Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

by Victoria Hudgins
Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed

by Victoria Hudgins


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“Perfect for anyone embracing their crafty side for the first time (or those who just want to keep developing their design chops)” (HGTV).
Design enthusiasts are bombarded with beautiful inspiration at every turn, but many lack the foundation necessary to recreate their dream projects. In Materially Crafted, Victoria Hudgins, creator of the popular design blog A Subtle Revelry, uncovers the best and least intimidating ways to work with the most popular crafting materials—from spray paint and concrete to thread, wax, and paper—and presents more than thirty easy projects to get everyone started. Peppered with Hudgins’s tips for “merrymaking the everyday” (using simple DIY ideas to live life more joyfully) plus inspirational photos of projects created by other prominent bloggers, Materially Crafted is an indispensable guide for a new generation of design enthusiasts looking to DIY their own distinctive style.
“Her book focuses on materials and great ways (including 30 main projects) to transform them into something special.” —Design*Sponge

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613123973
Publisher: ABRAMS, Inc.
Publication date: 10/01/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 822,076
File size: 28 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Victoria Hudgins is the creator of the popular lifestyle blog A Subtle Revelry, where she shares simple ideas for merrymaking the everyday. She is the founding editor of the digital magazine Styld and has created an e-course on creating a profitable blog. She lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two children.

Read an Excerpt



HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU STARTED a craft project and never quite gotten around to finishing it? How many times have you laughed at the blogs featuring Pinterest "fails" only to be grateful that your own fails never made it online? Over the years, I've talked with many readers of my blog, A Subtle Revelry, and learned that many of them have very long lists of projects, crafts, and tasks they want to tackle, but no clear plan for how to see these things through. In fact, they have little hope that many of their ideas will actually become a reality. Why is this?

It is certainly not from lack of inspiration, nor lack of materials. Lack of time perhaps, but then again we all seem to make time for the things we really want to see through. No, over the past two years of interacting with readers, blogging, and pinning, I have come to learn that the reason we stall out on great ideas is because we lack a foundation of skills — we need a guide to lead us. Guides teach us how to accomplish what we desire and encourage us to develop the right techniques.

It always begins the same: We see a pretty photo, we click the link. We read a post that starts with "melt the wax" and we freeze because we don't really know how to melt wax, what kind of wax to use (is it different from the wax we — painfully — experience at the salon? we wonder), or where to buy the wax.

We then search "working with wax" online and come upon article after article of technical jargon that often contradicts itself, and is full of unrelated keywords and obnoxious ads. We get discouraged, downhearted, and quickly put aside the original idea we had to be creative, to make something new and unique with our hands. And we return to scrolling through the pin boards, seeing great ideas and dreaming about accomplishing them someday.

So here's the question: What if you had a guide to lead you through these photos and posts? A guide that could take you back to basics and teach, in simple language, the skills needed to work with a foundation of simple materials to produce projects mirroring the beautiful inspiration you find online? A guide to take you through the process and give you the ability to stumble upon any photo and make it a reality in your own life?

That is what I hope this book becomes for you. A guide to take along with you on your blog-hopping, Pinterest-scrolling, Instagram-idea-making adventures. Each chapter is devoted to a different common craft material, so that you are ready to tackle any project that you find online or in the bookstore. I have also included a lookbook at the end of each chapter which showcases other gorgeous DIY projects that have inspired me from some of my favorite bloggers and pinners. From finding inspiration to getting prepared and gathering the right tools, Materially Crafted will teach you to create the amazing projects you've always wanted for your own materially crafted home!

ON FINDING inspiration

If you are looking for a treasure trove of crafting inspiration, I hope this book will help by encouraging you to play around with materials you may not have thought to use before. I find that often it's the actual work of starting a project that ends up inspiring me in many new and different ways. So if you are feeling stuck for inspiration, my greatest piece of advice would be to get crafting: Just. Start. Something. Now! Here are a few other tips I have for staying creative and getting inspired:


I always seem to find new inspiration when I break up my current routine. Read a new genre, go to a new type of event, eat at a new restaurant, pick a new material from this book to explore, or go to a new park with the kids. Enliven your senses to new experiences, and you will pick up inspiration as you go. In my opinion, routine is the enemy of creativity.


This tip could easily be translated as: Travel. Experiencing new cultures is the singlemost inspiring thing a creative person can do. However, with kids, work, and everyday life, it is not always possible to jet-set around the world. In the meantime, exploring new neighborhoods in your own town can be quite inspiring.


I try to make time every so often to catch up on a couple of my favorite international magazines, like Vogue Living Australia and Elle Décor. I find the scope of ideas in these magazines is greater since many American magazines take their stories from the same sites I read daily. When reading them, go beyond the explicit and write down the names of inspiring photographers, stylists, and products to research later. Many of my conceptual ideas, pins, and projects come from exploring this world of media.


Museums are great resources but concerts and dance performances can be just as inspiring. Anywhere you can find art around you, soak it up and jot down what you love for later.


One of my favorite inspiring activities is to shop vintage stores. Walking around, dreaming about repurposing items, and seeing the designs of the past have a way of really jogging my creative side. And never skip the book section! Home design pre1980 is so fun to read about and always inspires a new project or two for me.


This one happens more often by mistake, when I forget that having caffeine after 2 P.M. is a great recipe for insomnia. My most creative ideas come when my body is at rest and my mind is racing. Next time you are up past midnight, try brainstorming about an upcoming project and write down what you dream up. Just be sure to erase 40 percent of the crazed, middle-of-the-night thoughts the next morning.


Driving has a very cathartic effect on my mind. It redirects the left side of my brain and allows the right, creative side, to let loose. Distracting your brain from the problem at hand can often spark a burst of creative genius, so go out and take a drive if you're feeling uninspired.


Take something you currently have in your home that you don't love and challenge yourself to remake it into something you do! Once every few months, I go through the house and pick out pieces that are "almost" awesome. I set them on a table in the garage and begin to envision what would make them spectacular. Often, a new coat of paint, a change of fabric, or switching up how I use the item is all I need to make many pieces in my home much more useful to me. I love having plants around the house, but was recently underwhelmed by the pots I had. Forcing myself to envision the plants in different planters made me realize the rustic look of concrete would help them look awesome next to just about anything, and inspired the Large Concrete Planters on this page.

ON CHOOSING a project

Taking inspiration and turning it into reality is the hardest part about embarking on a new DIY project. When you begin to plan craft projects there are many factors to take into consideration, the most important of which are the amount of time you have to put something together, your budget for materials, and your current skill set. Have you ever finished a project and sat there wondering why it looks so different than the photo online? It's important to achieve a balance between expectation and reality, and projects often fail because one or more of these factors are off.

After you've assessed these factors, determining your vision is the next crucial step. One of the best and worst products of the incredible wealth of inspiration online is that too much inspiration can quickly translate into too much clutter! Before you embark on starting any craft, stop and ask yourself the larger questions: How will this particular idea fit into my life? How will it be beneficial to me? How will it make me feel when it's complete? Not everything in life has to be functional in the traditional sense, but everything you bring into your home should function to make your life more beautiful.

The best reason to become a more proficient crafter is that once you have a solid foundation, there's no end to your options for customizing any project to suit your needs! As you are looking for projects and inspiration, don't bypass something because the color isn't what you'd choose or the design doesn't quite suit your whimsy. Note the ideas and concepts and learn to design and re-create them in a way that adds beauty, value, and function to your home.

ON HAVING the right tools

After you've determined your vision, and before you begin crafting and creating, it is important to make sure your toolbox is properly stocked. There is nothing worse than being halfway through a project only to realize you don't have a tool necessary for completing it (you wouldn't try to make a new dish in the kitchen without making sure you had all the ingredients, would you?). When starting a new craft project, first read through all of the instructions once, then clear off a workspace and lay out all of your materials and tools in a cute and inspirational way — you won't believe how much this will help you in seeing your project through.

A downfall to many online tutorials is that materials lists often focus only on materials used for the actual project, but leave out tools that are needed to construct the project. While you won't always have every item in your stash already, here are the craft tools I use the most. Use this list to make sure your box is stocked before embarking on the projects in this — or any — book or online.


The vast majority of crafts will require scissors at some point. They are important — their strength and sharpness or lack thereof can easily take your ideal project and turn it into a success or a failure. I like to keep four different pairs on hand for a variety of uses:

FABRIC SCISSORS: If you will be doing any fabric work or sewing, a good pair of fabric scissors is incredibly important. Choose 8" (20-cm) scissors with a strong metal blade and only use them on your fabric. Fabric scissors will quickly dull when used on other materials, and they need to be sharp to give you crisp, even lines. Store them in a cotton bag or sheath when not in use. (Note: Hide them from the family so they are not used for opening packages of chicken in a pinch — lesson learned from experience.) To sharpen dull scissors you can purchase a sharpening kit from your local craft store, or for an easy DIY solution, fold a piece of aluminum foil over about 4 times and cut through the piece with your scissors 4 to 5 times. It's a cheap fix that works really well! I tend to sharpen my scissors every 3 months or so, depending on how often I find myself cutting fabric.

DETAIL SCISSORS: For thread cutting, intricate paper crafting, and other detail-oriented projects, a set of small scissors provides nice, quick cuts. For these projects, my favorite scissors are 4" (10-cm) floral scissors, which you can pick up at any local garden store. They have a very sharp tip and are great for cuts when the detail of the snip is important.












CRAFT SCISSORS: Everyday crafting scissors are another necessary addition to the tool-box. These should be sharpened quarterly (or every 25 projects) for prime usage. Craft scissors can be sharpened the same way that sewing scissors are sharpened, although I find sandpaper often works better than aluminum for these thinner blades. Use medium-grade sandpaper and try cutting through a sheet of waxed paper afterwards to lubricate the blade. Find a pair that measure 6 to 8" (15 to 20 cm) and have a firm, comfortable handhold. These can be used on paper and other crafting materials.

WIRE CUTTERS: These are great for cutting floral wire and other thick wire, as well as firmer materials like cardboard.


Thread is a material that is usually purchased as needed for craft projects; however, I always keep a long length of white kitchen twine, a roll of fishing wire, and one skein of bright pink embroidery floss on hand. Thread is one of the materials most often left out of craft project instructions, so having a couple of basic colors and types on hand will help combat any unexpected omissions.


I keep a package of embroidery needles on hand for last-minute fixes. Embroidery needles (also called crewel needles) are similar to hand-sewing needles except the eye of the needle is larger and the tip is slightly more blunt. The wide eye makes it easier to thread the needle for quick detail additions or necessary adjustments.


While not normally considered a craft necessity, I use waxed paper just as much as anything else in my toolbox. A length of waxed paper torn from a roll you picked up at the grocery store will protect your work surface, preventing spilled paint from staining or drips of wax from sticking to your table. Waxed paper will also keep colored clay from transferring its color to your work area. It's a go-to for all craft projects in my house, and a roll of it will keep you cleanly crafting away all day long.


Although there are many types of glue, hot glue is by far my favorite. I know I am probably insane, but I think it might be the cure for all my crafting woes. It works to glue just about anything together — I've used it to hang photos, fix tears, and secure anything I need to at a moment's notice. (Needless to say, you'll also need hot glue sticks to keep the gun gluin'.) I would never start a craft project without my trusty glue gun nearby, loaded and ready to fire. See this page for more glue options.


A basic pencil eraser is another tool that has many nontraditional uses beyond simply erasing an errant line. It is often a go-to for marking my spot to cut or glue on paper and fabric. An eraser makes a perfect last-minute pincushion to store needles and pins during craft time. A couple of cuts with an X-Acto knife turns an eraser into a custom stamp. Erasers clean up scuffs and dust quickly and can even restore the original shiny patina of aged metal pipes.


An accidental addition to my craft toolbox, my nail file happened to jump in one day and it was used so many times, I never took it out. A nail file is a nice substitute for a bone folder to be used for folding, bending, and creasing paper. It is helpful in situations where a small straight edge is needed and works wonderfully for popping out plaster, papier-mâché, or wax from molds. And it's also nice to have on hand since nice nails are often a casualty of the crafty lifestyle. I use a regular cardboard emery board, but a metal file would work as well.


An X-Acto knife works great on clay, hardened wax, paper, fabric, and thin wood for projects where detail is important. Choose a stable knife with a turning head that can be locked in place for the best results.


A Sharpie is like a pencil on steroids for the crafter. I use my Sharpies for everything from making labels to "printing" on fabric (I have even used them to decorate phone covers and plates), to create trendy and personalized projects.


A pencil is an obvious choice for a crafting toolbox, but one I have often been left scrambling to find. Be sure to have a couple sharpened and close by before embarking on a new project.


A basic straight edge is an important addition to any craft toolbox. Use it to measure, draw, and crease as you go.


Knowing how to use the color wheel is invaluable for planning out your DIY projects. I often turn to mine when I'm trying to pick the perfect paint or paper colors to compliment a new craft. Although the color wheel contains multitudes of different hues, the slices of color shown here represent a smaller, more modern selection. When you're ready to choose hues for your own projects, use this wheel as a reference and follow my two rules of thumb:


You can never go wrong by matching a color in your home with its opposite color on the wheel. Looking for a complementary color for your plum DIY dream? Look at the color directly across the wheel and you'll find that you're perfectly in style with a funky shade of green.


If going opposite is not your style, choose a triad of colors that are all connected. Look at the colors directly to the right or directly to the left of the color of your choosing to create a classic combination that will always look great.


Choosing the best paintbrush for the project is almost as important as the paint itself. A too thin, too thick, or too brittle brush can instantly take a piece from gallery worthy to preschool art project. You can use either natural- or synthetic-bristle brushes; the price and quality will vary by shape and material. Here are my favorite brush shapes:

ROUND: The round brush, or art brush, is what most people are accustomed to using. It has a nice round tip to allow paint to flow out of it smoothly and is great for painting on wood and canvas or other small projects.

FLAT: A flat brush produces pretty wide brushstrokes and is great for detail painting and creating stripes. It doesn't hold as much paint in the bristles as a round brush, so it works best on non-porous materials.

RIGGER: A rigger brush is very long and thin, making it perfect for handlettering or anything requiring a thin line.


Excerpted from "Materially Crafted"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Victoria Hudgins.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

SECTION ONE the basics,
ON FINDING inspiration,
ON CHOOSING a project,
ON HAVING the right tools,
ON EXECUTING your ideas,
SECTION TWO materials + projects,

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