terms mean. Metallic, iridescent and other unique colours are also described.

Chapter 4; Acrylic Mediums

 This is one of my favorite chapters in the book. As a total novice to acrylics, mediums were a mystery, they look the same in pots, they sound similar in their names. Before this book I had written off experiment with mediums, as too costly. This chapter starts with a review of the main groups of mediums and uses pictures to compare different mediums, to various food stuffs; honey, icing, cream. Things that most people can relate too…inspired! After this there are dedicated sections on each of the mediums, showing applications for which each medium is suited. A perfect glossary to refer to, for future projects. No more blind date buying of mediums, just to see what they do.

Chapter 5; Basic Applications

This chapter has a description of techniques –  not a step by step but enough information for you to understand techniques; under painting, glazing etc and their effects on colours. How you apply them to your own creativity, is still wide open. This is a very clever book, at no point does the author attempting to ‘push’ the reader into any particular style. It is so refreshing to read this style of work, plenty of inspiration, without feeling forced into a particular style of working.

Chapter 6; Alternative Approaches

Techniques a plenty! Here is where there are some excellent step by step tutorials. Interestingly, even here the tutorials are just for a specific technique – still not trying to ‘tell’ the reader where these ‘should’ be used. You might expect me to want to be told where to apply these techniques, since I’m a total beginner but everyone has their own opinion about what art is to them, so this is actually perfect. I had so many ideas while reading this book, about how I could use the paints/mediums and techniques. Maybe if the book had tried to ‘tell’ me where I should be using them, I  might not try my own ideas and either think my way was wrong or just follow a particular project and not experiment.


There is a generous section on using acrylics for printing. Some great ideas to try, 3D work and mixed media are also covered.

Chapter 7; Decorative Objects

 A selection of step by step projects, using the techniques described in the earlier sections of the book.


Summing Up

What I love about this book, is that it gives you a comprehensive description of the different paints and what they do, without pushing you toward any particular style of painting. Other art books want to teach me how to use acrylics to look like watercolours or to paint in the oil painting style. This book could have been called ‘The Dictionary of Acrylics’ or ‘All the things you’ve always wanted to ask about acrylic paint, but were afraid to ask.’ If you are passionate about colour you will love this book, the author is clearly passionate about the subject and her style of writing is inspiring and engaging as well as informative.


This book is a perfect reference guide for the new painter, and for more established artists who want to try some new mediums or techniques. There is some superb artwork in the book and each new page, just makes you go WOW. I defy anyone to look through this book and not be desperate to get to their paint after reading it.


I started reading this book knowing NOTHING about acrylics. Intimidated by the choices of paint available and not knowing what kinds of products to purchase. I did have a clear idea of how I wanted a finished piece to look but needed advice on what products would be suitable to achieve this. This is the most inspiring book on art I’ve ever bought. I have learnt which paint to buy to get the effects I’m looking for, which mediums would be suitable and how to use them. I am now very excited about all the amazing things that acrylic paint can do. I now can’t wait to get some paint and start experimenting.  My fear of painting has, at least in part, been replaced by excitement about all the possibilities of what can be achieved with acrylics.


This is a fantastic book, thank you Rheni for the wealth of information packed into this book and for allowing your reader space, to use the materials and technique’s in their own way. This is a MUST have book for anyone interested in acrylics, a fantastic reference  and research book for all your acrylic questions. Would I buy it again? Definitely and I’ve recommended it to all my friends too.



Here is a link to the book on Amazon

This is Rheni Tauchid’s Blog


Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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