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You can probably tell by how I make my living that I’m a bit of a craft geek, but I’m also a book geek, or at least an aspiring book geek. I read a lot (though a lot of it is books about knitting and crafts, which I somehow feel don’t count) and I’m consistently working toward making myself better read.
I love libraries and book stores and just wandering around, seeing what I can find. That’s a rare thing to have time to do these days, but such a treat when it’s possible.
When I heard about BiblioCraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects by Jessica Pigza, I knew I would love it. Combining books and craft? Sign me up.
This really is a fun book for those who love libraries and crafts. It’s sort of two books in one, a how to use the library to get inspired book and a project book.
Learn to Love the Library
The first part of the book is all about the different kinds of libraries that are out there, from your neighborhood library (if you live in a big city with more than one library) to university libraries and those at research institutions, even national libraries and collections that are only found online.
Pigza is a rare book librarian at the New York Public Library, so you know her advice is sound. She covers the basics of library categorization systems, what you’ll find in the catalog record for a book, how to use subject headings to find other books that might be useful, even a bit of etiquette and good stuff to know when planning a visit to a library or special collection.
This part of the book got my super-inspired to go visit the local university library when I get a chance. I haven’t been in years, but I get free access because I’m a member of the alumni association. It’s silly that I haven’t been using it all these years!
The second part of the book has a variety of projects inspired by different things found in the library. Pigza asked crafters about various things they were interested in and guided their research as they developed their projects, and the designers brought an interesting range of inspirations to the challenge, from soil profile charts to book end papers, woodcut alphabet samples to old government food pamphlets.
The projects cover a variety of crafts as well, including sewing, paper cutting, quilling and embroidery. There are pillows stitched with patterns from old watermarks, a bookplate and bookmark inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, a little girl’s dress complete with cats for the pockets drawn from a 1920’s illustrated edition of Heidi.
It’s really interesting to see how something from a book or a library collection could be used to inspire a craft that might not look like it was inspired by such a thing. There’s a wall hanging covered with crossed lines of embroidery that are actually the rhumb lines from an old map. Japanese heraldry inspired floral felt coasters, while those soil profiles were turned into a sweet and colorful growth chart.
I haven’t yet had the chance to craft from this book, but there are a lot of interesting projects here. Mary Corbet’s penmanship embroidery on a tea towel would make a great housewarming gift, while the patterned stationery set by Julie Schneider (inspired by wood block type samples) would be great for everyday note cards.
I love Ann Martin’s Quilled Willow Pendant, but I’ve never quilled before and I’m not sure I could pull it off. Pigza’s Felt Dogwood Blossoms would make adorable hair clips, and Brett Bara’s Patchwork Pyramids would be adorable bookends in a kids’ room (or to hold a book open while you read).
Each pattern includes ideas for other ways you might use the project, and many have more information on the inspiring materials, from victory gardens to illuminated manuscripts, should you want to do your own research.
For me, I think this book will inspire my own trips to the library and looking not just at old craft books, which I love to do, but delving into other subjects that might offer inspiration for different kinds of projects.
Do you go to the library for crafty inspiration? I’d love to hear about it!