Need some interior inspiration ‘My bedroom is an office and other Interior Design Dilemmas’ could be just the answer.

This book has been given the thumbs up by the design savvy team at Stylist magazine.

To quote them

Finally an interiors book that a) acknowledges that we don’t all live

In brownstones in Brooklyn and b) that 25% of us now privately rent our spaces. Chock-full of gorgeous home inspiration (always a winner), Joanna Thornhill is the decorating agony aunt you have been searching for.


A good example of a non intrusive office in a bedroom © Tiffany Grant-Riley / 91
Magazine

The other great bonus of this book is the pictures were researched, by the talented Caroline Rowland owner and editor of 91 magazine. She has sourced some great images, many of them from bloggers.


A fabulous use of colour in an otherwise neutral room © Tamsyn Morgans

         Joanna Thornhill, is a London based interiors stylist and writer . She guides you through an array of design dilemmas from minor tweeks to bigger projects. The chapters are those you would expect, including a beginners tool kit, colour combining explained, painting furniture, interior design rules which to follow and which to break.

If you have just moved into your home and have no idea where to start or what to do and your landlord won’t let you paint the walls Joanna has the answers. They are broken down into clear, easy-to-follow chunks of advice. Each topic covers a real life dilemma.

At the head of each page the question is asked and then answered briefly. An in depth solution is also given plus tips.


What a great idea to display and store your collection
© Betina Bianculli / @https://jolygram.com/profile/fridaflorentina/314397293?hl=enfridaflorentina

     

A good example of an easy on the eye, comfortable living space
© Avenue Design Studio

My bedroom is an office

In brief : Confine the office equipment to a specific part of the room, and create a set up that you can easily conceal-literally or by clever design- at the end of the working day.

The reader is given three different  visual alternatives plus as a DIY challenge as a tip.

This book is perfect to dip into for inspiration.

Joanna Thornhill £14.99 Laurence King

On trend : Textile Folk Art

Textile Folk Art  By Anne Kelly published by Batsford

T

I was just about to review this book, when into my inbox popped the following, prescient quotes, from designer and licenserJehane, from ‘ making art work’

Folk Art  – Folklore ‘Art of the people’ celebrates traditions and rituals from across the world and the relationship between maker and object’

‘Art teaches us to see into things. Folk Art allows us to see outward from within things.’ Walter Benjamin.

This book is an inspirational exploration of folk art from around the world by textile artist http://www.annekellytextiles.com/Anne Kelly.

It includes samplers, quilts, tribal and nomadic cloth. Anne Kelly explores traditional motifs used throughout the world in textile folk art and shows how contemporary textile artists use them in their work today. She demonstrates how to incorporate treasured personal objects- such as garments, stitched samples, vintage lettering and motifs-into textile to create unique works of folk art.

The red horse by Mandy Pattullohttp://threadandthrift.blogspot.com/ mixed media textile, appliqué and embroidery on vintage quilt background

We are shown examples of collections from around the world – Scandinavia, USA, Australia, China and Mongolia. There are some step –by- step projects including collages, screen prints, folding books. We are shown creative collages on garments and even a stitched shed that was shown at the knitting and stitching show. The reader is given resource to some of the best textile artists, such as Nancy Nicholson, Mandy Pottulloh and Sue Stone and you can see their work on their web sites.

Romanian Commission by Anne Kelly, mixed-media textile

My verdict this is a lovely book that more than earns its place on a bookshelf, I will delve into time and again.

A book for art and cat lovers : History of Art in 21 Cats

by Nia Gouldhttps://niaski.co.uk.

This humorous and witty picture book uses the cat as a guide to enlighten us about the different and fascinating art movements throughout history. This is Art history as you’ve never experienced it before- with a large helping of cattitude. From the old masters to the modernists, the moggy as muse.

Feline friends have stalked the studios of many artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keefe, so, it only seems entirely fitting to enlist 21 cultured cats to navigate a journey through art history.

From ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art to the wacky and wildly successful world of the Young British Artists, explore the styles that characterized important art movements and the artists who led them. Each cat is depicted in the style of the art movement that is being shown. For example the Egyptian cat has an ornate eye and the colour palette of the Egyptians is explained.

         To show renaissance art, the Mona Lisa has been represented in cat form.

We have Rococo cats, impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism. Dada, Destijl, Magic Realism, Art Deco and all the major art movements of the twentieth century are represented. The book ends with a feline timeline. This will make a great gift for any cat lover.  

From Michael O’Mara books £12.99

Want to be a success on instagram then HASH TAG AUTHENTIC is the book for you.

Finding creativity and building a community on instagram and beyond

We are forever being offered advice on how to up our instagram numbers and get more followers but no one does it as well as this Sara Tasker.

Sara Tasker  @me_and_orla

White Lion Publishing an imprint of quarto £16.99

www.quartoknows.com

Pics © Sara Tasker

If you are involved in design or any kind of creativity and participate on Instagram you are more likely, than not, to have come across the account @me_and_orla created by Sara Tasker. Sara set up her blog when she was on maternity leave in 2013 and she has become an inspiration to many aspiring bloggers and has in fact built herself a brand new and unexpected career out of social media. She has now written an informative and beautiful book about how she came by her success and how you might too become successful on instagram.

From the secrets of visual storytelling and crafting thumb-stopping instagram photographs, to archiving your day to day life whilst remaining authentic to yourself, this book is both an inspiring manual and an interactive tool for finding your voice online.

As she says ” Connection, communication and community are the underrated secret weapons of social media.”

The book is divided into four main chapters. Storytelling, Making Pictures, Archiving your life and Sharing your world.

The making pictures is particularly useful as she goes through what makes a good composition, why symmetry works, using negative space or a pop of colour, the rule of thirds and following your subjects gaze. She gives smart phone tips and talks about what grabs the eye. 

“Photographing our everyday lives allows us to zoom in on the details and think about the small things that hold big meaning for us”

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

She finishes the book with ten commandments, for a healthy relationship with social media, I think they could equally apply to a healthy life. 1 Share, don’t brag. 2. Spend more time on other people’s pages than you do on your own. 3. Be human. 4. Mix it up. 5. Aim to serve others (instead of being self-serving). 6 Create what makes you really light up. 7. Follow your enthusiasm. 8. Stay playful and curious and don’t take it too seriously. 9. Take responsibility for your own boundaries. 10. Don’t compare yourself to other people.

Processed with VSCO with a9 preset
Processed with VSCO with a7 preset

         In a book that is 190 pages long I thought that the book would have lots of repetition, it doesn’t. Sara has managed to cover everything you ever needed or wanted to know about using social media in an amusing and modest way. She is genuine, the real deal, and this with her beautiful images comes across on her instagram account.

Crocheted Succulents

Cacti & Other Succulent Plants to Make

By Emma Varnam

Published by GMC RRP £14.99

When this book arrived through my letterbox it caused me to giggle. It seems such a bizarre and bonkers idea to crochet a Cactus. However if you, like me, are fairly hopeless with house plants then why not.

 As Emma says in her introduction

‘ Succulent plants have grown in popularity in recent years, as our climate gets hotter and hotter and more of us are able to grow these plants outside in pots. I started growing succulents about two years ago and my son loves to collect cacti too. We have attended courses on how to look after our plants and how to propagate them. Then it occurred to me it would be fun to create a crocheted version of our collection.

         The techniques of crotchet are perfectly suited to creating these cute specimens, and these versions are immune to the perils of overwatering or drought.’

         In some of the patterns Emma has embellished her crocheted succulents with flowers and pompoms to create an exotic look.

She even has an imaginative idea for display and that is to mix them with her living cacti and succulents. The technique is simple it is a wonderful hobby to carry around with you  as you travel on the bus or tube on the way to work. A great talking point with strangers perhaps. The book has full colour photography throughout and the contents page is a delight with each plant species captioned with a picture of its crocheted version below the name. With 25 different varieties you could make them all and give a few away as original presents to friends and family.

         Emma Varnam is a crochet and knitwear designer and author. Her books , also published by GMC, included How To Crochet, Granny Squares, Granny Squares Home, Cute Crocheted animals. She has collaborated with knitwear designer Debbie Bliss. Her crochet blog is

www.emmavarnam.co.uk

The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell

In the introduction to her book, author Emma Mitchell comes clean about the depression from which she has suffered for the last twenty-five years. The Wild Remedy How Nature Mends Us is a diary that shows how through nature Emma manages her ‘depression’ and her life. https://silverpebble.net/blog

         Emma’s description of how depression manifests itself is so poignant.

‘ Some days my brain feels as though it is mired in a dark quicksand of negativity; on other, layers of thick greyish cloud seem to descend, weighing down my thoughts and burgling my motivation. However the depression manifests itself, I find it difficult to move, and the urge to stay indoors beneath a quilt and near to Netflix is strong. I know if I do force myself to get up from the sofa, then the gloom can lift a little, and if I step outside and walk in the wood behind our cottage, the dreich thoughts may not leave entirely but they certainly retreat into the wings.’

She writes beautifully and descriptively with no sense of self-pity. Emma acknowledges that literature is peppered with references to using nature as a way of easing melancholy and is the first to admit that it may not help all, but it does help her.

The book is a joy to read it is both interesting and informative and full of discoveries both for the reader and for Emma herself. Set out as a diary, that starts in October when the weather in England turns and the first frosts appear. Emma’s adventures, in both the landscape where she lives and beyond are not big ones. She observes nature and draws us in with her observations. The creatures and plants are often small, birds, insects, rodents but for Emma they are important and noticed. She is both a keen observer and illustrator. All the drawings and photographs in the book are hers.

         Emma grew up in Liverpool but spent many summers as a child on the Pembrokeshire coast where she explored rock pools.

         As she says’ When I was small I didn’t know much about marine wildlife, but I knew that I could find VERY interesting things in rock pools: things that darted, scuttled and snailed about; that I could catch in my net if I was careful and they’d continue to dart: scuttle and snail about in my bucket.’

I grew up near Birmingham and holidayed in a caravan in Sandersfoot near where Emma stayed. Reading her description took me back to my own childhood, with memories of being curious about rock pools and what excitement and mysteries they held.

Emma has a degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge. The book has a good bibliography that references papers such as ‘The role of the seratoninergic system on mood and mood disorders’

‘The benefits to humans of interactions with natural landscapes’

I highly recommend this book, if you are a nature lover or not, if you suffer from depression or not it will draw you in and inform you.

Lady’s -Tresses

As Emma has come clean, so will I, I have a son and a brother who both suffer from severe depression, and the son of a good friend killed himself two years ago. Anything that can offer help or a possible way through this misery has to be good.

I highly recommend this book, if you are a nature lover or not, if you suffer from depression or not it will draw you in and inform you.

Published by Michael O’Mara at £14.99 http:// www.mombooks.com

Do you need to get your house in order and sort out your life? Then Debora Robertson’s book DECLUTTER is your answer

Declutter

The get-real guide to creating calm from chaos

By Debora Robertson published by Kyle Books at £12.99

You need this book if you are doing any of the following:

  • You regularly buy things to replace items you already own because you can’t lay your hands on them right now.
  • You regularly lose your glasses, keys, phone and tv remote. Or if like me recently, when the night before I was to fly to Armenia I couldn’t locate my passport. It was 2 hours of anxiety and turning everything in the house upside down before I found it.
  • You have said any of the following in the last month:

‘ I have to go through those‘ ‘Someone might need that’ ‘It’s still got wear in it’ ‘It might come in usefulone day’

Unlike other books on this subject, Debora does not expect you to totally readjust your world to minimalist living. She offers practical advise including allowing a certain amount of time to clear up. She suggests buying a kitchen timer and using it. Decide how much time you can spend on a task on any given day and just spend that amount of time and no more. She suggests keeping a diary of what you wish to achieve and offers tips on what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly and even how to clear up if you  only have a spare ten minutes.

She gives information on how and where to get rid of useful unwanted items. I have made so many visits to charity shops during the last month!

I am a craft author and run workshops so I am a great one for collecting all kinds of tools, materials and ephemera. ‘Oh that will come in handy sometime”. Reading that Debra writes on cookery and gardening I realized that her pile of stuff probably bears a resemblance to my own. So I am even more impressed.

What this book does, is encourage you to create new habits that will enhance your life.

I knew this book was good because as I was reading it, my friends kept asking if they could borrow it after me. Well it is a great book based in reality and full of practical advise and No you can’t borrow it. I’m keeping my copy and authors like Debora deserve people to buy their words of wisdom. So go out and buy your own copy, you won’t regret it.