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We went to the library today.  I grabbed an assortment of books for myself — a play about the Laramie project,  a paper-craft book, and a travel book about the Atlantic provinces of Canada — and Mr. Apron took out a book on Churchill and Gandhi.  We have different literary interests.

I should have known from the cover of the craft book, which said, “40 [insert adjective here] projects”, but I was too enthralled with the cover photograph of a beautiful quilled greeting card with apple trees on it to even notice the adjective.  “Project” is  a word that connotes, “fun things to do”, or, in my house growing up, as spoken by my mother, “arduous task I want you to do, and you can’t say no”.  So much so that now she calls them “P-word”s, ostensibly so I don’t cringe when she asks.  I still cringe.  The denotation of “project” is very different; it means “a prescribed set of directions which will yield the sample result as pictured in beautiful glossy photography”. 

And that’s all you get.  You barely get technique except as covered in the introduction on how to cut with a craft knife, how to find the center of a piece of paper, and how to use a bone folder (or back of a spoon!) to make creases.  Very brief discussion of how to use a quilling tool, and pretty spread of different types of paper.  The projects; now those are a different beast altogether.

You have to buy the exact paper punches, stickers, napkins, transfer designs, peel-offs, embossing powder, and stamps as her, or you’ll never get yours to look like the sample.  And she always says something like, “If you can’t find this paper punch design — which should be readily available — use my template in the back of the book.”  Like she’s doing you a big favor so you can copy her exactly.  Which seems to be precisely what she wants.  There’s no variety in her photos, so you can imagine it in different iterations with different themes.  There’s even prescriptive coloration.  “You’ll need a 5.5″;x8.5″ piece of card stock in pink, and a floral napkin with greens and purples in it”.  What happened to coloring outside the lines?  What happened to teaching us to fish so we could go off and explore some new technique you taught us?  Yes, a technique, not a project.  My bad.  Didn’t see it on the cover.

Even though they’re aimed at kids, Klutz does a much better job than all of these adult-oriented craft books.  The last one I fumbled on was a book on sewing heirlooms as gifts, a topic that could be said to appeal to me.  While the scope for imagination (to quote Anne of Green Gables) was somewhat broader — not all the projects will look exactly as her samples — they relied so heavily on photographs printed onto printer-safe fabric I thought I was reading “Photoshop 101 for Quilters”.  Again, Klutz is brilliant for their distinct non-kit kits.  They give you all the materials you need, teach you some projects, but then give you skills to go explore the medium further, be it Sculpey clay, calligraphy, shrinky-dinks, or bottle rockets.  Too many kid things are kits.  They have exactly the same flaws as this paper-craft book, and all the projects that come from the book look exactly the same. 

I’ll keep pouring over the library shelves, and probably end up making a plea for the big-ass Martha Stewart craft book for my birthday.  For though we are at times sworn enemies, she is after all the craft guru.  She shows some technique, like potato printing, and I go off into my little world and make a pile of baby onesies inspired by her.  She mentions using  bottle caps and I immediately start brain-storming all the kooky things I could shove in those neat circles.  She may be evil, but she’s my go-to lady for goddess-like domesticity.

Craftster Award

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