Since moving house back in August I’ve not decorated a thing. Not because our house is already perfect, far from it, it has just had more practical needs to attend to first. It has given me plenty of time to ponder over how I’d like my walls to look and I've realised something - I have no idea where to start! I think my lack of vision may have something to do with not being given much creative freedom with my own bedroom growing up (“Fine, you can have blue wallpaper if you insist but only if it's this really pale one and you also have to have the border with the yellow flowers”). My husband has encouraged me on numerous occasions to draw/paint/play/experiment on the walls, after all if what I create doesn’t work out we can just decorate over it, but just the thought of it makes me feel naughty, I feel like if it isn’t sensible and uniform, it isn’t proper (which is somewhat at odds with the rest of my life). I need some gentle encouragement and a bit of hand holding to help get me started, so Im hoping that Wall Art by Clare Youngs can help me with that.
The first thing that strikes me on my intial flick through the pages is the variety of art and techniques included. There are pieces that will appeal to adults and others that will be loved by children, while the skills needed to achieve the art also range from being super easy to a little more challenging. After an introduction and an explanation of some of the techniques used in the book (such as enlarging templates using a homemade projector) there are four chapters: ‘Threads and Stitches’, ‘Cuts and Folds’, ‘Big and Bold’ and ‘Shapes and Colors’ (call me pernickety but I do wish we could have the English spelling).
Being a fan of all things paper, I assumed that chapter 2 would be my favourite, and indeed it did include three of my favourite projects: The beautiful and enchanting 'Shadow Box', the bold and graphic 'Elegant Swan' and the fun 'Galloping Horses' (I love that you can interact with them by pulling a string), however, as much as I love paper cutting and folding as an art form, I was surprised by how many projects in the other chapters appealed to me.
My inner textile artist must be trying to escape because while browsing through 'Threads and Stitches' I found myself wanting to weave, embroider and try my hand at macrame; while in 'Big and Bold' the craving I have to successfully paint something directly onto a wall was demonstrated wonderfully in the striking 'Beautiful Bird' project.
Finally in 'Shapes and Colo(u)rs' I’d love to try making a 'Finnish Himmeli Wreath' because who doesn’t love a bit of geometric style? I’m wondering if it would lose its charm if I made it using neon straws? I would also like to have a 'Living Wall' (maybe in my hallway), but I am wondering how these work, I can see the plants are held in by wire, but what stops the compost from falling out?
There is photo of the finished artwork for each project so you can easily see what it is you are hoping to achieve. There is also a list of materials and numbered step-by-step instructions (accompanied by hand drawn illustrations). All the steps are fairly bite size in length so are easy to follow.
The best thing about this book has to be the range of techniques and materials used: paper, washi tape, yarn, straws, stitching, knotting, sticking, a bit of hammering, planting, printing; if you can think of it there is a good chance that Clare has included it.
Unsurprisingly not all of the projects appealed to me, it is impossible to please everyone with such variety to choose from. I like a challenge and a bit of chaos so the 'Folded Arrowheads' and the 'Pretty Patchwork Wall' were too simple for my taste, but they did demonstrate perfectly how easy projects can still decorate a space really effectively.
I found this book was useful at giving me ideas that I could develop myself, but if you are new to making things and wanting to recreate the projects exactly as they are in the book, Clare has also included a selection of templates at the very back. Each templates has the name of the project and the page it can be found on, and by what percentage it needs to be enlarged by.
I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my walls but this book has at least helped by getting my brain into the right place to consider all the possibilities. It has made me realise that I don’t have to just settle for one colour of paint and rolls of wallpaper, anything goes!
Wall Art by Clare Youngs, photography by Joanna Henderson
Published by CICO Books
Images courtesy of CICO Books