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40 Awesome Books for the Arts & Crafts Mind

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Talented designers and crafters can come from anywhere, but not everyone has the aptitude to create. There’s something about working with arts and crafts that appeals to a specific streak of creativity in some people that just can’t be replicated, whether it’s a gift for woodworking, a penchant for sewing and clothing, or an ability to turn household objects into holiday ornaments. The books below are guaranteed to inspire those readers with an eye for design to create some fantastic arts and crafts. As for the rest of us, well, there’s always a "For Dummies" instruction guide.


From weekend projects to home renovations, these books will teach you how to work better with wood.

  1. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture and Cabinet Construction, Andy Rae: Pretty much what the title says. This bestselling book is a great guide to building your own cabinets, which can cut costs when it’s time to renovate your home. Plus, more rewarding.
  2. The Home Machinist’s Handbook, Doug Briney: Briney’s excellent guide to machining is required reading for do-it-yourself machine workers. Comes with project guides, too.
  3. The Joint Book, Terrie Noll: There’s more to joints than just sticking two pieces of wood together. This indispensable look at joinery is a necessary reference guide for carpenters of all stripes.
  4. Tree Houses You Can Actually Build: A Weekend Project Book, David & Jeanie Stiles: What I wouldn’t have given for my parents to have read this book. This guide will help you harness your creativity and skill to create a great treehouse over the course of a weekend. You might even want to build one for your kids.
  5. Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship, Peter Korn: Whether you’re a beginner in the field or just looking to hone your existing skills, this in-depth guide makes a great choice.
  6. Building Kitchen Cabinets, Udo Schmidt: You want cabinets? You want Udo Schmidt, a professional cabinet maker. This great title in the "Build Like a Pro" series will help woodworkers generate awesome results and one-of-a-kind projects.
  7. Learn to Turn: A Beginner’s Guide to Woodturning from Start to Finish, Barry Gross: The practice of wood turning, or shaping wood on a lathe, takes years to master, but this book will give you a jump start by teaching you everything you need to know. A solid guide for beginners as well as a smart resource for those who’ve been crafting for a while.

Paper Crafts

From collages to models to puzzles to cards, these paper works are sure to please.

  1. Card Making with Cricut, Tanya Fox: Using the Cricut paper cutter, you can make a variety of cards and designs that are detailed in this informative and fantastic guide.
  2. The Cardmaker’s Workbook: The Complete Guide to Design, Color, and Construction Techniques for Beautiful Cards, Jenn Mason: Homemade cards can carry so much more emotional weight than store-bought ones. They’re unique and always welcome. This all-encompassing guide will have you producing fantastic cards in no time.
  3. Absolute Beginner’s Origami, Nick Robinson: Everyone plays around with origami in elementary school, but this illustrated guide will take you to the next level. A great practice for those looking to clear their minds while crafting.
  4. 175 Fresh Card Ideas: Designs to Make and Give Throughout the Year, Kimber McGray: It’s safe to say that this book will make sure you’re never without a card for a special occasion. It has 175 ideas, which means you could pretty much give someone a new card every other day for an entire year. Ideal for birthdays and graduations.
  5. Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations, and Exploratory Projects, Bee Shay: Bee Shay’s brightly ilustrated collage lab is split up into 52 units, allowing readers to tackle a new collage every week. Fun, easy to use, and designed to inspire you to create your own designs.
  6. Coloring Techniques for Card Making, Tanya Fox: This smart guide will help you master three different media when creating your own cards: watercolor, colored pencils, and alcohol ink. A great guide for craft-minded card makers looking to elevate their designs.
  7. Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials, Jeannine Stein: This is a fantastic idea, and one that’s environmentally kind to boot. Stein’s book teaches crafters how to take ordinary items that are often destines for the trash can and turn them into eye-catching homemade book covers. Great for home crafts or gifts.
  8. The Pop-Up Book: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating Over 100 Original Paper Projects, Paul Jackson: There’s something about pop-up books that takes everyone back to childhood, and this title will help you recapture that magic by teaching you how to make a variety of enjoyable pop-up designs. Great illustrations make this guide a must-have.
  9. Delight in the Details: 40+ Techniques for Charming Embellishments and Accents, Lisa M. Pace: This paper craft guide is designed to improve your projects by helping your focus on the final touches and little flourishes that really make a project pop. Makes a great companion for those who are familiar with the basics.
  10. Bookcraft: Techniques for Binding, Folding, and Decorating to Create Books and More, Heather Weston: Making your own books isn’t just a project for scrapbooking enthusiasts; it’s also a great way to make journals, photo albums, or special books for children. This comprehensive DIY guide will take you through the process from start to finish, ensuring that the books you make will be one of a kind.
  11. Paper + Craft: 25 Charming Gifts, Accents, and Accessories to Make from Paper, Minhee and Truman Cho: This book comes from the founders of Paper + Cup Design and offers more than two dozen enjoyable paper projects from picture frames to place cards. A great way to put a personal touch on parties and presents.

Holiday Projects

The onset of fall means the arrival of the holidays. Use these guides to decorate your home and make creative gifts throughout the season.

  1. Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities, Dan Reeder: For all its low-rent glory, papier-mache still has the ability to make some genuinely creepy costumes. The projects in this book are guaranteed to make your kid a hit at Halloween, or to liven up the office party.
  2. Zombie Felties: How to Raise 16 Gruesome Felt Creatures from the Undead, Nicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate: Zombies aren’t typically cuddly — the whole "trying to eat your brains" thing tends to sour the relationship — but this enjoyable craft book will have you turning out what have to be the cutest zombies ever made. Awesome Halloween gifts, or treats for kids.
  3. Kids in the Holiday Kitchen: Making, Baking, Giving, Jessica Strand: October means it’s time to start thinking about Christmas (sad but true), so it’s never too early to pick up this holiday guide to crafty gifts made from food items. Your friends will thank you.
  4. Tilda’s Christmas Ideas, Tone Finnanger: Get your Santa sewing on with this fantastic and finely illustrated book about Christmas crafts. Includes everything from snowmen to angels, so you’re covered for secular and religious celebrations alike.
  5. FamilyFun Homemade Holidays: 150 Festive Crafts, Recipes, Gifts & Parties, Deanna F. Cook (editor): You know those felt mice with candy cane tails that seem to reside in preschools nationwide? This is where they come from. The FamilyFun guide to holiday crafts had more than 150 ideas, which means you’ll never be at a loss for party decorations or treats for guests.
  6. Holiday Knits: 25 Great Gifts from Stockings to Sweaters, Allison Isaacs and Sara Lucas: Winter holidays are the ideal time to make and receive homemade knit gifts, which makes this book indispensable. You can even learn to make your own stockings.
  7. Holiday Fun: Painting Christmas Gourds, Sammie Crawford: If you’ve ever wanted to get into gourd art, this is the book for you. You’ll learn how to paint and decorate gourds to make snowmen, Santa, and anything that looks like it has a big belly and tiny head.
  8. Candy Cane Lane: Quilts and More to Sweeten the Holidays, Melinda Bula: Simple but wonderful quilts make this book a great resource for crafters at all levels. It also makes a great gift for the seamstress in your house.
  9. Home for the Holidays: Creative Ideas for Making the Holidays Memorable, Hallmark Occasions: Most people don’t have the time to undertake ornate decorating projects, which is why this book keeps things simple and relatively inexpensive.
  10. Jewish Holiday Origami, Joel Stern: Lest you forget that Christmas is the only game in town, this paper craft guide to Jewish origami shapes will help you make enjoyable decorations for all holiday occasions.
  11. All New Crafts for Thanksgiving, Kathy Ross: Aimed squarely at elementary schoolers, this handy book is packed with projects kids will love that won’t require too much work. Great for keeping little ones occupied when school’s not in session.

Sewing and Knitting

Use these great books to create clothes, bags, and gifts.

  1. More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, Joelle Hoverson: Defying the popular wisdom that knitting takes months out of your life, this wonderful book from Joelle Hoverson features gifts you can make in as little as two hours. Pretty much unbeatable.
  2. Aran Knitting: New and Expanded Edition, Alice Starmore: Aran knitting takes its name from an island off the Irish coast, with sweaters known for their intricate and often heavily cabled patterns. This wonderful title includes about 15 designs.
  3. Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere, Julie Turjoman: Drawing on knitters and creators from the blogging world, this enjoyable book covers the basics of knitting while teaching readers how to make more than two dozen sharp designs.
  4. Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks!, Judith Durant (editor): A perfect example of how common components can be reworked to make something unexpected, this title teaches readers how to make dozens of different items from sock yarn, including baby clothes, mittens, and hats.
  5. Cowl Girls: The Neck’s Big Thing to Knit, Cathy Carron: Refuse to go along with the crowd. Let this book show you how to make beautiful and unconventional scarves and coverings.
  6. The Knitter’s Year: 52 Make-in-a-Week Projects — Quick Gifts and Seasonal Knits, Debbie Bliss: Books like this one are fantastic because they take some of the mythology out of crafting and show you how to make simple but enjoyable products in a reasonable amount of time. Each project only takes a few days.
  7. Sew Everything Workshop: The Complete Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide with 25 Fabulous Original Designs, Including 10 Patterns, Diana Rupp: From picking out your first sewing machine to dealing with advanced patterns, this awesome title will boost your skill and creativity as you learn how to make everything from scarves to nighties.
  8. Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags, Amy Butler: For women looking for a bag that stands out from the rest, it’s hard to beat this hip and engaging guide to creating your own.
  9. Sew Serendipity: Fresh and Pretty Designs to Make and Wear, Kay Whitt: By mixing and matching the pattern variations in this book, you can come up with almost 20 look combinations. There’s no better way to freshen up your wardrobe than with something homemade and crafty.
  10. 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips: Top-Rated Favorites from Sewing Fans and Master Teachers, Deepika Prakash: There’s no other way to sell this than to just repeat the title: this book has 1,000 tips and tricks for tailors, seamstresses, and anyone who’s ever put needle to thread.
  11. Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love, Hillary Lang: The cute and simple dolls in this book make perfect gifts for children or decorations for your home on special occasions. If there’s a theme to this list, it’s one captured by this book: homemade gifts always have more heart.

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