HOMEMADE by Carol Sterbenz

When I first picked up Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts, I was skeptical that a 773-page craft book with a retro cover and no color photographs would be worth my time. Then I started reading it. I’m happy to report that I was wrong.

Homemade is an illustrated encyclopedia of handcrafts written by Carol Endler Sterbenz, whose unique voice, lifetime of experience, and passion for crafting infuse every page of this book.

In the introduction, which is a charming read, by the way, we discover that Carol learned to love crafting at a young age. She was tutored by a carpenter father and a mother who was such an accomplished handcrafter she makes Martha Stewart look like an amateur.

From that enviable beginning, Carol grew to become an author of more than twenty-five craft and decorating books and founding editor-in-chief of Handcraft Illustrated.

Carol designed Homemade as an indispensable reference that will inform and inspire beginners and expert crafters alike. It’s packed with hundreds of techniques and original projects—all explained with materials and tools lists, step-by-step instructions, and more than 800 hand-drawn illustrations, diagrams, and patterns.

Open Homemade book

It must have taken Carol and the illustrator (Harry Bates) years to produce this book.

Carol’s craft compendium features such handcrafts as beading, flower arranging (which includes making wreaths, garlands and topiaries, as well as pressing botanicals and making potpourri and body products), hand printing, découpage, decorative embellishing (which includes glass etching, gilding, dry embossing, ribbons and trims, decals, candles, restoring and recycling, and mosaics), paper crafting, and children’s crafts.

Whew. That was a long list.

The bottom line: Homemade will be to crafters what Joy of Cooking is to cooks. You could read Homemade cover to cover, and you wouldn’t be disappointed if you did. But you probably won’t. Just like Joy, you’ll browse through it looking for new crafts or tips/directions for old crafts.

Illustrations in Homemade

With multiple headings you can skim, you can easily find what you’re looking for and read just the parts you need. Or read it all. And why not? Carol is an eloquent and knowledgeable writer. I’ve merely scratched the surface of Homemade myself, but I look forward to returning to it again and again.

Now the part I’m most excited about: Carol is next week’s guest nester! She will be sharing her tutorial for one of my favorite crafts in her new book. It’s an easy, fun craft that I can’t wait to try. Look for the post next Wednesday.

Finally, this must be the season for giveaways, because I’ve got another one for ya! Carol sent me a copy of Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts to give away to one of my readers. This is a $45 book ($33 at Amazon), people! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me which craft in Homemade you are most interested in trying. I’ll choose one commenter at random to receive the book. The deadline is in one week—Friday, November 11, 2011 (which is 11-11-11, by the way).