Bringing Out the Crafty in U

A week or so ago, the folks at Simon & Schuster had asked whether I'd be interested in taking a look, and possibly reviewing, a new crafting book of theirs. Given I'm the madwoman who'd decided it might be fun to varnish Marshmallow Peeps and turn them into Easter decor, I really couldn't resist a look-see. So today, we're going to take a gander at Rosie O'Donnell's Crafty U book, a clever compilation of craft ideas parents can do with their children to while away a rainy day-- or big kids like me might use to get new crafting ideas.

Now, up-front I want to say, this isn't a paid review or anything. Just like I don't have advertising on my hobby sites, I don't do paid reviews, either. To me, it's about learning and not endorsing. So this was done just because I like to mix things up here on The Thrft Shop Romantic, and this seemed like a topic we might all enjoy.

In fact, when I got the book, I set out to examine it with a harsh, critical eye. While crafting is fairly subject to taste, how many of us haven't seen craft project which seems to serve little purpose, just isn't that pleasing to the eye, or appears to be more trouble than it's really worth? (Macrame owls come to mind.)

But this book addressed my overall concerns quite well. Projects range from simple efforts which can be done from things you'd already have around the house, to more elaborate endeavors which would likely require a trip to the craft or fabric store. We follow Rosie and her young crafters throughout the year, so projects are arranged seasonally, though many could be adapted and enjoyed year-round.

In addition to the projects themselves, the book discusses how quality craft time can help children and parents learn and grow together. It also encourages crafters not to follow plans specifically, but to use instructions to get the creative juices going. I appreciated the spirit of that.

You can see just a few of the spreads here. From Halloween costumes which involve little sewing (though some help from Mom or Dad) to science projects and cute projects which the young'uns can use to decorate their rooms, there's a nice mix of ideas here. I was also pleased to see both Hanukka and Kwanzaa were included, in addition to Christmas, within the winter holidays section.

Now because this is a cheap romantic decorating blog, I thought I'd especially share with you a couple of the crafts I think can be used or altered a little for nice home decorating projects. My favorite is the glitter shells below. How cute would these be as a part of a centerpiece for a summer picnic? Or on a package as a special little extra?

It's one of those projects I can't believe I never thought of doing myself sooner!

I liked this pounded leaf art for a wall display, too. I would need to try it out (I apologize that time didn't permit) to see if it works the way the instructions indicate. But the idea is nice and the end-product has potential to be fairly elegant.

Given a number of us here are into paper and cardboard crafts with a vintage look, I thought you all might like seeing these party pinwheels for the Fourth of July. What a simple project, and yet the effect is really festive.

Lastly, I got a kick out of these decoupaged light switches. Candy wrappers and stamps have been used in these examples, but I was thinking vintage photos, old luggage labels and any number of other bits of your favorite ephemera could be scanned, printed out and decoupaged in the same way.

Overall, I think the projects in this book are unique enough, and simple enough, that it could empower crafters-- young or old. The only drawback I can see is there may be some projects within this book that kids have already done in their arts and crafts classes in school. The painted tin cans which can be used as pencil cups, for instance. But there aren't a ton of these more common projects within its pages, and I think there's enough freedom of creative license given that even these could be done in newer ways, to hold the kiddies' interest.

Well, that's all for this Sunday. I hope you'll join me Wednesday for a new Treasure Box feature, and next Sunday I think we'll talk about the latest cottage decorating swap I was involved in-- and wonder why, why, why a package going from Pennsylvania to New Jersey took FIVE DAYS through the USPS. Good gravy!


Rosemary said...

Hi Jenn,
Pretty cool that you were asked to review the crafty book.
Who knew Rosie had a craft book out. Interesting.
Have a good week,

Lidian said...

What a great review - you really gave a good sense of the book. I love the shells, they are gorgeous. And the light switch plates too.

I hope that they ask you to review more books!

Greg said...

You know, this actually looks a lot more interesting than I was anticipating!

What's the media for that suncatcher thing? Actually, lots of these look like fun. I may have to look for this at Borders.

Nice review!

Amy said...

Those look like some easy ideas, I really like the sun catcher mobile :-)

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rosemary- Yep- it was a fun opportunity. I'm not really home during weekdays for daytime TV so I don't typically know what folks like Rosie are up to. But the craft angle certainly was enticing. I love to see what other people are making these days.

Lidian- Thanks, glad it was helpful. The shells are definitely my favorite, but I liked the little snowglobes and some other things as well.

Greg- The suncatcher uses a paper-- I don't have the book with me at the moment to remind myself, but yes, it's some sort of paper.

Amy- thanks for visiting!

Melisa Sriwulandari said...

The first that caught my eyes are the glitter shells too. They're so pretty with the soft colors. They're dried real ones or made of what?

Vallen said...

Good projects - good review. I would actually make some of those.

Sher said...

Oh, yeah! Nice job! Much better than the varnished marshmallow peeps!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Hi Melisa- They are actual shells, done up in glitter. It's definitely something I'm going to give a try.

Vallen- Hey, thanks. Yes, it's hard sometimes to find crafts that look like they'll really be effective. I was prepared for it not to be the case, but I was pretty impressed how good-looking and usable the projects were overall.

Sher- oh, I still have a place in my heart for the Peeps. Besides, seeing them all lined up and varnished just was entirely too funny.

Daisys Little Cottage said...

Hey, I'll bet weve grppled for the same fabulous finds in some local Pgh. thrift stores and not even known it! Such a small world. Actually, Im sure there are far more thrift stores downtown than Im aware of. Just found your blog and really enjoying it. How wonderful to be approached about a book! Kudos!
youve got a,(nother) freind in Pennsylvania,

Kathy said...

Those lightswitches are so cute! I am thinking about ideas for my boy's rooms we are redoing them on the cheap when the oldest leaves to college. Thanks for sharing! I will let you know what I come up with!