Books & Zines

Some new books

A few exciting books have turned up in my house this week that I thought you might be interested in.

First up, the newest book by the adorable Aranzi Aronzo – Aranzi Cute Stuff. It’s a straight translation from a similar Japanese book and is full of, well, cute stuff! Inside are patterns for how to make cute purses, bags, tissue holders, bottle holders, book covers, hairbands and all other manner of cuteness featuring the whole range of Aranzi Aronzo characters. Look at this below – a ridiculously cute animal scarf! I may just have to make this…

As you can see, each project comes with clear instructions with illustrations to help you work it all out. There’s even a section at the beginning explaining what different sewing terms mean and how to do various techniques that turn up throughout the book. It’s very very easy and even if you do get stuck, White Bunny is around to ask all your stupid questions first, and Brown Bunny knows all the answers.

This would be a great gift for a kid who was interested in making crafty things but not sure where to start. And also a great gift for people who like cute Japanese things. Even if you never make anything from the book, it’s just lovely to look at. I’m full of plans though and can’t wait to try out a few things. My only complaint is that they’ve just copied the book exactly from the Japanese which means there’s a few little confusing things, like putting the applique on what would be the back of a western book. Sure, it’s easy enough to swap that over but for someone who doesn’t know Japanese books read the other way round, they may not realise their mistake until it’s too late. Other that that, it’s definitely easy AND lots of fun, as White Bunny says, and pretty cheap at the price if you get it off Amazon.

Read on for more books.

Next up is The Crafters Pattern Sourcebook, a book full of patterns from around the world. My mum found this and it looks very useful indeed. Basically, the author has looked at patterns in architecture, textiles, furniture, jewellery, furniture etc. and redrawn elements clearly in black and white outlines. You can then trace these images and use them as a base for your own pattern design or for stencilling, embroidery, knitting, decoupage etc. The book is nicely organised by region with a few pages for each country or era with single elements, borders and repeating patterns. Above are some medieval patterns.

The images are nicely detailed without being confusing and there are a few colour pages at the beginning of each section to show some real life examples. There’s a lot of floral and animal patterns but also lots of unexpected things so there should be something for everyone. Above are some cute Danish patterns. There is also a chapter showing some techniques such as embroidery, beading and applique and it even comes with an acetate grid to help you work out cross stitch or needlepoint patterns. All in all, it’s a great resource though maybe something I wouldn’t have gone looking for. I’ve already picked out a few patterns I like and will be messing around with them in Illustrator soon I’m sure. There are quite a few second hand copies on Amazon so worth keeping an eye out for. Your library may also have something similar.

And finally, something a little different. Not exactly crafty, but definitely creative. Face Food is a book about Japanese bento lunches. Actually charaben to be precise – character bentos – which feature various popular Japanese characters. I’ve been a fan of bento for a long time and used to make mine almost every day at my last job, though obviously with nothing close to the skills of these Japanese women (and one awesome dad). There are little interviews with each bento maker and a few colour photos of their designs. These are not made specially for the book, but are actual bentos that the parents make 2 or 3 times a week for their children. Some are cute and some are fantastically detailed but all are healthy and edible.

It’s much shorter than I expected but still a lovely little book to look at. There are a few ideas in the back of how to get started with your own charaben but to be honest, you’re best starting with simple bentos and working your way up to the cuteness. My favourite bento site is Just Bento which is full of great recipes and tips as well as insights into the techniques and equipment. Lunch in a Box is also good for those with kids.

Hope you enjoyed this little look into my library!

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