Saturday, November 12, 2005

Book Review - Layer by Layer - Collage Projects for Home Decorating

Layer by LayerLayer by Layer: Collage Projects for Home Decorating
Publisher: Martingale and Company; (July, 2004)
ISBN: 1564775429
Paperback: 96 pages

Ready to expand your craftsmaking skills beyond the typical paper crafts project? Try applying collage to a well-worn or plain household item to give it new life. Take a boring wooden wastebasket, charger plate or clock base, decoupage a cut-out image or two, glue on a few embellishments, and apply your altered art skills to something the whole family can enjoy. That’s the premise behind Martingale & Company’s "Layer by Layer: Collage Projects for Home Decorating," a collection of 15 projects that tap into techniques near and dear to a paper crafter’s heart.

The projects in this paperback were created by multiple crafts artisans, rather than one author. There’s both good news and bad news with this particular compilation.

Readers can learn from the different techniques and tools used to apply materials to a variety of surfaces. For example, Saralyn Ewald favored pH Neutral PVA Adhesive and Spray Adhesive when layering background paper on her Collage Wastebasket (pages 9-12). By comparison, Genevieve A. Sterbenz preferred High-Tack White Glue and Matte-Finish Decoupage Glue when applying papers to a similar surface in her Travel Desk Box project (pages 77-80). Each approach produces a different look, increasing your personal knowledge of why you'd use one glue over another.

Is this book for beginning, intermediate or advanced collage artist? I’m not really sure. Some projects contain sparse instructions while others contain very wordy steps. I guess a mission statement of the targeted audience would have helped the authors gear their projects accordingly. But maybe the publishers wanted to address a variety of skill levels. Personally, I felt the book lacked consistency...and not just because of the varying difficulties among the projects.

Each of the 15 projects has step-by-step instructions and Designer’s Tip items in highlighted boxes. Not all of the tips are particularly insightful, as in "to reuse your foam brush, be sure to wash it..." A little obvious, right? In a few cases, the Designer’s Tip boxes were nothing more than filler.

Finally, if the editors wanted to create a collection of projects that all crafters could understand, they missed one important visual tool – step-by-step images. Sure, each project has at least one full-color photograph of the finished project. But the numbered instructions would have been infinitely clearer with the addition of thumbnails for each step. I’ve got to hand it to Genevieve, though. Her Cake Plate and Dome (pages 51-56) has detailed line drawings, complete with call-outs, to aid the crafter in positioning design elements. And Jill MacKay has a similar drawing in her Mosaic Candle Luminary (pages 41-45), along with its legend on tile colors.

By the way, not all of the projects in this book are based on paper crafting. You may have noticed that the last two projects use mosaic tiles. It doesn’t hurt to branch out of your comfort zone once in a while.

In summary, if you're looking for a book that meets one particular crafts interest or skill level, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a book with something for everyone plus an eclectic mix of teaching approaches, this is a good choice.

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  • Article Description: Transfer your paper crafting skills to home décor with this book for the collage lover

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