Book Review: Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle by Tsia Carson

craftivityTsia Carson should be a gal after my own heart. She was a founder of the crafting website, and taught at both Yale and the Rhode Island school of design. So I was super psyched over finding her book Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle at a local rummage sale. I thought it would give me lots of cool crafting ideas and inspire my creativity.

And for the most part, it offer some inspiration, but some of Craftivity just inspired a whole lot of “No, just no.”

Craftivity is divided into six sections focused on different types of crafting. Part One focuses on yarn and string. Part Two focuses on Fabric and Thread. Paper and plastic is the focus of Part Three and glass and ceramics is the focus of Part Four. Part Five focuses on the world of wood and metal. And finally Crafitivity winds up focusing on all things recycled and thrift in Part Six-Lost and Found.

Craftivity started out strong with its recipe for dying wool yarn using unsweetened Kool-Aid. I’m not a knitter but I know plenty of people who are, and I bet they would have lots of fun doing this project. In fact, I’m thinking of photocopying the pages to this project and giving them to my knitty friends. I also liked the idea of crocheted flower brooch and making a blankie because who couldn’t use a blankie these days? There is also a segment on the old-school art of spinning one’s wool. I’ve seen this in practice and it’s pretty cool.

Other crafty and clever ideas in this book I liked were making tables using old suitcases and wheels on casters. The end result is both practical and visually quite clever. Remember Shrinky Dinks from your childhood? You can use them to make a Mary Quant-inspired mod necklace. I also liked the projects on how to etch glass to make a lovely decorative pitcher, vase or wine glasses, reviving a moth eaten sweater through embroidering and silk screening poetry onto silk fabric, making beautiful scarves (I was thinking I would do this to make pillows). And a bedazzled table cloth might look fetching on one’s dining room table. There is also a segment on felting.

The segment on paper and plastic had a great idea for a button cuffed bracelet. I know a lady who makes a lot of pretty bling with buttons, and this would be right up her crafty alley. And simple paper bags can make lovely gift bags, but considering I’ve been making my own gift wrap for over a decade this did not surprise me in the least.

But a lot of the projects in Crafitivity seem like a waste of time at best and completely ridiculous at worst, like a crocheted skull? I guess this might appeal to some too-cool-for hipster type, but I thought it was a complete waste of time and materials. I guess a like my crafts a little more useful. The charms of a Tyvek basket were lost on me. You can probably find really cute baskets at Goodwill or at the dollar store. And the project shown on the cover of Craftivity, a crystal encrusted “chandelier” hurt my feelings. I also questioned turning an old T-shirt into a pair of panties, especially ones that don’t look like they’d hold up even on the curviest of hips and butts.

Still, I think some people will find value in this book. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a bunch of plastic bags taking up room in my pantry and with these plastic bags one can make a cute tote bag. For the more ambitious crafters among us, Craftivity shows how one can make a hammock or a wooden bed frame.

In the end, I think Carson’s crafty heart is in the right place. I appreciate her focusing on crafts that can be made with items found around the house, recyclable materials and items found at any thrift store. And though these crafting ideas aren’t the best (in my humble opinion) I do appreciate how they respect a limited budget.