There is no denying it. I’m a Martha-phile.
The Saturday mornings of my adolescence and teenage years were spent watching Martha Stewart Living, basking in the beauty and order she sought to bring into America’s homes. Sure it wasn’t realistic to think anyone had the time to do half of things she did on that show, but I don’t think she intended for any of us to actually do all these things. She wanted to inspire us to try a little harder – to not take the easy route and just buy whatever the store had to offer, but to put effort into making our houses homes, our gatherings celebrations, and our everyday more beautiful. And I say, if that’s the lifestyle that Martha’s trying to sell us, put me down for 3. I’m sold!
When it comes to all things domestic, what I didn’t learn from my mother (and that’s not much), I learned from Martha. I have lots of books (note to everyone I know: when you don’t know what to get me, get me a Martha book!), I have a “Free Martha” t-shirt from those depressing prison days (I still wear it…), and I even auditioned for The Martha Stewart Apprentice (stood out in the rain for hours…). One Christmas, when I didn’t have enough money for ornaments, I spent days going through old MS Living magazines, scanning and re-printing photos (because I would never cut them up…) of projects I wished I could be doing that Christmas (like making swan profiteroles and gum-drop Santas) and cutting them all out into ornaments to decorate my whole tree. I was determined to have A Martha Stewart Christmas. And I did.
So, I was thrilled when I found out that Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts was in the works. It was a go from the second I read the title. I mean, I love Martha Stewart, I love encyclopedias, and I love crafts! How could I not pre-order it?
And when it arrived, I tell you, I was not disappointed (Dear The Crafts Dept. at MSLO, job well done! Love, Alyssa.). Just like all Martha books, the book itself is beautiful (marbelized inside covers… yummm…), the photography is beautiful and the content is inspiring and delightful. The Introduction explains that this volume is aimed at preserving historical and established techniques while adding a contemporary voice to keep them relevant and interesting to today’s crafters and artisans. Each chapter provides everything you need to get started with a completely new technique: it tells you what tools you’ll need, important tips, gives you multiple projects, and even templates. The best part: it’s all totally do-able. I remember crafts on the Living show that required power tools. Not here. A glue gun (ooo, second note to everyone I know – another great gift idea for me: cordless hot glue gun!!!), a bone folder, and, like, one specialty tool or material per project and you’re in business. For me, this really makes the book invaluable. To not only see all these techniques together, but to read ONE page and be able to say “Oh, that’s all there is to it? I can totally heat emboss!”… I think that’s just great.
So, I have here a list of the techniques and projects that I plan on trying.
- Specimen boxes
- Block Printing
- Botanical Printing (including sun printing, and botanical rubbing)
- Etching Glass
- Matting and Framing
- Glass Painting
- Paper Cutting
- Pom-pom Animals
- Rubber Stamping (including Heat Embossing!)
- Silk Screening
- Tin Punching
And another list of the techniques I am definitely not interested in trying:
- Candle Making
- Rope Crafts
- Soap Making
Sorry, I don’t do candles or soap… crafts that smell are just not my thing. Unless it smells like burning or really toxic adhesive… then I’m in. And Rope Crafts? I feel like Alexis because all it makes me want to say is “Whatever, Martha…” I know someone out there thinks that’s cute, but it ain’t me… I also am usually not into crafts involving pine cones, shells, or photographs, but I have to admit that some of the projects made me think twice about them. Christmas lights with shells as little ‘shades’ for each light — so pretty!
In closing, I’ll just say that if you’re interested in any kind of craft, this should be the next book in your collection. Or the first if you haven’t started one yet! It’s a great reference and, if you’ll excuse my geek a moment… “it’s a good thing.”
Oh! I almost forgot my favorite part of the book — it’s organized alphabetically. See? It’s all about beauty AND order…