I’ve been patrolling the library shelves, looking for a good DIY book, for a few weeks now. When I finally spotted Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco, I knew it was going to be a good one.
This book focuses on DIY projects that celebrate family heritage, memories and storytelling. In her introduction, Ilasco talks about how our homes tell the story of who we are. She describes our homes as “domestic scrapbooks that evolve over time as our lives progress.” The more meaningful the objects in the home, the richer the domestic scrapbook. This sentiment is a breath of fresh air in an age of minimalism and de-cluttering.
The book goes on to look at different individuals and how they have built their domestic scrapbooks. Each project is preceded with a story about why the DIY project was meaningful to the creator. The stories were just the right length to get a sense of how the DIY project could introduce meaning into the reader’s home. Although you could skip over the stories, I really enjoyed reading them.
Some of the projects were a bit hokey, but I thought a lot of them were great ideas. My personal favourites were the Vintage Fabric Display, the Memory Wall, and the Two-Family Crest. Another project that interested me (and more importantly, was at my skill level) was the City Rubbings. For this project you do rubbings of raised surfaces in your cities (e.g. signs, architectural elements etc.) and layer them into a collage. In order to really put this book through it’s paces, I figured that I had to give one of the projects a go, so I tried my luck with City Rubbings. Here’s how it went:
I started my City Rubbings project at The Artstore in Uptown Waterloo to gather my supplies. Along with paper, the book told me that I needed graphite sticks, wax crayons, or coloured pastels. I bought charcoal sticks. I learned very quickly that although charcoal looks an awful lot like graphite, it’s not the same thing. More on that later…
Armed with my supplies, I walked through the construction of UpTown with my eyes peeled for any raised signage or plaques. I finally found a heritage plaque at the old post office at King and Dupont.
The Conestoga Wagon is a pretty iconic symbol of this region, so I was anxious to get a rubbing of it. This is when I realized how much charcoal smears. Here’s how attempt number one turned out:
Not great, I know.
After multiple attempts and multiple failures to get a clear image, I realized that I would have better luck with a bigger sign. Fortunately, there was a bigger sign on the same building. After a quick and somewhat successful test on that, it was clear that we had to find a bigger sign. Knowing that we had exhausted the options in Uptown, we trooped over to Waterloo Park.
We found some great pieces to do rubbings of, including the City of Waterloo crest, but over and over there were problems with the charcoal smearing. At this point, it hadn’t yet occurred to me that I should reread the directions and use the appropriate materials.
With the rain threatening to fall, I went home slightly defeated. I opened up the book again and finally took another look at the directions. It was then that I realized my need for graphite sticks (and the importance of following instructions). The next day I acquired some graphite sticks and was ready to face the project again. This day I took a new approach. I started doing rubbings of objects in my home, and I landed on the jackpot: my bookshelf. Who knew embossed books made the best rubbings?
Here are some close-ups of the embossed sections that I used:
Following the collage instructions in the book, I began making my masterpieces *ahem* by combining the different textures. Here’s what I came up with:
It was actually a lot of fun. I felt like I was redesigning book covers. When I finally settled on one that I liked, I framed it and put it on the wall with some other photos.
Although you have to be close to appreciate the design, I like the simplistic pattern I landed on. I did deviate from the book a bit, but I love the idea of shining a light on the ornamental details of book-binding that often get lost in the bookshelves. Was this the best project that I’ve ever done? Probably not. But will I enjoy this hanging on my wall for a few months? Most definitely.
Overall, I think this book has a lot to offer, especially if you read the directions. If you’re interested in making a DIY project that’s more than a disposable paper flower, I’d encourage you to check out this book.
Four out of five stars.