Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review: Quilling For Beginners

Quilling for Beginners by Jean Woolston-Hamey.  Published by Kangaroo Press, Simon and Schuster, 2004.  48 pages.

I rate it ... fair!


See my post about book reviews for details about my review criteria and biases.

I'm always concerned when I put up a less-than-stellar review of any product.  I'm well aware of the time and energy that goes into a creating a book, being an author myself.  But if one can't post an honest review of one's opinion, then what is the point of a review?  As always, this is only my opinion, and that of others may differ widely.

This is a relatively short (48 page) quilling book that introduces the art of quilling to beginners, and provides a few easy projects for them to try.  It ends with a gallery of those same projects done by children.

What I liked:
The book has nice, bright color images of projects.  My copy came with a small package of paper strips on the inside back cover, so a few projects could be tried immediately.

What liked less:
The tutorial for beginners is much too short, and misses out on some important techniques such as making roses.  Some potential resources and supplies are not mentioned that are standard in other books, such as fringers, molds and such.  The overall quality of the quilling in the projects is not high, showing uneven tension and very large open centers.  The projects themselves are not terribly interesting, and I don't think they will inspire children or adults to try the craft.  There is no history section, and the gallery space could have been used better with a few more advanced projects, rather than showing children's work.

Overall, as a collector, I felt compelled to buy it.  But for a beginner, there are much better quilling books on the market.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Review: Pretty Quilled Cards

Pretty Quilled Cards by Cecelia Louie.  Published by Lark Crafts, Sterling Publishing Company, 2014.  127 pages. (Review updated Aug 7, 2016)

I rate it ... very good!


See my post about book reviews for details about my review criteria and biases.

Pretty Quilled Cards is subtitled "25+ Creative Designs for Greetings and Celebrations."  I rarely put quilling on greeting cards, since such cards are hard to keep and store without marring the quilling (unless you leave them out or frame them.)  But I certainly have made quilled cards on occasion, and this book has a bevy of new designs for lovers of cards, tags, and such like.  I was also thrilled to find a quilling book with a relatively recent (2014) date - as I am looking to learn new techniques and am always on the hunt for new ideas.

It is a little difficult to rate the book, because it represents a significant departure from the "traditional" or even "modern" quilling in the books of the 2000's.  This book has more "innovative" or "new wave" quilling - emphasizing very loose coils and open outlines, rather than tight, lacy coils and borders that are completely filled in.  In fact, a lot of this isn't what I'd call quilling at all but instead "Paper Outlining" or "Paper Line Art" or even "Paper Collage."  This can be misleading for new quillers.  There are techniques in this book like 'softening' and 'scraping' that you won't find many other places.  The projects themselves are a little strange in terms of how they are presented, because every single strip of paper is shown with the necessary fold marks on it.  In other words, these designs show you specifically how and where to fold every single crease in every strip of paper.  This is different from other books, so it takes some getting used to.  So comparing this book directly to the other books I've reviewed isn't as straightforward as it could be.  But I'll give it a shot :)

What I liked:
New ideas and new designs.  Almost every project has something in it, however small, that I haven't seen elsewhere.  Even if it is just a trick of folding the paper, there is something new to be had.  The book is well illustrated and photographed, with lots of color pictures of projects.  The projects are highly detailed with copious instructions.

What I liked less:
The tutorial for beginners is not straightforward, and could cause some confusion.  There is a lot of coiling, opening, and recoiling of strips to achieve the effect the author wants to see in their quilling.  This may be necessary to achieve the very specific look and effects of this book, but is not at all necessary for many other forms of quilling.  This isn't mentioned, and a beginner could come away with the idea that this book shows the 'right' way to quill, and other books are 'wrong' rather than simply thinking of this as a different approach.  (Or perhaps a different craft altogether, such as "Paper Line Art" or simply "Paper Craft" etc.)  The projects often require use of a copier, or even color copier to get all of the pieces necessary - rather than emphasizing the use of materials a quiller might already have on hand.  There is no ancillary material at all, i.e. history, gallery of ideas, etc. (you know my bias.)

I wouldn't recommend the book for a beginner.  However, a practiced quiller who is looking for ideas for cards will find much to entertain themselves with here.  I'm glad it is on my shelf, even for the relatively high going price of a new, recent book (from $15 to $20).

Monday, November 2, 2015

Book Review: Quilled Flowers

Quilled Flowers by Alli Bartkowski.  Published by Lark Crafts, Sterling Publishing Company, 2012.  126 pages.

I rate it ... excellent!


See my post about book reviews for details about my review criteria and biases.

Quilled Flowers is subtitled "A Garden of 35 Paper Projects."  It starts with a solid tutorial and introduction to quilling supplies, then moves right into the flower projects.   There is no history section nor gallery. 

What I liked:
First of all, I was not expecting new ideas about flowers in any quilling book, given how overdone the subject is.  BUT I was pleasantly surprised by Quilled Flowers.  There are plenty of new ideas and designs in this book.  And this is a very pretty quilling book, with tons of color images all laid out very well.  In many cases there are close-ups of the finished work so you can see exactly what you are doing.  The quality of the quilling is generally good throughout the book (see below).  The finished projects are all quite aesthetically pleasing, and make you want to try them right away.  I think this book does well at achieving its goal.     

What I liked less:
I wanted the tutorial to be longer, more detailed, and just generally meatier.  And of course I wanted a gallery of amazing flower projects at the end ... I always want a gallery.  I was not impressed by the use of chalk and ink to change colors - this is just a bias of mine, where I like color variation to be achieved by the use of different kinds of papers, not inks.  I did note some inconsistency in the quality of the quilling (some flowers with larger open centers, large 'tags' in the center, etc.).

I think anyone will be able to find a project they like in this book, from beginner to advanced.  But I think it is more suited to the moderate level of quiller.  The paperback is going for less than $12, which I think is a fantastic price for what you get here.