Craft Cottage Book Reviews

The Cottage members have decided to feature some of the books available for use from their extensive library. At present, the books may be viewed or borrowed from the library during Cottage opening hours. To come to one of the Craft Groups find out more on the meet ups page.

Pressed Flowers : Decorative Projects To Enhance The Home

Alison Jenkins;  Southwater, 2000

Alison Jenkins offers a variety of ideas and instructions for projects to use pressed flowers as decoration on different household items and to create gifts. The projects include wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags and pictures as well as candles and applying flowers to glass, papier mache and timber. A couple of the projects use pressed flowers with fabric to make sachets and a screen.

The book has a short guide to basic techniques for pressing flowers, both in books and with a flower press, also a brief guide to make your own press.  The instructions include step by step colour photographs and templates for all projects.

The Complete Book of Pressed Flowers

Penny Black;  Collins 1988

This book, first published in 1988, is a colourfully illustrated guide to the pressing of all kinds of flowers, foliage and also seaweed and, surprisingly, vegetables. The reader is guided step by step through the process of growing, selecting, gathering and the pressing of specimens to use for making pictures, cards, displays and decorations.

It includes a section outlining the necessary tools and equipment required for the suggested projects and how they are used. The types of card, paper and fabric that are used to create pictures are also discussed, as are pens and inks and non-plant materials e.g. Ribbon, beads. The section entitled ‘Composition, structure and texture’, which suggests ideas for various projects, is followed by ideas and instructions for particular projects.


Jenny Balfour-Paul
British Museum, 1998

Jenny Balfour-Paul is a renowned authority on indigo; she has published and lectured on the subject for 20 years. In this book she explores the fascinating history of the cultivation of the plant and its uses, particularly as a dye. Indigo has been used to dye textiles from ancient times. There is archaeological evidence of its use in ancient Egypt, Babylon, all over Asia, Central and South America, Europe and Africa. The plants, belonging to the Indigofera family, are the only natural source of blue dye.

This book also considers the various methods for extracting dye from the plant and methods of dyeing worldwide, methods often unchanged and still used today. Also covered are
patterning techniques using indigo and its use in art, health and folklore.

There are two more recent editions of this book, published in 2006 and 2011.


Jean K. Carman
Rigby, 1978

Sadly, now out of print, this book is a very handy reference book for the use of Australian eucalypts for making dyes. It is a result of experiments that the author, herself, carried out, beginning with using the trees on her own property. The book has chapters on species of eucalypts from each state of Australia and Papua New Guinea, where they can be found, and the colours that may be obtained from leaves, wood or bark. The author also discusses methods, equipment and preparation of the materials to be dyed. 

Helpfully, she also includes a list of species organised by the colour obtained, a list of eucalypts native to more than one state and an index of species tested.Eucalypts can produce a vast array of colours – shades of red, tan, orange, brown, grey, green, yellow.

Anne Dluzniak


Ruth Lee
Batsford, 2010

While not actually a book totally devoted to basketry, this book covers many of the techniques commonly used in the making of baskets. The author approaches the topic in a more innovative, experimental and modern way. Each chapter describes a technique, giving step-by-step instructions to achieve a piece of jewellery, a hanging, vessel or 3-dimensional decorative objects. All types of materials are used – string, rope, plastic tubing, fabric strips, wire and found objects.

It is a colourful book with many ideas and plenty of inspiration for exploring beyond traditional basketry.


The Fibre Basket Weavers of South Australia Inc.; edited
by Helen Richardson
Kangaroo Press, 1989

This book is the result of a collaboration of a group of basket makers in South Australia, who have shared their vast knowledge and experience, to produce a book that looks at the craft of basketry from an Australian perspective. It has become an indispensable reference for Australian basket makers even though it was written almost 30 years ago. The book covers, in detail, the collection, drying and storage of plants, native or introduced, commonly available in Australian gardens and the countryside. There are clear and concise instructions for basic basketry techniques such as coiling, twining, stitching and weaving. The book has clear diagrams of the techniques throughout and many photos of finished articles. It includes a chapter on decorations and finishes for projects.

Anne Dluzniak