February 18, 2009

Design It Yourself -- A Comparative Book Review

This Christmas, two books from the D.I.Y series edited by Ellen Lupton found their way into my household: The D.I.Y Deck and D.I.Y. Kids. Both were published in 2007 and were designed to follow up on the successful initial book of the series D.I.Y. Design It Yourself published in 2006.

Design and Layout

The design of the D.I.Y Deck is interesting because it is a collection of 25 cards reminiscent of recipe cards with each featuring a particular project. The card set is subdivided into the categories Invitations, Housewares, Totes, Stickers, Shirts, and Gifts. Handling the cards is kind of fun; you can sit on the floor and spread them around to sort through projects you might want to attempt. Some of the cards have more than one page, though, which makes it easy to miss the flip side pictures. All the projects are rated by cost and time required to complete them.

D.I.Y. Kids follows the traditional book layout. Its main categories are Graphics, Toys, Home, and Fashion. Within these areas you find a wealth of cool ideas, and suggestions. Pop-up cards, book art, book plates, doll clothes, stuffed animals, architectural models, magnetic games, decoupage purses, fashion design, reverse applique, graffiti furniture,... you get the idea. I don't know if it's because this book is marketed towards kids instead of stodgy grown ups, but the projects and ideas are a lot more inspiring than those of the adult D.I.Y. Deck. As with the adult set, for each project D.I.Y. Kids includes an estimate of the cost and time required to complete a project and how much help and mess may be involved in creating a masterpiece.

The Craft-Off
For this review Liz (7) and I teamed up to test the "books" in a craft-off. Liz followed the instructions for pixel icons in the D.I.Y. Kids book, while I sorted through the Deck to decide on a project that could incorporate her work. Judging by the proliferation of pixel icons on my desktop, the instructions in the Kids book were very clear. If anyone is in the market for 1 inch stickers of bunnies, let me know. The instructions for the clock re-design were also straightforward. Hints like "the clock has to be made from two distinct pieces of plastic" and "keep the clock hands in order to make it easier to reassemble the clock" may seem obvious, but were very much appreciated.

Here is the merger of our efforts. My husband brought this kitchen clock into our marriage. I hope he appreciates the re-design.

In the final analysis. D.I.Y. Kids is the better value with more interesting, creative ideas that easily translate into a D.I.Y. adult world.



May Luk Ceramics said...

That's a very informative review. Do you think my 12-yr-old niece would like the DIY kid?
I also have the DIY deck. I found the graphics very nice but the projects are really not that impressive. The T-shirt refashion was rubbish. As it cannot be wore properly. But it's all in the design, I reckon.
Thanks Simone

Paperelle said...

That clock looks great, I hope your husband liked it!

Beth said...

Great reviews. I like that you tested them out in a craft-off. Might have to pick up the DIY Kids book. Thanks!