Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

Summer Book Reviews: Arts and Crafts Books

I frequently write about ways to combat writer’s block. One of my favorites: engage a different part of your brain. Though I am not an artist, I like doing art. When I shut down the computer and begin messing with beads, then the ideas begin to flow. Before I can string a bracelet, I have solved my writing problem.

Arts and Crafts Books. This year, I’ve been branching out from beads. And of course, how does a reader learn a new skill? She reads! I love going to the library and perusing the arts and crafts books. Often, I will come home with a great big stack and spend hours paging through them, imagining what I might create. In the past few years, I’ve added a few of these to my library. These are my favorites. Enjoy!


Creative Beading: Over 60 Original Jewellery Projects and Variations by Juju Vail. I’ve been using this book for a little over a year and am not bored yet. It contains clever, fun projects at several skill levels.

A String and A Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads by Eleanor Wiley and Maggie Oman Shannon. When I first started beading, I made prayer beads from a pattern I found online. This book teaches the history of prayer beads in multiple religious and spiritual traditions. It also offers clear patterns for making your own and ideas for using them.

Stitching Beaded Jewelry: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started by Lesley Weiss. Full disclosure: I know Lesley from book group. I was delighted to hear about her amazing book, because I have always wanted to learn how to stitch beads. The book is packed full of great instructions for beginners as well as beautiful projects. I can’t wait to get started! And for you lucky folks attending the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, Lesley Weiss will be teaching. Check out her classes!


Zentangle (r) Zentangle, created by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, is a “method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.” (Zentangle Website)  I learned about zentangle from a colleague on National Doodle Day and have been hooked ever since. Here are a few of the books I have been using to learn zentangle.

Totally Tangled: Zentangle and Beyond! by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. I am slowly working my way through Totally Tangled, learning each of the patterns. This book offers great tools for beginners without ever getting boring!

Yoga For Your Brain (TM): A Zentangle Workout by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. This book offers ideas, tips, projects and new zentangle patterns for anyone who needs a big old challenge!

Time to Tangle with Colors by Marie Browning. If you want to take your doodling to the next level, add a bit of color. Browning teaches a number of techniques for adding color to tangles and then presents several projects.


Illustrated Journaling

Journal Bliss: Creative Prompts to Unleash Your Inner Eccentric by Violette. This book teaches some basic techniques for making your journals more creative, colorful, and personal. The book is juicy, creative, and just plain delicious!

Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim. Ever since I failed at drawing still life in high school, I’ve been afraid of drawing. This book is curing me. Each exercise teaches a fun way of approaching drawing as well as ideas for “taking it further.”


Art Inspiration! Sometimes when I am stuck, seeing how other writers and artists find inspiration inspires me. When I don’t have time to leave the house, I read books like these for inspiration.

Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists by Ricë Freeman-Zachery. Learn from 15 working artists how they get inspired, make time to work, and overcome blocks. The book includes photos of the artists, examples of their work and prompts to get you started.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory. This book gives all of us a peek at the sketchbooks of artists. Each profile includes an essay about the process from the artist as well as several pages from their sketchbooks. Simply amazing!

How to Be An Explorer of the World: Portable Art Life Museum by Keri Smith. This book provides 59 experiments/explorations for the reader to do and document. But reader beware: it might just inspire you. Here’s what the author says on the back of the book: “In this book you will be repeatedly asked to … suspend your disbelief, complete tasks that make you feel a bit strange, look at the world in ways that make you think differently, conduct experiments on a regular basis, and see inanimate objects as alive.” Sounds good to me!


A Final Word. Well, there you have it friends: art and craft books to inspire you all summer long. If you have more to add, suggest them in the comment section below. I am always interested in new books!

BUT WAIT! I have many more great summer reads for you. Check back next week for another blog post. Or, if you really don’t want to miss it: subscribe!





Leave a Reply