Am I a Martha Stewart fan?  Hard to say.

I’ve always admired the fresh, clean look of her decorating and the impressive ways in which she fastidiously organizes her home and all her craft supplies, and I love the ways that she displays her expansive collections of dishes, pottery and linens.  Her bouquets are breathtaking, her gardens glorious, and her overall presentation outstanding.  So, why can’t I commit to being her fan?  The truth is, I would watch her T.V. show, open her magazine, thumb through one of her “best of Martha” books, and feel totally inadequate.  The rooms in my house bore no resemblance to the rooms she decorated, my dishes were Pfaltzgraff “folk art”, and since the sight of an earthworm could send me screaming and running as though I was being chased by Freddy Krueger, I wasn’t much of a gardener.  Three children and a full-time job made embossing paper napkins, baking fortune cookies, and blowing out 22 eggs for an Easter topiary highly unlikely.

Her powerful influence did, however,  inspire me to set an appealing table, use baskets in my decorating and to strive for organized cupboards and crisply ironed linens.  She made me aware that “attention to detail” made a huge difference.  Thanks to Martha,  I began to welcome guests by placing vases of fresh flowers around the house, lighting candles, and creatively folding cloth napkins.  Pretty gift bags, wrapping and ribbons were now a must.  But, most importantly, I became conscious of all the little things you can do that enhance entertaining and show you care.  On the rare occasion that someone would comment “very Martha Stewart!”, I was wildly flattered.

So… do I feel about her new Encyclopedia of Crafts?

What I like:

This is an impressive compilation of crafts and techniques in an “A to Z” format.  The photos are brilliant and abundant, and 32 projects are beautifully represented.  Each project contains a materials list and identifies the basic supplies you’ll need to complete it.  I especially like the XYZ section at the end of the book, where you’ll find pictures and detailed descriptions of all tools and materials, including adhesives, cutting tools, measuring tools, papers, paints and brushes, etc.  There are easy and intricate templates to follow, and in the “Sources” section you will find vendors, phone numbers and websites where you can purchase materials that may not be found at your local craft store.

Projects that I found particularly inspiring:

* Candlemaking.  Seems a bit crazy to me since pretty candles can be found anywhere, but there was something about the beauty and colors of her pine cone and birch log candles that struck me.

* Paper flowers.  Huge paper mums suspended over a party table….very pretty!

* Quilling.  Can’t wait to try the quilled-rose nosegay.

* Origami and paper folding.  I always loved making those little fortune-tellers!

* Soap making.  (great to include with my hand-knitted spa cloths)

Not so inspiring:

There are many projects in this book from which I draw little or no inspiration at all:  botanical pressing and printing, beaded bugs, rope crafts, wirework, pom pom animals, and more.  There are some that I’ve done in the past (decoupage, pine cone crafts, rubber stamping) that I have no interest in doing again.  And although I currently make beaded jewelry and do not require additional “how-to”, I did get some nice ideas on how to creatively present the jewelry I make!

I know this may sound like an old-lady thing but , honestly, the text in many sections is way too small to read (even with my specs on!) and in some cases too light, causing me to strain my eyes and lose my place.


I treasure this book because it was a gift to me from Alyssa, and I know (I think now we all know) how she feels about Martha.  I value this book as a resource guide and as a composite reference, and  I admire the beauty and quality of the book with it’s countless colorful photos.  Would I have purchased it for myself? Uh, no.  But I’m happy to add it to my library, and I look forward to sharing it with anyone who says, “I can’t make anything”.  Truly, there is something in this book for anyone who has the heart and desire to express themselves creatively, even if it starts with just a little sprinkle of glitter.


0 thoughts on “Big A’s Book Review: Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts

  1. lickitchen says:

    Hi Big A, you have completely captured America’s love/hate relationship with Martha in your review of the book. I feel the same way about many of her cookbooks (make puff pastry myself? Is she crazy?) But from an inspiration standpoint, Martha is the THE best and always will be.

    Love the blog!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words and taking the time to comment! Coming up…….. I have the “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” book that I hope to experiment with soon, and you’ll hear all about it :o) Love LIC Kitchen, and can’t wait to learn what “clafoutis” is! Take care and hope to see you guys soon!

  2. Your favorite Aunt says:

    Well Big A and Little A, I love watching Martha Stewart and love attempting some of her decorating ideas. However, I did get a chance to briefly thumb through her Encyclopedia in the bookstore, and it is totally a “yeah, right” issue for me.

    Although her ideas are wonderful and results (if followed exactly) are beautiful, I am confident that I will reap the benefits however, not with my own hands (lol). I think I will skip the pom-pom guys!!!

    Little “a”, love the ornaments on the tree!! Definitely sooooooooo Martha!!
    You are a chip off the ‘ol block.
    Someday I will convince you….think D I A M O N D S!!!!! They sparkle and will have the same effect!!!!