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Our favorite vintage image and craft books
out there...

Some craft ideas come from holding up a milk carton and thinking, "What if..."  Ideas can spark by looking at what other people are making or selling.

Then there are craft books and magazines. These were written specifically to help you get started or to learn something new. We have a modest collection of about 500 books, gleaned from the Internet and local bookstores.  Let's face it: there are thousands more. Most have a few interesting projects or techniques. But with some books, it seems like every page has something valuable. Those are the books you pull off the shelf again and again, because they have so much to offer. Here are our personal recommendations for your inspiration library:

Crafting and Scrapbooking

Teach Yourself Visually Collage & Altered Art by Roni Johnson cover Teach Yourself Visually:
Collage & Altered Art
By Roni Johnson
Wiley Publishing, 2009

At last, an inspiring, patient art teacher right at your side as you explore creative techniques. Roni Johnson explains the basics of collage design, materials and tools, and then shows us how to work with images and text, embellishments, adhesives, inks and paints, right through to the finishing touches. Most exciting, we think, are her dozens of methods for achieving aged and distressed finishes, which are so perfect for vintage images. As a rubber stamp expert, Roni includes a great chapter on stamping, of course. She also outlines several creative methods for transferring images to various surfaces. In other words, this is a comprehensive reference book - and inspiration - that belongs in every crafter's library.

Glitter Artistry by Barbara Trombley Glitter Artistry:
Bags, Tags and Cards

By Barbara Trombley
Lark Books, 2006

What would the great past masters of art have done if they had the rainbow pallette of modern glitter to work with? Barbara Trombley's book gives us an idea, with 50 stunning small-scale projects. Each piece demonstrates a technique, including her signature 'glitter lace.' This book will make glitter a medium of first-choice in your creative efforts. Read our interview with Barbara Trombley.

Painted Scrapbook Pages by Melynda Van Zee Painted Scrapbook Pages:
Create One-of-a-kind Pages With Simple Painting Techniques
By Melynda Van Zee
Lark Books, 2006

This is one of those "why didn't someone think of this before?" kind of books. Melynda Van Zee beautifully describes almost 40 painting techniques for creating distinctive, individualized page backgrounds, from faux surfaces (sponging, marbling, crackling) to brushing, stamping, and lettering. It all applies equally well to card-making, too! Read our interview with Melynda Van Zee.

Fanciful Paper Projects book cover photo Fanciful Paper Projects:
Making Your Own Posh Little Follies
By Sandra Evertson
Sterling Publishing Company, 2005

This delightful and artful book can be used in several ways. First, it is an outside-the-box idea book, when your creativity needs a boost. Sandra Evertson has an eye for unique crafting concepts and a way of rethinking craft materials, especially vintage images and papers. Second, it is an instruction book for recreating Sandra's fanciful designs, with many helpful tips. Finally, it is a source for unusual vintage papers and illustrations which can be photocopied right out of the book.  Buy this book - then send Sandra a thank you note. Read our interview with Sandra Evertson!
Memory Gifts cover Memory Gifts:
Preserving Your Treasured Past in Special Ways
By Marie Browning
Sterling Publishing Company, 1999

Every page of this book is an inspiration. Marie Browning demonstrates creative ways to display photographs using techniques like decoupage, image transferring, casting resin and wax to create very personal calendars, candles, coasters, pillows, puzzles, T-shirts, tote bags, buttons, aprons – even night-lights. Many of these lend themselves beautifully to vintage images. Read our interview with Marie Browning.

Paper Crafting cover Paper Crafting with Carol Duvall
DRG Publishing, 2007

I'd seen Carol Duvall on TV, usually showcasing other artists, so I didn't really know the depth of her personal expertise. Then I picked up this book to browse. Worth its weight in gold! Cards, boxes, bags, ornaments, etc. -- each with a different technique to use again and again. Great photos and instructions. Her "Queen of Crafting" title is well-earned. Read our interview with Carol Duvall.

501 Fun Crafts cover 501 Fun-to-Make Family Crafts
Better Homes and Gardens Books, 2001

This book is full of easy ideas and techniques, and many of them lend themselves to using vintage images. The key word is "easy" here, which is perfect for us short-attention-span crafters.

Gift Wrapping and Greeting Cards cover Gift Wrapping & Greeting Cards:
Creative ideas for personalizing gifts and cards
Edited by Lydia Darbyshire
Quintet Publishing Limited, 1996

This book is organized by occasion: Birthdays, Christmas, New Year, Easter, Halloween, and all the rest. The techniques are interesting but not daunting. The instructions and photographs are very informative. You'll come away with great ideas.

The New Book of Image Transfer photo The New Book of Image Transfer
By Debba Haupert
Lark Books, 2004

Your home inkjet printer or local copy shop can help you transform common home items into beautiful, personalized artwork. The secret is this book - and image transfer papers that create custom decals for almost all types of surfaces and applications. Debba gives you detailed instruction on techniques, materials, and tools, as well as 40 photographed projects. Fabric, glass, tile, ceramics, wood, bamboo, candles and more get the treatment, and you will be amazed at the results. There is even an "image bank" at the end of the book. This is an essential crafter's resource. Read our interview with Debba Haupert.

paper Transformed book cover Paper Transformed: A Handbook of Surface-Design Recipes and Creative Paper Projects
By Julia Andrus
Quarry Books, 2007

This is the best surface treatment handbook I have ever seen. Julia Andrus shows us 100+ ways to transform simple paper into colored, textured, illuminated, faux-finished pieces of art. She may be an artist, but the average crafter can handle most of these techniques because her instructions are clear, the supplies are available, and the photos are illustrative. At the back of the book are several projects, from boxes to journals, that demonstrate how these techniques can be used and combined.  This is one reference book you should have in your library.

Vintage Paper Crafts by Anna Corba Vintage Paper Crafts
By Anna Corba
Sterling Publishing Company, 2004

Leafing through Anna Corba's book is like browsing a fine crafts store. Not only is each item beautiful, but their display - the very atmosphere - is inspiring. The author clearly loves vintage images and ephemera and knows how to combine, layer and embellish to create refreshing miniatures. All paper? Not quite, but paper and found items are at the heart of each of the 37 crafts carefully photographed and described. As a bonus, many of the vintage images are provided at the back of the book! Read our interview with Anna Corba.


Vintage Images

The Color Explosion cover The Color Explosion:
Nineteenth Century American Lithography

By Jay T. Last
Hillcrest Press, 2006

Color lithography was perfected in the mid-19th century, and it changed the world. The monotone palette of commercial art was soon transformed by colorful images, publications, prints, cards, calendars, maps, games and of course, product packages and advertising. Jay T. Last's remarkable book captures this fast progression in a fascinating text and beautiful examples from his vast collection of publications and ephemera.
Scrapbooks: An American History cover Scrapbooks: An American History
By Jessica Helfand
Yale University Press, 2008

"To read another person's scrapbook" observes Jessica Helfand in Scrapbooks: An American History, "is to acquire a body of knowledge about an entirely different time and place." This incredible, visual book takes you to many unusual and fascinating times and places, from the nervous musings of a new bride to the creative explosions of a neurotic poet. Helfand is a graphic designer and art critic, but here she is both a detective and a psychologist exploring more than 200 scrapbook albums dating from the Victorian era through the present day--albums that Helfand personally curated and researched. You will be both entertained and challenged by what you find. Read our interview with Jessica Helfand.

Postmarked Yesteryear cover Postmarked Yesteryear:
The Art of the Holiday Postcard
By Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell
Collector's Press, 2001

This is a book you will leaf through to ooh and ahh over the remarkable postcard reproductions and the engaging stories behind the illustrations.  Ever wonder what a "penny dreadful" was?  Or why we kiss under mistletoe and not just next to it?  All of the familiar (and unfamiliar) holiday symbols that appear on postcards are explored -- and beautifully illustrated.  You'll agree with the author that postcards are "our greatest social history documents."  Kudos to designer Trina Stahl. Sadly, this paperback book is out of print, but you may be able to find a copy online.  And visit Ms. Apkarian-Russell's intriguing website at Castle Halloween!

Picture Postcards cover Picture Postcards in the United States, 1893-1918
By George and Dorothy Miller
Clarkson N. Potter, Publisher, 1976

Scour the Internet and used bookstores for this one, because it is the bible for deltiologists (postcard collectors).  The scholarship is impeccable, and you will come away with the back stories on every variety of picture postcard, from the publishers to the artists.

Schmucker book cover Samuel L. Schmucker:
The Discovery of His Lost Art
By Jack and Susan Davis
Olde America Antiques, 2001

Samuel L. Schmucker may have been one of the great American artists of the early 20th century.  But circumstance and an untimely death relegated his work to the footnotes of art history.  This beautiful book makes a case for a Schmucker revival.  Every page dazzles with research and wonderful reproductions of his work.

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