The Best Thing You Could Do

“In our world, being an artist was the best thing you could do. That was my parents’ version of me being a dentist or a doctor or a lawyer.”

—Livia Cetti, in an interview with Martha Stewart Living

 

A new visitor to Abrams might be struck by the number of paper flowers in the office—cherry blossom branches are tucked into odd corners, and roses sit in pencil cups alongside prints by Robert Indiana and Fletcher Martin.

These were taught to us by Livia Cetti, whose first paper flower book was published here in 2014, and whose second—brighter, bolder—title is released this week. Livia describes The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations as “more me”—a quote she delivered along with a box of hand-dipped tissue paper and a bagful of clipped wire in the midst of an early-March snowstorm.

If that is the case, we are grateful for it! The startlingly realistic blooms are photographed by Kate Mathis against vibrant (near-neon) paint-spattered backdrops created by Livia herself, with the result that the book is as visually energizing as it is informative.

After a chapter on the deceptively simple dipping, cutting, and wrapping techniques that form the basis for each bloom (the most complicated items on a spread of tools are a hot glue gun and Fiskars zigzag scissors), readers learn step-by-step methods for 26 different flowers—from the globe-shaped Eden Rose and Hydrangea, to the arcs of Honeysuckle and Lily of the Valley, bells like Crocus and Narcissus, saucers, and even spikes: Delphinium, Lupine.

 Eden Rose by Livia Cetti, photograph by Kate Mathis

Eden Rose by Livia Cetti, photograph by Kate Mathis

From there it’s on to a dizzyingly beautiful “Part 2” filled with decorative projects: garlands, wreaths, a Blooming Chandelier, and even a Dutch Still-Life Centerpiece.

Cetti credits her success as floral designer to her time spent observing nature over a childhood in the mountains outside of Santa Barbara, and now in her own yard in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood. It’s a causal sequence that perhaps only sounds startling to city dwellers—we recognize her work from magazines and John Derian shops, ad campaigns for Burt’s Bees, or luxurious displays at Tiffany and Co. and the French ceramics boutique Astier de Villatte. But Cetti’s familiarity with her muses shines through on every page.

 Author, floral stylist, and paper flower artist Livia Cetti 

Author, floral stylist, and paper flower artist Livia Cetti 

Pore over a sample of The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations below, or try your hand at two of the simplest projects here, or at The House that Lars Built.

We are also giving away several of her paper flower kits on Instagram! Until Friday, April 7 try The House that Lars Built, and check back over the next few weeks with Paper Trail and Flax and Twine

 

 

Two Projects for Easy Spring Maintenance

Spring may be the "time of plans and projects" but these slightly milder days demand more time in the sun when we can find it! Today’s crop of craft titles yields a pair of easy ways to keep two things in good working order: your wooden spoons and your relationships. Who can do without those?

Max Bainbridge graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design before setting up Forest + Found with his partner, quilter Abigail Booth. Based out of a workshop in his East London garden, Max works with sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood to hand carve and turn bespoke kitchen and homeware.

Max’s book, Heirloom Wood, is a beautifully photographed and clearly written guide to sourcing your own wood, setting up a basic toolbox, and then creating your own hand-carved bowls, cutting boards, spoons, spatulas, and more. He uses his own recipe for beeswax salve on every piece, to bring out the “natural color and patina of the grain.”

We recommend it even if you haven’t carved a thing—woodenware treated this way is not only protected against moisture, it stays usable, washable, and completely food-safe.

 Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in  Heirloom Wood .

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in Heirloom Wood.

Beeswax Salve

Excerpted from Heirloom Wood

This recipe will give you a large mason jar of salve, which should last you a good amount of time.

Tools and materials:

1 quart (1 liter) pure mineral oil

18 ounces (500g) pure beeswax pellets

large saucepan

heat source

mason jar

kitchen towel

1. Sterilize the mason jar using boiling water, or put it through a dishwasher cycle. Start by measuring out 18 ounces (500g) of beeswax pellets and 1 quart (1 liter) of mineral oil. The basic ratio is two parts mineral oil to one part beeswax. 

2. Pour the oil into a large saucepan and set the heat to its lowest setting. Add the beeswax and heat gently until the pellets start to dissolve. Stir very gently to ensure the two ingredients have combined thoroughly. As soon as the mixture is clear, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Let the beeswax and oil cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour the mixture into the mason jar. Be careful in case the liquid is still hot.

4. Set aside and leave the lid open. Place a kitchen towel over the jar to ensure nothing drops in. Allow the salve to cure overnight and, once it is completely cool, it will set and turn cloudy. It is then ready to use.

5. Use a lid with a rubber gasket to seal the jar, and store in a cool, dark place.

Salve from Heirloom Wood

A long way away across the equator, Australian-Lithuanian photographer and designer Ebony Bizys had worked at Vogue magazines for 11 years before realizing, in 2010, that she felt most alive on her vacations to Japan, and making the move permanent.

Ebony Bizys

Since moving to Tokyo, Ebony has art directed books, hosted solo exhibitions, designed a Japanese fashion website, been commissioned by Vogue Japan to make artworks for their publication, collaborated with Japanese masking tape brand mt, and on a fashion line with Romance was Born, styled for various magazines, trend reported for various companies and written for magazines including Vogue, British Airways, Inside Out, Real Living and Frankie. She chronicles her daily life in Tokyo at her blog Hello Sandwich.

Ebony describes the book Hello Tokyo as “a hard copy of the blog, with stories about living in Tokyo, projects to create a cute Tokyo-inspired lifestyle, and pages on collaborations and past projects.” We love her tips on picnics and party decorations, but most importantly, the entire chapter on correspondence!

Ebony recommends making your own envelopes as “a fun and simple way to set the mood for when the recipient opens their mailbox to find this handmade surprise. Plus, you’ll never have to spend money on envelopes again!”

 

Envelopes from Hello Tokyo

 

7 Ideas for Handmade Envelopes

Excerpted from Hello Tokyo

Fabric-covered envelopes

Idea 1: Fabric-covered envelopes 

Cover paper with pretty fabric before folding to make an unexpected envelope. Use spray adhesive to stick fabric to the envelope base, then use craft bond glue to hold the flaps in place. Line the envelope with tracing paper or patterned waxed paper.

Mini envelopes

Idea 2: Mini envelopes 

These come in handy when you need to give someone something teeny, such as money or tickets. It’s also a great way to use up small pieces of cute paper. Adding a mock stamp is a fun way to play with scale, don’t you think?

Window envelopes

Idea 3: Window envelopes 

Here’s an envelope that lets you sneak a peek: Cut out a window shape with scissors or a craft knife. I also like to use a Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch. Apply transparent paper to the back of the window using glue tape around the edges.

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Idea 4: Envelope templates 

I like to keep a stash of envelope templates on hand; however, if you don’t have an envelope template, you can easily make one from an existing envelope. Gently open up the glued edges, being careful not to damage the paper. Et voilà, your very own envelope template! Trace this opened-out envelope onto card stock to create a template built to last the crafter’s mile!

Hand-painted envelopes

Idea 5: Hand-painted envelopes 

Have you ever finished painting and been left with excess paint on your palette? If I find myself in this situation I like to paint pieces of paper in simple patterns, such as stripes, dots, or freestyle designs, to create decorative paper that can be used later for various craft purposes, such as original handmade envelopes.

Eyelet circle-closure envelopes

Idea 6: Eyelet circle-closure envelopes 

Use an eyelet punch and a circle of cardboard to create a unique closure for your envelope.

Transparent envelopes

Idea 7: Transparent envelopes 

Experiment with various transparent papers such as kitchen waxed paper, tracing paper, tissue paper, and translucent contact paper (with the sticky sides sealed together). If the paper is slightly creased, I like to scrunch it and smooth it out two or three times to enhance the textured effect. Use POSCA pens or other markers to add color. Some waxed papers can be pesky with glue, so craft bond glue might be your best bet. Colorful washi tape along the joins can add security and a nice design effect.

Both Hello Tokyo and Heirloom Wood are on shelves today! Take a peek at the books below.

A World of Artist Journal Pages is here!

Next up in our list of spring releases is A World of Artist Journal Pages by Dawn Sokol!

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Art journaling is typically a private activity, but anyone who has ever journaled knows that there's no inspiration quite like seeing the work of other artists you admire. In this colorful and exciting new book, Dawn Sokol breaks into the journals of over 230 artists from all over the world to showcase a selection of over 1000 captivating pages.

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As an added bonus, behind-the-scenes interviews, plus a list of techniques and materials used for each page, give you a glimpse inside the minds and toolboxes of new and established artists.

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A World of Artist Journal Pages is available now, everywhere books are sold! Check at our gallery of sample pages and scoot over to Dawn Sokol's blog for Q&A outtakes.

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And enter to win a free copy by entering Dawn's giveaway before April 28 here.

Holiday Decorating with STC Craft

While some people rush to pick out their tree and pin up their stockings as soon as stores open their doors for Black Friday sales, some of us need a bit more time to get into the holiday spirit. With a potentially calm weekend ahead and only a few weeks left to the holidays, here at STC Craft we are looking to take a load off, cozy up, and get crafting--this time, for our homes!

Won't you enjoy these projects with us?!

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Pinecone Wreath from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Secret Message Snowflakes from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Tabletop Tree from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Candy Stripe Christmas Stocking from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

Chenille Poinsettia Garland from Handcrafted Christmas by Susan Waggoner

For more holiday (and every day!) decorating ideas, check out these books:

Happy Weekend and Happy Crafting from your friends at STC Craft!

This Thanksgiving, perfect your table alongside your menu

When we're planning the holidays, the meal often gets the spotlight and everything else is on the backburner (literally!)

With only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, we have some crafting ideas from our 2014 releases that won't take too much of your attention away from the turkey, but will have your home looking as effortlessly festive as your main course. Take a look for some weekend inspiration:

Moveable Feast Table Runner & Napkins from Novel Living by Lisa Occhipinti

Vibrant Party Centerpiece from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

Wreath from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

 

Japanese Heraldry Coasters from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Paper Towns from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

 Cuts of Meat Table Runner from BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

 

Novel Living is coming to a bookshelf near you

As a book publisher, naturally we are always thinking about the physicality of books: how they look, feel, and smell; how they fit into our lives (both literally and figuratively); how they can transcend physical form to shape our very reality.

In our latest release, Novel Living, Lisa Occhipinti celebrates physical books and the many ways they enrich our lives, especially in this digital era. She shares her unique ideas for collecting and displaying them, for conserving and preserving them, and for crafting with them. 

Feeling intrigued? Check out the cover. That DIY wallpaper in the photo features library pockets. Cool, right?

Here's a standard wooden ladder transformed into modern bookshelving.

 This is a Book Sling Lisa uses in her guest room and chooses the books to hang on it according to her guest's interests.

And these beautiful Page Poufs are an artistic statement composed of book pages.

Want to see more? Check out our Novel Living image gallery, the gallery for Lisa's first book The Repurposed Library, plus these "Five Genius Decor Ideas" from Novel Living that were featured in the Huffington Post last week.

Today's Bloom: The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

Though it's a rainy Tuesday here in New York, a little burst of spring has arrived, with Livia Cetti's The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers: A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms, in stores today!

 

 

The country’s premiere paper-flower artist, author Livia Cetti is known for her high-style, gorgeous tissue and crepe-paper flowers—which are often mistaken for real flowers.

 

In The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers, for the first time Cetti shares her techniques for hand crafting popular blooms, including peonies, poppies, roses, and hibiscus, and for combining them to create garlands, centerpieces, wreaths, corsages, and boutonnieres.

 

 

Whether your goal is to decorate for a spring wedding or shower, celebrate a birthday or graduation, or just add a bit of color to your home, you'll find endless inspiration in the pages of this step-by-step guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View our image gallery for more stunning photos from this book, plus a cherry blossom tutorial from a recent issue of InStyle! We know what we'll be doing on this rainy afternoon....

Holiday Gift Guide: 12 Books for Crafters

From Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson

We all know one—that person who makes the perfect gifts every year without fail. This year, why don't you return the favor! Whether you want to please a Jill-of-all-trades or the hardcore artist, these books are guaranteed to delight any DIY maven on your list.

For the dabbler:

Lena Corwin's Made By Hand; The BUST DIY Guide to Life; The Gentle Art of Domesticity


For the weekend crafter:

Tiny World Terrariums; Weekend Handmade; Modern Paper Crafts


For the décor-obsessed:

Past & Present; The Repurposed Library; Crafting a Meaningful Home



For the art-inclined:

Art Doodle Love; Printing by Hand; Heather Ross Prints

8 Quick and Easy Personalized Gifts To Make (And Finish!) This Weekend

There's no better way to make someone feel special than with a unique and personalized gift. But creating a one-of-a-kind handmade offering doesn't always have to be time-consuming! This weekend, pull out your craft supplies and channel your loved ones with one of our favorite quick and easily customizable projects:

Silhouettes on Canvas from Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco


Stationery Suite from Heather Ross Prints by Heather Ross


Empire-Inspired Plates by Julia Rothman for Past & Present by Amy Azzarito

Happy Birthday Pillow from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson


Biographical Bracelet from The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti


Customized Mugs from The BUST DIY Guide to Life by Laurie Henzel & Debbie Stoller


Printed Notebooks from Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin

 

Made-By Patch from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

Crafting for Dad + Free Book Giveaway!

Dads are kind of hard to shop for, right? Ask a typical dad what he wants for Father's Day and he'll likely shrug his shoulders and--with a smile, of course--say "I don't know." I don't think that they mean to torture us with their ambiguity. For many dads, it's simply a matter of not really having much of a wish list. Except maybe love, a little respect, and for someone to laugh at their corny jokes (or at least make fun of them). 

But for those of us who want to give a gift beyond love, respect, and laughter, we have to get a little creative. Lucky for crafty types, we've got creativity in spades!

For the knitters amongst us, look no further than Knits Men Want. As the subtitle states, it's all inclusive: "The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man--Plus the Only 10 Patterns She'll Ever Need." A few photos from the book are shown below, including lots of quick-knits for Dad, and even a few dude-approved sweaters. And for another classic dad gift with a knitterly twist, try your hand at the Rusted Elegant Tie from Knitting Classic Style (shown above). Father's Day is June 19--just over a month away--so get out your needles and get crackin'!

 

For the non-knitters amongst us--or for those who are pressed for time--we've got more great ideas for handmade dad gifts. Shown below, clockwise from top left:

Gus's Dog Bed from Printing by Hand (A screen-printed fabric that is then sewn into a pillow--this is the perfect gift for Dad and his best buddy.)

Pickles from Alabama Studio Style (Several recipes for making homemade pickles for Dad. Perfect for sandwiches or for a Bloody Mary brunch on Father's Day.)

Hexagon Storage Bin from Modern Paper Crafts (A receptacle you can make yourself to hold anything from fishing rods to recycled papers.)

Pajamas for Everyone from Weekend Sewing (An easy-to sew project for every member of the family. If the Dad in your life is a lounger, this is the perfect gift for him.)

Story Time Clock from The Repurposed Library (A unique clock, perfect for Dad's den or office. Pick a book tailored to his interests (golf, baseball, computers, a volume of an outdated encyclopedia featuring the first letter of his initials, or maybe even an old cookbook for culinary types).

Decoupaged Fridge from Crafting a Meaningful Home (A cool way for Dad to remember his favorite city. Or if he's more of a nature guy, use maps from a hiking trail. If Mom won't let you decoupage the fridge, consider decoupaging him a tackle box or a stepladder...or something else that can stay in the garage.)

So, readers, we hope this post gets your creative juices flowing! Tell us which of these gifts your Dad would like the most in the Comments section and you'll autmatically be entered to win the STC Craft book of your choice (see the choices here). Enter by noon on June 1. Three winners will be picked at random and notified that day. 

For official sweepstakes rules, click here.

From The Repurposed Library: A New Sewing Box

If you’re reading this blog, you are most likely a person who A) loves crafts, and B) loves books. If you meet both of those criterion, then chances are you'll be interested in one of our newest STC Craft titles: The Repurposed Library.

When we first acquired this book nearly two years ago, e-readers were new on the scene. The Nook may not have existed yet, but we could see which way the wind was blowing. The Repurposed Library felt like the perfect response to a tech-savvy world that’s changing before our eyes. Both ironic and beautiful, The Repurposed Library presents craft projects to make, literally, out of old books, lifting obscure tomes off of dusty shelves, and putting them in a new light. 

I edited this book and worked closely with the author, Lisa Occhipinti, from beginning to end. When I finally decided to make a project from the book, I was drawn to so many things—from the decorative book bursts made from folded book pages to the shelves made from a sturdy stack of drilled hardcovers—but the sewing box seemed like an excellent choice for me since I love to sew and am constantly leaving my notions about. Shown above is the inside of my finished sewing box, and below is what it looks like when it's closed.

I must say, the hardest part of making this project was picking out the book. As a book lover, it is very hard to find a book you feel okay about putting under the knife. Especially with old books, there’s a certain amount of reverence—a sense that it has been passed through many hands, perhaps loved, perhaps not—and that you are now the keeper of this book in a vast "world library." So, I’m not going to lie: I bought four used books before I found the one I felt okay about transforming into a sewing box. Luckily, Lisa provides us with a very helpful section on selecting books—from how to identify first edition and rare books (which you should not cut up) to the importance of evaluating sentimental value—so when I found the book I wanted, I felt good about my choice.

I chose an old Reader’s Digest Condensed Book from the 1950s. The books in this series all have wonderful, decorative hardback covers hiding beneath their jackets, and almost no value whatsoever. As an added bonus, there are cute little illustrations throughout, which I’ve been cutting out and gluing onto homemade cards (shown below is a card I sent to my mom for Mother’s Day…)

The sewing box project couldn’t have been easier. To get started, you simply remove the pages from the book with two slices of an Xacto knife down the inside spine (the pages will all be glued or sewn together, so they come out in one big chunk). Then you measure your balsa wood, which you can find in sheets at craft or art supply stores, and trim it to size with an Xacto knife (the wood is very soft and easy to cut through). Then comes the fun part: You get out your hot glue gun and glue the compartments in place! I managed to complete all of these steps, beginning to end, in under two hours.

If you’d like to try your hand at making the sewing box, download the instructions here! And if you’d like to see more projects from the book, click here.

STC Craft Presents: A Book Trailer for The Repurposed Library


Say what you will about the convenience of e-readers—in my opinion, nothing could ever replace the feel of a real book. Fellow bibliophiles, take note: our May release The Repurposed Library offers a creative antidote to the digital age. Author and artist Lisa Occhipinti rescues old and orphaned books, transforming their careworn hardcovers and yellowed pages into stylish home decor and objets d'art. Her collection of 33 projects includes a Literary Lampshade, a Story Time Clock, and Narrative Vases (click here for an image gallery).

To mark the launch of The Repurposed Library, STC Craft is proud to present a beautiful trailer produced by Lisa herself. Enjoy this peek inside her studio; hopefully you'll be inspired to think outside the bookshelf and breathe new life into a book of your own.

Oliver + S Paper Dolls: Another Day at the Office

Obviously, the main attraction of Oliver + S Little Things to Sew is Liesl Gibson's impeccably designed sewing patterns for children. But a major perk are the charming paper dolls that come with it--a boy and a girl, which you'll find on a piece of perforated cardstock at the back of the book. To dress the paper dolls, you (or your kids) can cut out the "clothing" from the book's jacket.

We spent a lot of time working with our printer to get the cardstock just right--it's never fun to play with a flimsy paper doll! Another consideration was the lamination on the jacket--too much lamination and the tabs on the clothing wouldn't bend properly; too little and they might tear. When we thought we had the balance just right, we felt it was only prudent to have someone take the dolls and clothing for a "test run." (Also, don't we all need an excuse to play with paper dolls at work?) We asked Wesley Royce, an assistant editor at STC, to take on this very important job, and we certainly didn't have to ask twice.

Wesley happily set about her task, cutting out clothing and dressing her dolls, and lthen we played with them at our desks, pleased to confirm that all of the tabs bent back just so and the dolls stood tall and proud. Another day at the office.

STC Craft Spring Books in Bloom

 

It's not quite spring outside--no daffodils poking through the soil yet--but there are signs of spring in our office and in bookstores and craft stores everywhere. STC Craft's spring 11 collection is making its way to retailers now. First up are Oliver + S: Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson and A Knitter's Home Companion by Michelle Edwards. Modern Paper Crafts by Margaret Van Sicklen is being released next week. You can see sample pages from these three books by clicking on the covers in the right-hand margin. Upcoming soon are The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti, Loop-d-Loop Lace by Teva Durham, and Stitch Magic by Alison Reid. You can see photo galleries for all of these books (except for Stitch Magic but stay tuned) by clicking on their respective titles under "Galleries" in the right-hand margin. The weather where I live is cold and wet today, but the views inside these books are bright and beautiful. Spring is on its way.

 

Liana's Valentine Treat Boxes


Last weekend I decided to make the Treat Boxes from Modern Paper Crafts: A 21st-Century Guide to Folding, Cutting, Scoring, Pleating, and Recycling by Margaret Van Sicklen. I bought some pretty "Valentine" papers from the stationery store down the street from our office and, with some trepidation because I thought it might be hard, I got started. After several basic folds, I only found myself stumped once--when I reached the step where the box pops up into its 3-D form. But after an "ah-ha" moment, the walls sprung into shape and the box bottom was done. Amazingly, the whole production only took about 5 minutes. After another 5 minutes, I had the box lid done, and then I quickly folded several more. Soon enough, I didn't even need to look at the instructions anymore! I was addicted. Boxes surrounded me. 

Modern Paper Crafts won't be on sale until April, but we'd love it if you would preorder. In the meantime, check out some sample pages here, and make some beautiful boxes of your own (click here for the instructions--our Valentine's Day gift to you).

One more thing: If you want to add a sweet Valentine treat, try the Soft Candy Caramels from another STC book, Baked Explorations. Melanie made a batch last fall and they're irresistible. Click here to download the recipe.

V&A Patterns

I always love looking at books that showcase different patterns, so I was thrilled when I found out that that we (meaning Abrams, the company I work for and of which STC Craft is a part) would be distributing V&A Pattern, a series of pattern books from the publishers at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Each book includes over 65 pattern images, plus a CD with jpeg files of all of the images, ready to be viewed and manipulated for any non-commerical use. Below is a sampling of four of the patterns from each book. I love the idea of using these patterns to make customized stuff, such as gift wrap, note cards, notebook covers, screen savers, bookmarks, origami paper (or paper for nearly any paper craft), the list could go on and on. A few weeks ago my friend Hannah and I got together and made notebooks with patterns from the Fifties. I'll post a photo as soon as I take a decent one.

 

       
The Fifties      
William Morris      
Indian Florals      
Digital Pioneers