Pretoria - If you sometimes need to catch your breath and slow down your crazy world, there’s nothing more therapeutic than some creative endeavour to switch your rhythms into something that takes your mind off all the serious issues. DIANE DE BEER takes a look at the latest Do It Yourself books on the shelves.

Twenty to Make: Pewter Jewellery by Sandy Griffiths (Metz Press, R85)

If jewellery is something you like, this is a great idea, for yourself, family and friends. It helps if you have a creative side, but even if not, there’s much to do with a little guidance. Choose from many brooches, bracelets, necklaces and earrings and be imaginative in your approach if you want to play around. This will teach you the techniques, point out what you need from the start and help you first pick the easier assignments.

It’s perfect for this chilly weather and when the festive season comes around, you will have a cupboard full of gifts to choose from. There’s nothing better than something you made for someone else. It’s also not really gender or age specific. The designs or items can be adapted to suit a particular individual.

Little Flowers in silk and organza ribbon by Di van Niekerk and Marina Zherdeva (Metz Press, R220)

Would you have thought that this could be a hobby? Not on your life? Well take the time to glance through the book when next you’re in a book store. It might just appeal to your sensibility. Or check it out on the website:

Yes she’s from Russia and as a professional woman, she didn’t have much time to do what she’s always loved, sewing, something she was taught by her gran and mom. But when she saw some exquisite work in ribbon, she saw a way of following her passion and these techniques were her own invention.

It’s delicate, it’s pretty and in a way it’s almost like making a painting with fabrics, but I would imagine that it could be applied in a fashion sense as well. In fact, it’s open to interpretation and allows you to do anything you want. It’s a step-by- step book, but if you’re more of a wild child, you might want to create your own designs. But this might prevent mistakes that might occur because of inexperience.

Buttons, Felt and Beads by Michelle Felder (Metz Press, R185)

This is the one that really appeals to me. I have collected buttons my whole life and have had lots of fun through the years. My most recent application is to cover any flaw on any clothing item I might have lost my heart to. If a jersey suddenly has little holes appearing, I’ll simply flash a few buttons and a new fashion item is born – or that’s what I believe, anyway. Someone showed me some gloves recently that sported a few buttons as extra decoration and it made such a statement. This is that kind of book. It shows you many different ways of playing with buttons and beads and it’s not a tough ask. As buttons and beads can be expensive items, keep your eyes peeled at markets or auctions where you can usually pick up someone else’s castoffs.

Natural Soap Making by Bev Missing (Metz Press, R220)

Why is home-made soap such an appealing thing? The author says it’s a rewarding and creative pastime and that makes sense. It’s immediately gratifying and you can use soap at home or pass it around as gifts that will make anyone smile. What she has done is to simplify the process with loads of ideas to help you turn out your own recipes. It offers colour guides, fragrance formulas and practical advice on moulds, trimming and curing and packaging, with extensive details for those who want to turn this into a money-making concern.

The book is also generously illustrated, which is always a good thing as it helps to visualise what they’re trying to explain. The author has more than 15 years of experience and knows all the tricks of the trade. If this has been a yearning, this seems to be the solution. It will kickstart the creative journey.

Crewel Intentions, Fresh ideas about Jacobean embroidery by Hazel Blomkamp (Metz Press, R210)

If you didn’t know, like me, that Jacobean embroidery existed, you should probably pass on this one, but on the other hand, if you’re good with a needle, this might be one to try. The author has dabbled in many of the crafts, especially needlecrafts, since childhood. She used embroidery to break the tedium when still nursing her babies. Her children are now young adults and she still embroiders in front of the TV.

This particular embroidery style is explained thus: the joy of having a blank canvas to work on using only cotton, rayon and metallic threads along with beads and crystals. The designs in the book are embroidered on to cotton. But she tells you in detail how to go about it and offers many solutions for problems you might discover on the way.

You will know if this is something that might catch your fancy.

Water Marks – paint flowers with water, colour and texture by Monique Day-Wilde (Metz Press, R185)

Has anyone ever heard of this craft? Water marks? What they say is that this particular book takes you beyond the boundaries of translucent watercolours to create rich, vivid colours and I have to say, the pictures are exquisite and the colours vibrant. The projects showcase a mix of water media in familiar and unconventional, experimental ways. These include paints, ink, coloured pencils and fabric dye.

She also encourages those practising these painting techniques to take risks, be adventurous and to experiment and then she gives you ways to use discarded endeavours so that nothing goes to waste. It looks like fun if you have an artistic bent.

Fabric Decoupage by Alet Genis (Metz Press, R185)

This is obviously the stuff homes are made of. You will know immediately if this is your kind of thing and if it is, there’s loads of fun to be had. With more than 50 projects, there are plenty of ideas to keep you going and this is what this one is especially good at.

It’s not so much about learning, although handy tips are given throughout, but it does get your mind going with things to do. It teaches you how to upgrade a tired cake tin, or turn a nifty bottle into something quite extraordinary; how to add to your linen cupboard, which is an easy place to start, and how to turn a quick gift into something even more unusual. It really is all about your home and how you can play around with nooks and crannies and turn them into something special or hide their sins.

But that’s what all these books are about. Not many of us have the time any more for hobbies. but it’s more than that. If you need to escape in your head and don’t just want to sit in front of the TV, this is where to turn. There’s nothing like doing something creative to add to the therapeutic value in your life. And it can and should be huge fun.

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