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Creativity is a Verb

Creativity is a Verb

This isn’t a new book, but one that I have enjoyed reading numerous times. Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative by Patti Digh was published in 2011.

Creative is a verb cover


This is the description that is on Patti Digh’s website about the book: Your life is the work of art. Following up on her successful Life Is a Verb, and in the tradition of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Patti Digh here presents a book that leads readers by both heart and head to acknowledge, reinforce, and use their own creative spirit. Creative Is a Verb is a book for everyone, whether you say, “I’m not creative” or “I’m just a dabbler” or “I’m an artist.” Original artwork enhances each essay, contributed by artist/followers of the author’s blog, 37 days. Thirty-three related essays are organized around six overarching themes that guide readers beyond the fear of creativity to embrace their inner artist. As the author says, “If you’re alive, you’re creative.” Among the themes: “Be Ordinary,” “See More,” “Get Present,” and “Catch Fire.” Each essay is followed by creative exercises for the reader, allowing her to apply the principles of each story to her own life.

I’m not always one to do all the “exercises” in a book but I was certainly inspired by the essays and the quotes that are scattered throughout the book. I really like the way she tells who the book is for:

“This book is for everyone who courageously creates their life as a work of art, sometimes beautiful, sometimes messy, sometimes painful, sometimes mundane, and always an expression of their unique vision; for everyone who notices the color Chartreuse and crazy clouds wherever they go; for everyone who makes art from stones, from trash, from loss; for everyone who longs to climb back into the marvelous; for everyone who yearns to reclaim their creative spirit, their art spark and for those who want to jump into their yearning and walk toward their obstacles. Yes, I mean you.”

Does that sound like you?

Book Review: Creating Felt Artwork

Book Review: Creating Felt Artwork

Creating Felt Artwork: a step by step guide

This is an excellent, information packed, 60 page, full colour e-book by Rosiepink fibre artists Annie and Lyn. Using one of their own pieces, ‘The Meadow’ as a guide, they show you a step by step process and give you all the information you need to make your own beautiful, unique felt artwork. There are lots of nice, clear photos throughout, and simple but detailed instructions with lots of excellent tips and advice. Before the main part on how to create your felt wall hanging, there is a great section about finding inspiration, how to interpret your ideas into a design and planning your artwork.

The information in the main step by step guide is excellent. It starts with a detailed equipment list with lots of hints for using inexpensive items you’d find around the house, and advice about preparing your work area. The instructions for how to lay out the wool for your design are very clear and detailed, and there are lots of photographs to illustrate each stage. There’s a very detailed explanation of the whole felting process and valuable information about choosing other fabrics and fibres to add to your design.

The next section teaches you how to enhance and embellish your artwork with simple machine embroidery. This part is packed with information and advice too. There’s everything you need to know about stabilising your felt artwork and choosing the right colours and types of thread to work best with your design. There’s information about techniques to create the effect you want and how to add detail. This section also has advice about adding hand stitching and how to use machine and hand stitching to create effects and texture and also about using other fibres for adding extra texture and detail.

Once you’ve finished your felt art wall hanging, you’ll want to display it. There is a great section on how to back and hang your artwork simply and effectively, with clear instructions and photos. But if you’d like to display your artwork a different way, there is also a separate section on alternate ways to display your artwork and how to care for it.

There’s information and tips throughout the book for techniques to help you realise your own design and create your own unique artwork. This includes how to make and use prefelt for more control over your design; how to re-use spare felt in the same way; using yarn and small drafted sections of wool for design, and adding other fabrics and needlefelting to enhance your artwork.

So, what if you’ve followed all the instructions and you’re not happy with the way it turned out, or maybe you made a few sample pieces to try out your colour choices and don’t know what to do with them? There’s even a section for that, with some great ideas on what to do with spare pieces of felt.

And don’t worry if you’re an absolute beginner and have never tried felting before, or don’t really know what all the felting terms mean, there’s a glossary at the end with everything you need to know and an appendix with a complete step by step guide to making felt, with lots of clear photos.

This really is excellent value for money. It’s an invaluable source of information and advice about creating beautiful feltwork and enhancing it simply with easy tips and techniques. And the great advantages about being an e-book is you can have it instantly and zoom into the photos for even more detail 🙂

If you’d like to own a copy, visit Annie and Lyn’s website   It’s also available on Craftsy

Book Review

Book Review

Here’s another review of a book I have in my fiber art library. The book is called Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn. (I can’t seem to copy the photo from Amazon so you’ll need to follow the link to see the book.) This book is about machine embroidery and is a combination of specific step by step photos as well as wonderful selections from artists around the world doing free motion machine embroidery.

The piece above is a machine stitched fabric page of an old castle ruin that I did using Carol Shinn’s method of machine embroidery. The book is very informative and has beautiful photos of Carol’s work and work of other artists. The chapters are:

  1. Understanding the Process of Machine Embroidery – This chapter covers all the basics including what “freestyle” means, supplies needed, adjusting thread tension, stitch direction and distortion, caring for your machine and trouble shooting.
  2. Color Mixing – The second chapter includes several different exercises to help you learn about mixing colors with thread including layering thread colors, understanding gradation, and planning and stitching a complete design. Carol shows a variety of samples that really illustrate color mixing well.
  3. My Process for Making an Embroidery – Chapter three shows a step by step process with lots of photos of how Carol stitches her pieces. There is an excellent troubleshooting section at the end that teaches you how to correct any possible errors.
  4. Adding Variety – The fourth chapter reviews all the different types of stitches that can change the look of a machine embroidered piece. Again, there are many close up photos to show the different variations. Carol also talks about combining hand and machine stitching, attaching decorative elements, edge considerations, dissolvable films and fabrics and using different background surfaces. There is also a small section about painting the surface and mixed media techniques.
  5. Freestyle Machine Embroidery as an Artistic Medium – The last chapter is a gallery of other artist’s work and brief description of their working methods. It is amazing the variety of work that can be done on the sewing machine and each has their own style. If you’re interested in machine embroidery, this chapter is very inspiring.
The last part of the book has further information in different appendices including your work space and equipment, basic color information, three ways to re-proportion artwork for embroidery and distortion. I really enjoyed this book and experimented with several pieces using her method. I think the book was the most helpful to me in what I learned about distortion and how to control it when adding dense layers of thread.

Book Review

Book Review

I thought it would be fun to go through my library of fiber art books and do a review of some of my favorites. I don’t have any other books by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn but I have seen some of their other books. I have to say that I would recommend anything written by them. They are a great team and pack a lot of useful information in their books.

If you click on the photo above it will take you to Amazon. I think the book is out of print because the new copies are really pricey but you can buy them used for less. Or look in your local library, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find this book. I love this book. I refer back to it frequently and have read it cover to cover at least three times.

The book has two sections the first is “Design to Embroider” and the second is “Stitched Images”.  The first section is about how to develop designs on paper and mixed media, where to look to find ideas and exploring those ideas. It is a good start to basic design and how to relate it to embroidery. The photos and examples are wonderful and inspiring. They show their own work as well as work of other artists.

Section two of the book is about taking your designs and making them into an embroidery. There is information about fabric paints and various methods of using them, working with applique’, stitch themes, machine embroidery and selecting a theme. This book is not a step by step instruction book. It does give basic information about how to use various fabric paint products but it doesn’t contain any projects to follow. The book is geared towards getting you to think about your own designs and how to develop backgrounds and then add stitch to make a complex experimental stitch piece.

The book talks a bit about using different stitches but it is not a stitch dictionary and limited directions for individual hand or machine stitches. What it does is give you lots of ideas about how to interpret designs and various approaches to use to achieve the desired effects. Every time I read the book, I find something new to consider. If you only do traditional embroidery from a kit and don’t want to learn how to design, this book isn’t for you. If you’d like to take a more experimental approach and learn how to design your work, you’ll love this book. All the reviews on Amazon are 5 stars!

If you have a favorite fiber art book, I’d love to hear about it. Hop on over to the forum and  tell us about your favorite book.

Book Review – The Embroiderer’s Handbook

Book Review – The Embroiderer’s Handbook

I bought this book mainly because it was on sale when our local Borders closed but also because I wanted a stitch dictionary. You can check it out on Amazon. The reviews there are positive and the one complaint I saw was that there weren’t any patterns for the finished projects shown. This book is a stitch guide and is not meant to show you how to do specific projects.  It does show hand stitched pieces for examples and inspiration but its main strength is that it has photographs of all the stitch steps with written instructions for each step.

The first portion of the book is about getting started and it goes over fabrics, threads, needles, transferring designs, how to begin and end and hoops. Throughout the book there are tips about using the stitches  and solving common problems. The book includes over 150 different stitches and variations of a variety of stitches. All of the stitches are in alphabetical order making it simple to look up one stitch easily.

The photographs of each stitch are very clear and the instructions are easy to follow. If you have difficulty following stitch diagrams, this book is for you. It shows many more steps with photos than a stitch diagram does and makes even complicated stitches easy to understand. I am not particularly interested in ribbon embroidery, but for those that are, there are quite a few examples of stitches used in ribbon embroidery.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a stitch dictionary that is reasonably priced and shows step by step photos. This book does not give you any embroidery patterns and is not experimental embroidery. It shows the basic stitches and how to do them. I refer to it when I’ve forgotten how to do a stitch (who me, forget something???) or when I want to learn a new stitch and I’ve found it very helpful.

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