Throughout 2018 we’ll be bringing you curated lists of books for craft business owners. Erin Dollar, founder of Cotton & Flax, a home decor products company based in California, is an avid reader with a library of books to share. She’ll be choosing a selection each season and describing what each book has to offer. Erin is here today sharing her spring book picks!
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We’re a quarter of the way into 2018, and while New Year’s Resolutions may be waning, I find Spring to be a great time of renewal in my creative business. It’s a great time to get inspired, find some encouragement for your ambitious projects, and fuel your creative fire. Here are my recommendations for this season:
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair
A fascinating compendium of the histories of colors. From beige to acid yellow, indigo, and Kelly Green, St. Clair uncovers the origins of pigments across the spectrum, revealing the mysterious and sometimes bizarre stories behind their creation and use. Chapters are organized by color-family, with color-saturated margins to guide your reading.
The introduction covers the science behind humans’ color vision, setting the stage for stories that detail the incredible lengths artists and scientists have gone to in the name of beautiful pigments. One gruesome chapter described how mummies were once used to create brown pigments for paints, resulting in a black market for mummified remains! This vivid journey through art history is inspiring, all while cultivating gratitude for all the conveniences of the modern art supply store.
The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun
Anyone who has stepped foot in a yarn store knows that shelves of yarn represent endless possibilities. Okun’s debut book of essays is an intimate peek into the ways that crafting has made an impact on her life. Perhaps the most interesting theme of the book is how knitting can both draw people together, or alternately contribute to the unraveling of a relationship. The titular essay explores the crafter’s legend that if you begin to knit your significant other a sweater, you’ll break up before the sweater is even finished. Okun examines how the act of knitting inspired thoughtful contemplation — thus, the examination of whether a boyfriend is really worth all that knitting and purling effort. Whether it’s healing from grief after the loss of a friend, or how teaching her craft draws her closer to others, this book highlights our relationship to our craft, and gets at the core of why we make.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Offering a glimpse into the routines and rhythms of 171 artists, Daily Rituals paints a picture of how creative work gets done. Short, well-researched chapters detail the ways that painters, novelists, poets, playwrights, and other creatives manage their lives, so that they could be productive and prioritize their creative work. This book pulls back the curtain on the creative process of artists like Maya Angelou, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, and Andy Warhol, bringing their creativity down to Earth, and perhaps even relatable to our own pursuits. An especially interesting topic in the age of social media, as the demands on our time seem to be steadily growing.
One of the most impactful creative projects of the last decade, the pink Pussyhat Project inspired tens of thousands of crafters to pick up their knitting needles, the pussyhat has become a symbol of support and solidarity for women’s rights and political resistance around the world. This book from Krista Suh, one of the creators of the Pussyhat Project, comes one year after she first shared the idea with the world, and covers the lessons she’s learned since becoming an influential leader for social change virtually overnight. If you ever wonder what kind of valuable impact can be achieved through craft, this book illuminates the possibilities.
hings Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz
This is an uplifting, quick read for anyone needing encouragement in their creative work. Kurtz covers territory that will be familiar to any creative: rejection, honing your voice, creative blocks, false starts, distractions, moving on after failure, collaborating, celebrating wins, and much more. Kurtz’s wisdom is shared via handwritten notes, jotted down in his trademark all-caps lettering, seemingly torn from a pocket notebook. The advice is funny, poignant, and relatable. One list, titled “How to get started,” offers steps like:
- OK OK OK FINE
- WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
- BREAK IT INTO STEPS
- TAKE A NAP???
This book features a unique design element: the pages are perforated to easily tear and share your favorite advice. I breezed through this little handbook quickly on the first read, but I’m keeping the page titled “Count your blessings” near my desk as a reminder to celebrate my creative accomplishments.
Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.