Soul Food Studio

Book Reviews

Book Review: Mad About the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With a big move coming up I was more than delighted when a review copy of Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth arrived. With over 15 years writing about interiors there’s not much journalist Watson-Smyth doesn’t know about putting together a great interior. It’s a complete, how to on defining your own unique interior style to make your home work for you. Between the covers there a mine of practical good sense tips as well as advice on how to bring that extra edge of wow to your interiors.

Though I’m a designer, stylist and have forever been involved in interiors it certainly doesn’t mean I‘m not still hungry for new ways to make a house into a stylish home. Rest assured this is not glossy coffee table book packed with out of budget fashionable interior images. It’s rather more a work book, future proofed with drawings and carefully chosen photographs, coupled with good solid classic interiors advice to guide you towards defining your interior style.

The book is divided into three sections, the first leads you through the minefield of finding inspiration on the way to defining your style, which includes invaluable information on using colour. To guarantee the success of your interior projects the middle section contains a chapter on every room in the house, each covers details specific to the function of the room, along with lighting, storage and furniture. The crowning glory is found in the last section where Watson-Smyth gives the low down on top design hacks gleaned over her many years of experience.

Creating a stylish home to feel proud of doesn’t necessarily mean splashing the cash and expending eye wateringly large sums of money. This book is there to guide you through sometimes difficult style and decorating dilemmas. It helps you target the look you want to achieve in your home to reflect your own personal style while spending your budget wisely.

Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth is published by Pavilion.

https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/mad-about-th

Here is another book review you might like, go take a look: Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Book Review - Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With the infinity of the holiday season stretching away into the future, I get excited there’s time to get to grips with a new hobby. Packed with all the know how to improve my hand writing, Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots, arrived in the studio at a very opportune moment. 

All this time we’ve been beavering away behind computer screens we’ve all but abandoned our handwriting skills. Meanwhile the cult of celebrating the individual has been on the rise. With its lack of humanity and the predictable regularity of computer text, our neglected handwriting, is having a moment embracing the intervention of the human hand over machine. Rather than leaving our handwriting skills dormant there’s a big move to dust off the art form and use it to create beautiful and special projects, from the heart. Imagine being able to address envelopes in a stylish and eye catching way, writing special stationary for weddings, or designing unique invitations, this book gives you all the tools.

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Don’t be alarmed by the words calligraphy or hand lettering, this is the kind of lettering that excels because of its individual hand drawn quality. Within the covers you will find a complete manual to get you writing beautifully, its packed with insider know how along with plenty of detailed knowledge, making the learning process a whole lot easier. 

Full of quirky illustrations this practical workbook of how tos, gently eases you into hand lettering. Divided into sections, illustrated diagrams lead you through the basic tool kit and of the anatomy of the pen before you get started on mark making. There are practice pages for all the letters starting with how to form them including useful information on the names for each part of the letter. There are handy tips on making it your own, along with useful trouble shooting advice. 

 

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And the book isn’t limited to the mechanics of letter forming, once you have mastered the skill there’s plenty more help on designing your page, combining different styles while exploring a variety of media. The book finishes with a plethora of beautiful examples of projects using your new skills.

If you are ready to take on the satisfying challenge of smartening up your handwriting skills while getting the individual edge, look no further than this invaluable volume. It guarantees your new skill will elicit enthusiastic oohs and ahhs of envy and admiration.

Book: Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots

Published by Batsford

Price £14.99

 If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake

Book Review, Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With the recent upturn in the weather, once more it’s time to get back into the garden and embrace the wide-open spaces. With immaculate timing a review copy of the gorgeous Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by the talented stylist, Selina Lake, arrived in the studio. The garden has greened up, here I am falling in love with it all over again, ripe for any garden porn that comes my way.

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 Lakes style is approachable and practical, full of beautifully styled shots it is a wonderful book to reach for when you are looking for new inspiration. Divided into chapters, each covers a different theme. Garden Inspirations is the opening chapter, here Lake shows us the spaces and plants she enjoys, as well as encouraging the reader to look for places to help develop their own individual style. I love the chapter name, Decorating Your Garden, it includes advice on choosing furniture, rounding up ways to display plants and also how to get essential decorative details like lighting into the space. Further chapters are about creating garden rooms as well as relaxing and eating outdoors and the one that presses my buttons, wont be any surprise to my readers, as it’s all about Bringing the Outside In, including details on foraging and very usefully tips to help you create your very own cutting garden. 

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Lake envelopes us with the idea a garden is an extra space for escaping to, it’s your own other worldly corner. Peppered through out the text are useful style tips along with very doable, attractive projects, for instance, use small vintage bottles to hold posies to jazz up a picket fence. I suggest mixing up one of the recipes for botanical cocktails, settling down in a verdant corner to have a good read of this book, a beautiful and informative garden companion.

 

Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake  Photography: Rachael Whiting  Ryland Peters and Small £19.99       http://selinalake.co.uk     http://www.rachelwhiting.co.uk

Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake

Photography: Rachael Whiting

Ryland Peters and Small £19.99

http://selinalake.co.uk

http://www.rachelwhiting.co.uk

If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of Mad About the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Book Review: WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell

Foraging flowers and foliage, is now a thing, we all delight at coming home with a handful of hedgerow discoveries, but how to make the most of our collection?

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I was sent a review copy of the book WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler. It gives a glimpse into the world of flower arrangers, Worm, packed with insider knowledge into how they achieve their original and contemporary approach to wreaths and flower installations. Exuberant and full of life, the can do flower company aims to bring the delight of natural foraged flowers to your home or venue.

With their characteristic enthusiasm they set out to demystify the art with a wealth of fresh new tips for constructing and building up original floral installations so they look their very best. Even if you are not into creating with flowers the book is a must for the beautiful images alone. Photographer Kristin Perers, creates serene moments of floral calm leaving us all wishing they were part of our lives.

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Liberated from more formal arrangements this book reflects the recent move away from monoculture flower arrangements towards a more seasonal approach, as often as possible, using foraged and farmed British flowers and foliage. People who know me will be aware I am always looking for new ways to bring the outside in and I love the crazy, mad, romantic almost Midsummers Night Dream vibe of Worm designs.

The detailed recipe for Meadow Ball, makes the concept approachable, I’m itching to sling a hook in the ceiling and get on with it. Another design I am keen to try is the Late Summer Chandelier, which uses a gnarled, ropey clematis vine as a base. The smell from the Giant Pine Wreath promises to deliver an intoxicating perfume, so that’s a must when the time comes round. And for sheer vibrancy the Autumnal Wreath would be the star at a Harvest or Thanksgiving celebration.

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Dip into the pages of this beautiful book, Wreaths, with its glorious images and all the tools and know how to develop your own instinctive floral style,  you will be ready to create a wreath to celebrate each seasonal event when it comes along. 

WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler (Quadrille, £14.99)

Photography: Kristin Perers

Worm London http://www.wormlondon.com

Kristin Perers http://kristinperers.com

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If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots

Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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Winter can be a tough time for many with the shrinking of daylight hours and the near constant grey weather Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell is a manual of creative projects designed to help keep the winter blues at bay. During winter months because of the lack of sunlight mood elevating serotonin is at lower levels often leading to gloomy moods, crafting is known to raise levels of serotonin which in turn helps boost mood. Drawing inspiration from the natural winter world Mitchell has designed a beautiful survival manual of simple craft projects calling on a variety of skills to help people escape low moods during the winter. With perfect timing, at the darkest time of year, the book arrived on my desk to be reviewed.

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It is an attractive book with beautiful images of domestic cosines and creativity inspired by nature. Divided into chapters, each themed around the different phases of winter, there are several projects to fit the theme with clear step by step instructions. In High Days and Celebrations there's a recipe for streusel cake, a berry cocktail and woodland wreaths, it's a varied selection and none are too time consuming. I enjoyed the outdoors chapter Nature as Nurture, here Mitchell gently coaxes us out of the house, subtly persuading us with the promise of crafty joys such as preserving autumn leaves or making silver fossil pendants after a good walk observing nature. As a stylist I'm always trying to bring nature into interiors and there are lots of examples of this, and don't we all love spreading the love with specimen blooms in vintage bottles. There are also very beautiful crochet projects which I lust after, the hawthorn wrist warmers, with a bobbly berried design is very nearly enough to tempt me to pick up a hook and have a go.

Making Winter , with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing.   Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months  by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).    If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of  Making Concrete Pots, bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

Making Winter, with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing.

Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).

If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of Making Concrete Pots, bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

Book Review - Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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Now more than ever we all want to learn new crafts and skills and the New Year is as good a time as any to start mastering one. Sadly, hat wearing has been relegated to special occasion wear, the book Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner has a varied collection and wearing one to top off a carefully curated outfit is made a real possibility. With its beautiful timeless illustrations, variety of hat designs and detailed techniques it gives plenty of information to help you get started creating your own unique hats. After a detailed browsing of this book, as an eclectic designer, maker, I felt fired up with ideas for the many possible occasions for sporting a distinctive and elegant hat.

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Have you ever wondered how a hat shape is made from a flat piece of fine woven straw or how to create a distinctive trim that is guaranteed to lift a bought hat from ordinary to extraordinary? With a wide choice of hat shapes and embellishment to create, Millinery is the book for you. A beautifully designed volume it is divided into two sections. The first covers the nitty gritty with equipment, materials and techniques each supported by text and images. The second section has twelve very different hat projects with easy to follow step by step instructions. Choose from soft sewn hats to a gorgeous feather creation to a full on felt trilby. I am drawn in by the detail, and long for a neat feathered tear drop, complete with the swish and flourish of a long plume. 

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Emphatically, yes, I would recommend Millinery, as it gives a glimpse into the art form and plenty of information for you to successfully make your own high-end millinery. With its wealth of inspiration and variety of techniques it won't be long before you have created a unique hat collection.

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    Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner  Published by GMC £16.99  Available from  www.thegmcgroup.com   If you like this book review why not read my review of  The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Vintage Style Projects for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie

Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner

Published by GMC £16.99

Available from www.thegmcgroup.com

If you like this book review why not read my review of The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Vintage Style Projects for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie

The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Vintage Style Projects for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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I was really excited when The Gentleman's Wardrobe by Vanessa Mooncie arrived on my desk. I'm a designer maker and creating a capsule wardrobe that sums up your own unique style, seems like a very fine thing. There are lots of sources out there for women but what about the men? The book does just what it says on the cover with all the know how to make an entire gentleman's wardrobe. The garment collection was inspired by old black and white family photos showing beautifully dressed relatives taking great care over their immaculate appearance.

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This is a beautiful book packed with a wealth of contemporary lifestyle fashion plate images to give you all the inspiration you need to get cracking. The 14 projects cover a wide range of skills, there's an elegant garment or accessory for everyone to make following the easy step by step instructions and sewing patterns. All levels of sewing are covered from simple beginners projects like a cravat and for makers with a higher level of expertise there are more complex garments such as shirts and jackets. With a wide range of projects all styles are catered for, choose a different fabric and change the style of garment to create a unique expression of yourself.

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With its indepth knowledge and lots of attractive fashion images it's an easy and approachable way to start building a stylish gentleman's wardrobe. Flicking through the pages a young man with beginners sewing skills was blown away by the idea of making his own silk dressing gown and I was taken with the images for making a tweed flat cap. Whether you are a maker yourself or want to give this book as a gift it's the perfect book to turn to for both reference and a source of projects. With ideas for a quick project or something that will take longer this book would win long term space on my book shelf and remain there long after today’s love of vintage fashion has been superceded.

The Gentleman’s Wardrobe by Vanessa Mooncie

Published by GMC £16.99

Available from www.thegmcgroup.com

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If you liked this post why not read my book review of Quintessential Baking by Frances Quinn

Book Review: House of Cards By Sarah Hamilton

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
Have you ever wanted to find out about the ins and outs of selling your own handmade cards? We are a nation of card givers, greetings cards punctuate and chronicle our lives, House of Cards by artist Sarah Hamilton is a book that celebrates the greeting card industry as well as showing you how to become part of it using your own designs.  It is an attractive book full of fresh bright visuals and shows you how to make money from your art. Full of sassy know how, packed with expert tips and advice from practising artists, it's a designers must have manual. A practical as well as informative book it helps short circuit some of the hard work of starting out selling your own cards.

Have you ever wanted to find out about the ins and outs of selling your own handmade cards? We are a nation of card givers, greetings cards punctuate and chronicle our lives, House of Cards by artist Sarah Hamilton is a book that celebrates the greeting card industry as well as showing you how to become part of it using your own designs.

It is an attractive book full of fresh bright visuals and shows you how to make money from your art. Full of sassy know how, packed with expert tips and advice from practising artists, it's a designers must have manual. A practical as well as informative book it helps short circuit some of the hard work of starting out selling your own cards.

Card by Sarah Hamilton image by James Bolston  The book is divided into two sections, the first contains an informative account of the history of greetings card giving, along with all the nitty gritty and practical detail to help get you started with card creation and sales. There is also an invaluable chapter by artist agent Jehane Boden Spiers giving inside advice on liscencing art work as well as insight into the deals available to designers to increase their portfolio of earning potential as well as providing a nest egg.

Card by Sarah Hamilton image by James Bolston

The book is divided into two sections, the first contains an informative account of the history of greetings card giving, along with all the nitty gritty and practical detail to help get you started with card creation and sales. There is also an invaluable chapter by artist agent Jehane Boden Spiers giving inside advice on liscencing art work as well as insight into the deals available to designers to increase their portfolio of earning potential as well as providing a nest egg.

Artwork by Lynn Guinta mage by Kevin Cozad  To get you started on your own creative journey the second section has 10 exciting practical easy to follow step by step projects introducing many techniques such as lino, screen printing and decoupage. Show casing ten artists it gives us the unique opportunity of having a private glimpse into the artist working studio. The book is generous and each case study starts with a short piece about the artist as well as hints on tools and techniques and inspiration to help you create your own personal artwork.

Artwork by Lynn Guinta mage by Kevin Cozad

To get you started on your own creative journey the second section has 10 exciting practical easy to follow step by step projects introducing many techniques such as lino, screen printing and decoupage. Show casing ten artists it gives us the unique opportunity of having a private glimpse into the artist working studio. The book is generous and each case study starts with a short piece about the artist as well as hints on tools and techniques and inspiration to help you create your own personal artwork.

Card by Lynn Guinta image by Kevin Cozad  The book supports the inspiring Just a Card campaign. The premise is that card sales are an important part of independent artists and shops income generation and if we all buy cards when we visit them we help keep them going.  An attractive book full of energy and packed with invaluable advice, it's an indispensible bookshelf addition for anyone in the visual design industry wanting generate an income in the world of greeting cards.

Card by Lynn Guinta image by Kevin Cozad

The book supports the inspiring Just a Card campaign. The premise is that card sales are an important part of independent artists and shops income generation and if we all buy cards when we visit them we help keep them going.

An attractive book full of energy and packed with invaluable advice, it's an indispensible bookshelf addition for anyone in the visual design industry wanting generate an income in the world of greeting cards.

Cards by Gabriela Szulman image by Kristy Noble   House of Cards  by Sarah Hamilton is published by Pavilion.  Find them on Instagram at -  @pavilionbooks @hoc.cardbook @justacard @sarahhamiltonprints @jehanebodenspiers_

Cards by Gabriela Szulman image by Kristy Noble

House of Cards by Sarah Hamilton is published by Pavilion.

Find them on Instagram at -

@pavilionbooks @hoc.cardbook @justacard @sarahhamiltonprints @jehanebodenspiers_

If you liked this book review, why not read my review of 'Home For Now' by Joanna Thornhill

Book Review - Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design by Sara Emslie

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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    Architecture Design by Manifold Architecture studio, Brooklyn, NY

Architecture Design by Manifold Architecture studio, Brooklyn, NY

How can I resist the new book by interior stylist that just arrived on my desk, Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design. The pioneers, mostly designers and artisans have colonised and renovated exindustrial and non residential buildings where they combine work with living, to create a new urban lifestyle. They have thrown out the rules of traditional interiors and the newly emerged style reflects the remnants of the industrial past, generous windows letting in lots of light, metal finishes, exposed pipes and brick work. 

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    The canalside home and gallery of creative director, art dealer and location owner Mark Chalmers in Amsterdam  www.thegarageamsterdam.com  

The canalside home and gallery of creative director, art dealer and location owner Mark Chalmers in Amsterdam www.thegarageamsterdam.com 

The urban pioneer is a style that's in demand, we are all familiar with the open plan look of these large industrial spaces, flexible, less permanent and more mobile. The pioneers have licence to break the mould, be bold and take the opportunity to experiment, take risks while rethinking scale. The book examines twelve case histories, all individual, illustrating a variety of ways to design post industrial interiors.

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  The London home of Peter Wim

The London home of Peter Wim

While all the spaces have a strong sense of reflecting the anatomy of the building, pioneers adapt their space to their individual needs. And don't think it's all about the utillitarian, as this ultimately depends on where the pioneer chooses to draw the line. Some like to allow for domestic softening and flights of fancy. Amsterdam interior by designer James van der Velden has a spectacular lush wall painted in the manner of a classical artist.

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      Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio

 Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio

While the kitchen of graphic designer Anouk Pruim, is pared back, no frills, basic chic, reflected in salvedged utility used for furnishing the space. In the New York home of Houssein Jarouche my favourite, a vintage modern interior, has ecclectic kitchen cupboards that are boldly collaged with colourful graphic tape.

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  Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio, Amsterdam

Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio, Amsterdam

If you want to get that Urban Pioneer look, this book, packed with visual pointers will help you put together your own take on interiors inspired by industrial design.   

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    The New York home of Houssein Jarouche of  micasa.com.br  

The New York home of Houssein Jarouche of micasa.com.br 

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    The home of Anouk Pruim, graphic designer