Thursday, June 19, 2008

Capsule Prize Reviews: That's Pretty

Like those little plastic bubbles you get for 25 cents, here are some teeny reviews to tide you over until I have the stamina for a long review.

(The answer to Why do you review so many craft books, Rie? is They're shorter, easier to digest, and we get a ton of them at Four-Letter-Third-Wave Magazine.)

Tracy Porter's Inspired Gatherings is surreally decadent and fairy-taleish, taking place in a world where the silverware is crowned with millinery flowers, champagne glasses topped with sugar, and plaster cupids embellished with rhinestones. This book gilds, fluffs, and glitters the lily, and I love it all the more for that. With a candy-colored palette and collagelike approach to decorating, this is so much the Weetzie Bat Guide to Parties, and its over-the-topness makes up for a lack of practicality (though I do like the Snowglobe Party Gift idea--get a clear plastic container and fill it with glitter and tiny treasures.)

Sonya Nimri's Beadalicious takes her DIY ethic to jewelry making. Each piece remakes vintage and thrift shop treasures in fresh ways, with accessories to match every aesthetic. The ethereal type may favor a Blossoming Branch necklace, the grown-up candy raver a Goodnight Moon choker, and the rockabilly teenybopper the Fresh Cherry Drops earrings. Like Just for the Frill of It, the instructions are clear and well-detailed (down to where the vintage bits and bobs are acquired) and the jewelry beautifully presented--I love her books' bright, tropical, summery look. To top it all off, Nimri adds a matching recipe to each piece of jewelry: the Spotlight ring gets Drama Queen Pink Lemonade, the Old Time Button Headband is matched to Peach Button Cookies.

Taking Tea With Alice is another devastatingly pretty book that's all charm and less practicality, but is so much fun that I can't help but pore over it and dream a bit. A guide to Victorian Alice-in-Wonderland themed teas, there are games and a little bit of history and many pictures of well-dressed children and delicious looking tea party fare. I've yet to try out the Butterfly Bites or Frozen Charlotte cake, but the recipes look simple enough for a beginning baker. My favorite bit? The fairy themed Midsummer Night Tea. If you can't get to Alice's Tea Cup (my favorite restaurant in NYC, by the by-best described by the words bohemian, Carrollesque, and thebestsconesinNY), this little title may hold you over.

Extra Bits:
*Tracy Porter's Blog
*Naughty Secretary's interview with Sonya
(And for that matter, check out the Beadalicious Flickr and Etsy Shop)
*Pearls and Tea, a livejournal community for pretty little things. If you like the above books, you'll love it there
*If you combine all three titles, you get An Idea, Perfectly Illustrated by Gala Darling, where she elaborates on how to "dress like a cupcake should feel"
*A Fanciful Twist held a Tiny Tea Party on her blog; if you should ever need inspiration for a daily outfit or fashion sketches, visit the comments
*Oktavia's Neo-Martha has an apartment with all the whimsy of Porter, but in a sort of vintage-bohemian way.
*Do you fancy Nature Baroque? Cocotte is a sweet assemblage series made from blown eggs, insect wings, and teardrops

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