Archive for category Subject: Craft

The Encaustic Art Project Book || Michael Bossom

Encaustic art is the art of using coloured wax as a painting medium. Having a heated iron, either of the domestic variety or with stylus-like tips instead of brushes takes a little getting used to, but oil painters who are familiar with knives may feel more at home. There’s no doubt that the colours can be extremely vibrant, but Michael also uses traditional media to create more subtle effects and also set off highlights created with the waxes.

Although there is a good introduction to materials and equipment, this is not a primer and you may well benefit from something more elementary before embarking on some of the ideas included here. There’s no doubt, though, that you can produce some rewarding results.

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Metal Clay Animal Jewellery || Natalia Colman

If you’re a sculptor, you may have heard of metal clay, but I’ll admit it’s a new one on me. It sounds pretty amazing, though – particles of metal in suspension in water and a binding agent that can be moulded like mineral clay.

The results here are amazing, too, and look convincingly cast rather than moulded (as they are). Although this is a project-based book, the technical introduction is thorough but straightforward and discusses materials, firing techniques (you can even use a portable gas stove) and some basic jewellery techniques such as stringing and looping. This is easy to understand and I get a strong sense at the end that this is something I could do.

The projects are basically technical exercises broken down into step-by-step demonstrations which you can either follow or use as inspiration for your own creations. I would have thought that you’d be branching out pretty quickly and that your confidence with the medium would develop pretty quickly.

All round, nicely done and producing attractive results.

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The Big Book Of Canvas Art

This book looks fabulous and, just flicking quickly through it, you can see that it’s full of ideas and inspiration and there’s no doubt that you’d probably buy it there and then because it would be sure to get you going in arts and crafts.

And yet. And yet it flatters to deceive (not deliberately, stick with me). In this, it’s not alone and there are hundreds of similar craft-based books out there that do the same thing. It’s a project book and it’s got beautiful photographs of 42 things you can do with canvas, acrylic paint and a few bits and pieces to use as collage. Then, on the left-hand page, it tell you how to get that result. Yes, on the left-hand page. One page. This is not testing stuff. You also ought to be aware that it’s a 110-page paperback, so I’m not too sure about the “big” in the title, either.

The truth is, I’m being far too toffee-nosed about this. This website normally reviews fairly serious books about painting and it can, in its own little way, get as pretentious as the best of them. This book isn’t high art. It doesn’t have an author and the introduction is by “the editorial team”, so they can stand united and fall divided. If it was a cookery book, it would be one of those cut’n’paste recycled recipe ones for people who want to create an impressive looking meal without spending a week in the kitchen.

And you know what, that’s just fine. In fact, I’ve just realised just how just fine it is. It’s not for people who want to create high art. It’s for people who do actually want someone to tell them not just how to create a picture or whatever, but to come up with the idea in the first place. Hey, we can’t all be creative geniuses, but I bet that if you had a go at a few of these projects, you’d produce at least a halfway decent result and it might encourage you to go on a bit, try some ideas of your own and then, who knows, you might come back here and scour my hard-written words for something that’ll get you on to the next stage, and won’t I be pleased as Punch then?

If you don’t buy this for yourself, buy it for someone you love. It’s even got ideas for children in it. It’s a load of fun. Have some, why don’t you?

First published 2007

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