Everyone loves the idea of making our own crafts, of creating beautiful and useful objets d’art for the home. Here are a few ways to start. Painting or pasting rustic scenes on wood result in lovely decor for the garden or porch, or for a bedroom, whether an adult’s or a child’s.
Solange Sidot’s short reference work, Serviettes Et Beaux Papiers: 56 Collages Originaux Sur Bois (2004) is a how-to book (written in French) that shows how to paint backgrounds and then paste designs from napkins onto everyday objects. Cover it all up with varnish and you have a lovely keepsake for the living room. There are instructions on how to make the paint look old and crackly, the best varnish to use, and tips (use a hair dryer to speed up drying). There are ideas about flowers, a Japanese motif, even jumping froggies for the younger set, and suggestions for bread boxes and jewellery boxes.
Or how about a harvest wreath for your front door? A ring of beautiful dried flowers is just one of the many ideas brought forward in Enchanted Circles: The Art Of Making Decorative Wreaths For All Seasons And Special Occasions, by Elizabeth Jane Lloyd (1990).
A guide to the traditional meaning of each flower is included, as well as instructions on when and how to pick (“Always pick the full length of the stem; they can be trimmed later.” Pick flowers after the dew’s dried but before the mid-day sun, and pick them young — unless you’re thinking of hydrangeas, which should be a bit older, “when the petals are crisp to the touch.”) Air-drying is the easiest option.
You can use feathers, paper, even seashells for a wreath. Or eggshells for Easter! Lloyd will show you how, with something that’s appropriate for each of the four seasons. There’s instruction on plaiting wheat and, if you cook that wheat, a recipe for a breaded circle. (It takes four hours to make.)
The book is marvelously inventive, though you might not want to light the candles of the St. Lucia crown if you place it on your head. Especially not if you pair it with a drinking wreath…
Those who love sewing will be entertained by the needlecrafts.
And once you’re done that, it might be time to test out the home decorating tips of Gina Moore’s Cushions And Covers: A Step-By-Step Guide To Creative Soft Furnishings (1997). There’s instructions for pillows and cushions, tablecloths (for a rectangular table, measure length and width of tabletop, then add twice the required depth), kitchen chair covers, even a bedskirt. Or how about square foam footstools made to look like dice
You’ll find tips on colour and texture. And yes, you’ll need a sewing machine for many of these projects.
Traditional quilt-making takes time and hard work, it’s not for everyone. To see the real thing – and marvel at the skill and patience required – check out the annual quilt show and sale this weekend at Lennoxville’s St. George’s Church (84 Queen, $5 admission, Sept. 9 and 10).
If you first want to learn about the history of patterns and of quilt-making, read Quilts And Other Bed Coverings In The Canadian Tradition, by Ruth and Blake McKendry (1979). It’s a coffee table tome with black and white and many colour plates, showcasing the work of the poor and frozen Upper Canada pioneers sewing into their bedding the needs of warmth and thrift (some did die of cold), with the narratives of their lives and traditions. “Austere women,” writes Ruth McKendry, “made quilts that were poems of love.”
This is the perfect companion book to your weekend visit to the show.
These art-craft books can be found in the regular stacks, but Serviettes Et Beaux Papiers is filed in New Arrivals.
– Eleanor Brown, September 9, 2011