Studio Musings

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Inspiration - Book Reviews

I haven't come to any conclusions yet regarding taking Freeform Peyote to a digital format and would still love your feedback whether you've used craft books in a digital format, what you're looking for in a digital craft book, and what formats its usually in (epub, pdf, kindle, etc).  There are so many options out there, it's a bit hard to know where to start (or if it even makes sense to do so).

In the meantime, I thought I'd share three more inspiration books from my library.  The first, simply titled "Karl Blossfeldt",   features his black and white plant photography.  His close-up photographs take on abstracted, sometimes alien shapes and often resemble wrought iron.  Which is funny, since it's actually the other way around; his forms have inspired generations of artists, including metal workers - Blossfeldt lived from 1865-1932.  My copy came from a used book store and I think I picked it up for $5.00.  It's a lot more on Amazon, but it's definitely one I'd recommend keeping an eye out for, and definitely worth checking out from the library if it's there.

I picked Reptiles up from one of the bargain tables at Barnes & Noble a couple of years ago.  Even if you don't like snakes and reptiles, it's worth looking through this book.   I don't have it in front of me, but I'd guess the book is at least 14" tall, and most of the photographs take up the full page, with a number of two-page spreads.  The colors and patterns are exquisite, and reptile scales look so much like bead work, the translation is almost automatic.  Searching through Amazon for the book, I came across a number of other titles by the same photographer, Paul Sarosta that look equally interesting. 

The last, Ocean Soul by Brian Skerry, is a brand-new book that I picked up last week after his National Geographic lecture by the same name.  I'm a sucker for fish books with great photos, and this coffee table book definitely lives up to that requirement.  Unlike Archipelago or The Deep, two of my favorite sea-creature inspiration books, most of the photographs in Ocean Soul show the animals in their natural environment as one of Brian's self-proclaimed goals it to act as an underwater journalist for the denizens of the sea.  The book is also wider ranging than most of my collection, both in creatures featured, and in geographic locations, which makes sense as Brian has more than 20 National Geo articles to his name. 

And here's my reader question:  what are some of your favorite inspiration books, and why?


  1. Karen,

    Wow, I'd never thought of having inspiration books! I like the idea -- the snake one makes me think immediately of making shapes out of copper wire.

    I might use some of my old paintings for inspiration when my other projects are done. I did a lot of colorful abstract pieces a few years back. :)

  2. I love your inspiration books! Such texture can be found from them. I haven't gotten any yet but I will make sure to pick the next one up that inspires me. As far as your digital workshop. I still can't wrap myself around freeform yet but I promise if I do yours will be where I will be learning it!

  3. I pull inspiration from a wide range of sources, one of which are books. I'm always on the look out for books with incredible photography that can spark the creative flow. Like the idea of creating sinuous shapes from copper wire - great idea!

    Kristen - when you try freeform (note I said when, not if? You can most definitely do it if you want) the key is to trust the process. And keep going. Most freeform pieces go through the ugly duckling stage. Just keep stitching through it. :).

  4. In my fantasy world, I would buy a beading book, and get both the paper version and the onscreen version for the price of one. I like browsing the hardcover books and magazines. That said, I also misplace them, which can be extremely frustrating!

    I love online instructions and tutorials because I can use them from the screen or print out as needed. I'm getting used to the Zinio format for my Beadwork magazine. I use a Kindle reader on my notebook to read novels, so I've no idea how it would work for something that is not just text on a blank page.

    I think that if your book were available in both media when I'm ready to buy it, I would choose the digital format. If I ever get my world organized, I might prefer the physical book. At any rate, your book is definitely on my list!

  5. Actually, I like snakes- at least the constrictors, and as long as they are not big enough to swallow an alligator.

    My favorite inspiration is not a book at all but architecture. I love looking at the shape of a door with a cabinet on the wall behind it, or the decorative flourishes on buildings, or old floor tiles carefully laid down piece by piece. I think I would like the patterns in your reptile book.

    Okay to honestly answer your question, I have a big shelf of beading books. However, my favorites are the Native American craft and pattern books. Again, I am quite fond of strong geometric patterns.

  6. I love snakes too, at least in theory. Meeting up with a six-foot rattlesnake once while hiking was a bit scary. And in the wild, they'd never hold still enough or let me get close enough to absorb the details that truly interest me. So books it is, suplimented where I can with real life experience, such as visits to my local zoo and aquarium (where I bring my sketchook as well as camera) and snorkeling any time we vacation where there's warm blue water.