Do-it-yourself projects, by the book


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DIY craft books have been landing fast and furious this year, many in time for do-it-yourself holiday splendor. But are the projects really as easy to make as the authors say? Do the decoupaged chairs and stenciled lampshades and concrete candleholders really turn out as well as promised — well enough to be deployed as holiday décor or given as gifts? We put three books to the test (see links at the bottom of the post) and wanted to point readers toward other books that might make nice gifts for the DIYer:

“Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on Twenty-Four Classic Projects From the ‘60s and ‘70s” by Cathy Callahan, better known to shoppers of L.A. mod craft fairs as Cathy of California. Think macramé plant hangers, papier-mâché gift boxes and bottle wind chimes for the Highland Park vintage vinyl crowd. Chronicle Books, $19.95.


“Stencil It: 101 Ideas to Decorate Your Home, by Helen Morris. A rundown of techniques as well as ideas for stenciling drapes, lamps, tables, walls, pillows and more. For those who need more hand-holding, the book provides 15 stencils — dogs, agapanthus flowers, even babushka dolls. St. Martin’s Press, $29.99.

‘State of Craft,’ edited by Victoria Woodcock. In sifting through books and identifying projects that readers could pull off quickly, the Home crew set aside ideas that we hope to tackle later. Chief among them: a decoupage children’s chair in this book. Cicada, $19.95.

“Design Sponge at Home,” by Grace Bonney. Popular blog with emphasis on affordable decorating has been repackaged in book form. The section on DIY projects is easy to follow, and most can be done in an afternoon. Artisan Books, $35. “DIY Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide,” by Christopher Stuart. A compilation of 30 cheeky projects from design studios around the world. The furniture — shelves made from PVC pipe, an armchair made from rubber doormats, a sofa cushioned with pyramid-shaped audio sound insulation and, our favorite, a sun bed framed with a hand truck — are industrial in look and more difficult to make. Master’s class, not grade-school fun. Laurence King Publishing, $24.95.

“The Bust DIY Guide to Life: Making Your Way Through Every Day,” by Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller. “Guide to Life” has tips on beauty, fashion and finance too, all with attitude. But our dogeared pages? Decorating, all the way. STC Craft/Melanie Falick, $29.95.


‘Weekend Handmade’


‘Hardware Store Decor’

‘Concrete Garden Projects’

-- Craig Nakano