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BIBLIOCraft Review by Melanie Reynolds

Jessica Pigza
Stewart, Tabori & Chang-An Imprint of Abrams
115 West 18th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011
(212) 206-7715
Reviewed in2015

Jessica Pigza’s BIBLIOCraft is a beautiful resource for the beginner, intermediate, or experienced crafter and artisan . . . or for the educator who would like to create art based on unexpected treasures found in public libraries. Half project book and half instructional manual, BIBLIOCraft teaches the user not only how to design incredible art projects, but how to find inspiration in libraries, both traditional and digital. An experienced librarian, artist, and instructor herself, Pigza has created an engaging book which will both equip and encourage the reader to venture out into the world of library-inspired art.

Part One of BIBLIOCraft, “Finding Inspiration at the Library,” contains an excellent tutorial on the library and finding resources within it. Have you ever been confounded by the search bar on your local library’s website? Have you been overwhelmed by the amount of material the library contains? Pigza has provided a clean, clear handbook for locating information, browsing for inspiration, and understanding what is available in libraries. She discusses the different types of libraries (branch, research, and special collections), directions for finding what you need (catalogs, call numbers, and the Library of Congress), digital libraries, and navigating the world of copyright protection. She also has a fantastic listing of recommended library collections which will spark any crafter’s imagination.

Part One is the library instructional manual I never knew I needed. As a voracious reader, I have always regarded my public library, wherever I’ve lived, as my home away from home. I probably sensed on some level there were facets of the library experience I wasn’t exploring . . . but since I was happily ensconced in my library’s fiction area, I was able to blithely ignore them. BIBLIOCraft has definitely opened some new doors for me!

As a homeschool mom who loves to include art in our studies and as an occasional crafter myself, I must admit that I’ve never viewed the library itself as a source of inspiration and creativity, at least in the way Pigza describes. I’ve checked out actual instructional craft books and art books to compose lesson plans, but I have never sought out primary sources as jumping-off points for design. Once I read BIBLIOCraft Part One, however, I felt truly equipped to search out library resources, to use them legally and without infringing on copyrights, and inspired to look into both the digital and the brick-and-mortar library worlds for ideas.

Part Two of BIBLIOCraft, “Projects Inspired by the Library,” contains a collection of 20 different art or craft projects created by a broad variety of experienced. Pigza invited 15 accomplished artisans to create projects based on library collections (as well as several of her own designs). These projects vary in difficulty level from simple to complex, and there really is something for everyone. Even if you choose not to make the actual projects, I believe your creativity will be jump-started simply by reading this beautiful book . . . and you’ll soon devise ideas of your own! BIBLIOCraft includes directions for you to follow, plus pictures of the library collections which inspired each artist’s work (as well as tips to enable you to find similar resources). Here is a sampling of the designs you can make at home:

  • Watermark Pillows

  • Cyanotype Throw

  • Soil Profile Growth Chart

  • Cartouche Embroidery

  • Japanese Heraldry Coasters

  • Paper Towns

  • Radish Love Tote

Whether you are a hobbyist or a fine artist, you will find projects that will capture your imagination. I consider myself to be a crafter who falls between the novice and intermediate skill levels, and most of the projects here were accessible for me. There are even some which I believe I could do together with my middle-school-aged son. The majority of the projects are probably best for middle-school students and up, but parents and children can definitely work on them together to produce exceptional artwork.

I thoroughly enjoyed BIBLIOCraft. It is an absolutely gorgeous book, from the cover and the binding to the photographs and the projects contained within. It is also very useful; even if I never created any of the projects in BIBLIOCraft, I would prize it for its excellent tutorial on using library collections and resources. But I do love the projects and am actually planning to create several of them, with friends and family in mind! BIBLIOCraft is available in hardback version for $27.95.

-Product Review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2015