Junk Genius: Stylish Ways to Repurpose Everyday Objects, with Over 80 Projects and Ideas, by Juliette Goggin and Stacy Sirk.
I stumbled upon this upcycling craft book on Amazon while adding others to my wishlist. I hadn't heard of it before and wondered why, only to realise my discovery must have been an early one, it only having been published in September, as it's popped up in several craft magazines since! So when a Waterstones voucher came my way, I knew exactly what I wanted to spend it on.
You may recognise Juliette Goggin's name as she's a regular on the channel 4 tv programme Super Scrimpers, in which you'll find her patiently showing young sorts how to makeover their clothes and home furnishings. Her career includes designing her own gift and home collection, and sourcing products for names such as Cath Kidston and French Connection.
Stacy Sirk works in product development alongside some huge brands, such as Urban Outfitters, Macy's and Nike. The pair wrote this book from opposite sides of the pond, reminding me of another very successful craft book of 2012! Terminology throughout the book is primarily American with the British alternative term in brackets, and this pleased me, because we all want to feel a book is written 'for us'.
The first section of this rather sensual (yes, I said sensual) hardback is dedicated to 'finding junk'. This reminded me of Sarah Moore's Homemade Gifts Vintage Style and I always find it handy to get an author's viewpoint on the best ways to find lovely treasures to upcycle. I get really excited about thrifting, so a section dedicated to this filled me with enthusiasm. There then follows a list of '40 Common Items' - perfect if you're like me and carry round a shopping list of the things you're after, only to become overwhelmed.
The projects themselves are divided into sections, Jewelry and Decoration, Fabric and Trims, Paper and Card, China and Wood, Glass and Mirror, Metal and Wire and Furniture and Furnishings.
So the all important question here, is what did I think of the content - the projects themselves? Well there are certainly some projects where the idea is quite well worn; decorated decanters, for example, covered notebooks and flower brooches. BUT I think that depends on how much a seasoned upcycling/craft book reader you are, and there were many, many more projects that were new ideas to me and got me adding them to my 'to try' list. The tweed laptop bag (recently in Mollie Makes), thimble pendants, bunting made from ties, and a rather beautiful medicine cabinet all gave me 'aha' moments. If you have never tried upcycling before or are new to the vintage-infused lifestyle, you'll find plenty of ideas, presented in a fresh way.
If you're already a crafter, I'd say many of the projects don't need a how-to, simply the images will be enough to spark the idea and get you thinking of new ways to use thrifted finds. However, if you're new to this sort of thing, or wouldn't know, like me, how to make a laptop bag, you'll find the instructions full and clear.
The images throughout the book are beautiful, adding value as an idea generator and source of inspiration as much as anything. This book's about introducing you to a new lifestyle, a new way of thinking, as well as providing ideas for a quick gift for Aunt Mildred. I really like the fact that the projects aren't overly feminine. Although many will inevitably appeal only to women, if you're looking for a gift idea for a chap you'll find plenty, and male readers can be inspired too.
All in all I was really pleased with this book. A brand new hardback isn't something I would have bought without a voucher, so I most certainly would have returned it if it couldn't bring something to my life that others in my collection can't. I'll be using it for inspiration and as a resource for fresh ideas, and think it would be a real revelation to those who are new to the idea of making new from old, especially on a budget.
It's difficult not to compare it to Granny Chic as there are a number of similarities other than the geographical space between the authors. A curtain embellished with doilies, and a lace-covered lampshade, for example. This is either unfortunate timing - no one's fault, after all - or a bonus, as it just shows how popular vintage and upcycling are right now. For me it was a good thing, and as I don't see vintage and making new from old as a passing craze in my own life, for me, this is just more of the stuff I love to read about. To be fair, this book was published [just] first!
Junk Genius left me with a warm, homely feeling, a renewed excitement about getting out there and tracking down finds - especially little ones to make into quirky jewellery - and lots of new ideas. It would also make that most pointless and hated of things... an 'ideal coffee table book'. Gah. Pretentious, moi? My copy has certainly being hanging around my living room over the festive period, being picked up and passed around. Just what these sorts of books are perfect for.
Have you stumbled across any cracking craft/vintage books lately?