I had never seen Diana's work, but was charmed after perusing her website and seeing her original stuffed animal and puppet designs. Diana has another book out called Make Your Own Sock Puppets that I've seen for sale at toy stores around here.
To me, this new book, Beasties, has two strengths. First, the designs are very imaginative. There are plush creatures in here that are fun and silly.
You can see that she gets a sense of freedom and inventiveness when creating three-dimensionally in fabric and that is something I strive for and admire. I wish the photography were better throughout. The typeface on the cover just doesn't look refined. It does not do the author's work justice.
And second, Diana creates really fantastical mixed media backdrops for each beast.
She uses all kinds of materials, including what looks like paper mache, tissue paper, bits of wood (or are those cinnamon sticks?), forks, cut paper, and all kinds of other objects to create little magical scenes for each beast to inhabit.
All of this looks fun to make, which brings me to the two things I think this books lacks.
First, I want to know more about Diana and her creative process. I want to see some pages from her sketch book – there must be some wild stuff in there! I want some tips on making some of these backdrops. A few sidebars with some of this information would be great. There are no step-by-step illustrations or photos at all in this book.
And second I want to know more about Diana's story. As this recent episode of the Craftypod explains so well, your story really sells your work. The first thing I do when I look at a new-to-me craft book is read the introduction, and then the acknowledgments. I want to know who this author is, why they make these objects, what they find compelling about sewing, about plush, about interpreting the world in fabric. All of this is missing from Beasties. Maybe it's because I'm the daughter of a newspaper reporter, but I know there is a story here and I'm disappointed that it has been left out of Diana's book.
Be that as it may, I enjoyed sewing up this grassy green turtle using Diana's pattern.
The pattern worked well and the project was quick and easy and with fun results.
This book is scheduled for release by Perigree in August, but you can win yourself a free copy right here. I have two to give away. Just leave me a comment between now and Friday afternoon at 2 pm EST. I'll draw two names at random and the book is yours to read and enjoy!