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Blog Posts by Subject: Decorative Arts

Valentine's Day Wishes from Helen Adams Masten

The Rare Book Division's collection of historic valentines has provided heaps of inspiration this month---in Martha Stewart Living's February issue, on the Martha Stewart Show, and at the latest Handmade Crafternoon event at which staff from Martha Stewart Living were our special guests and donated amazing supplies (you'll find a wrap-up of this event as well as a great gallery of images

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Vintage-Inspired Valentines with Martha Stewart Living: Feb. 5, 2011's Handmade Crafternoon!

Maura and I are both flabbergasted and honored that our Library event series, Handmade Crafternoons, has been featured in Martha Stewart Living's February issue. If you've been to any events in the series in the past you'll hopefully agree with this article, which is a love letter to libraries, creativity, and community (even though Maura and I don't actually serve pizza sandwiches at our events; sorry!)

We're simply thrilled to 

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The Perfect Time for Knitting

With one of the coldest winters in recent memory upon us what better time to learn the art of knitting? I joined some of the ladies of the Ottendorfer Branch knitting circle on one blustery cold Saturday afternoon to chat.

Who here has been knitting the longest?

Louise: I have. I started when I was eight.

Have you ever taught others to knit? You seem to help out the group a lot.

Louise: I tried teaching my kids but it didn’t take. Now I have more patience.

Mary this is the first time 

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Spencer Collection Book of the Month: Correspondence of St. Jerome

When I started blogging last May, I hoped to post frequently, but my "day job" of cataloging the books I'd like to write about kept getting in the way. This year, I made a New Year's resolution to blog more regularly. To get started, I thought I would pick a "Spencer Collection Book of the Month" at the beginning of each month and write a short post about it—just enough to share with my readers some of the things that make it special, because the

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Wintry Crafts and Books

At November 20th's Handmade Crafternoon, guest Jodi Kahn (author of, most recently Simply Sublime Gifts) provided some great inspiration on how to transform vintage images from the Library’s Digital Gallery into handsewn ornaments, card holders, sachets, and more.  Big thanks from Maura and me go out: to Jodi for her guidance; to local independent bookshop Word for selling both Jodi’s new book and

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Simply Sublime Winter Sewing!

Tomorrow afternoon, November 20th, is our next Handmade Crafternoon, and we'll be thinking winter—snow, skates, holiday cheer—as we stitch up some little ornaments or other gifts using fabric with images from the Library's collection of wintry scenes and greeting cards. 

My cohost (and Crafternoon author) Maura Madden and I are excited to welcome special guest Jodi Kahn, author of

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Languages of God: The Word as Decoration

The First Polyglot Psalter, Psalter, in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic; Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516The New York Public Library, Rare Book DivisionJews and Muslims have a particular attachment to languages as expressions of the Word of God. Hebrew and Arabic are both sacred languages since both are in a sense the language of God Himself.

But there is an important difference. The Jews lost their Hebrew as a living language while the Bible was 

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Heist Society: A Review

Katarina Bishop grew up all over Europe, but she isn’t an heiress. She has a Faberge egg, but she isn’t a Romanov. Kat is used to looking at a room and seeing all the angles, but that was before she stole a whole other life at the Colgan School only to walk away from it months later without a trace.

That was before everything went sideways.

While Kat was busy trying to steal a new, legit, life the family business prospered. When a powerful mobster’s priceless art collection goes missing it isn’t all that surprising that 

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Knitting and Crochet on a Budget

Some people may be turned off from knitting because it can be an expensive craft.  Knitting a sweater these days is more expensive than just going to the store and buying one, unfortunately.  Don't think you need fancy hand-spun yarns, pricey patterns and knitting lessons, though.  Here are a couple ways to enjoy the craft and save some money too! 

For those looking to pick up knitting or crochet, there are many free ways to learn. First, and YouTube 

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A Natalie Chanin-Inspired Booklist.

If you were one of the seventy lovely people who attended our last Handmade Crafternoon (in May—eegads, so long ago!), then you know already what a wonderful time it was.  Natalie Chanin encouraged us all to take up needle and thread and make sustainable fashions entirely by hand from the humblest scraps of soft cotton jersey.  She filled the afternoon with stories, practical advice, and enthusiasm, and Maura and I couldn't have imagined a better way to wind up our spring series.  And of 

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Earth-Friendly Crafting, Then and Now.

If you like to make stuff, chances are that when Earth Day arrives each year "green" handicrafts come to mind.  Perhaps you make new items from materials that others would consider wornout or trash; or maybe you seek out all-natural materials for your crafts.  If crafting of this kind  interests you, you might want to look back in time at how crafters from decades past approached "green" crafting. 

Here are some vintage books from the Library worth browsing both for entertainment and information:

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Share the Fun at April 17th's Handmade Crafternoon

Get ready, because you are the star at this Saturday's Handmade Crafternoon!  We invite you, our attendees, to bring your own craft projects to work on in the company of friends.

Maura Madden, my favorite expert at creating crafty social gatherings, will lead the afternoon and will share some of her favorite projects and craft books. Don't want to BYOC (that is, bring your own craft)?  Between crafty things? No worries—we'll have craft 

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Art in the Stacks: Part One

Collis P Huntington mansion, interior, Central Hall with painted lunette murals by H. Siddons Mowbray, c. 1894. Altered photograph courtesy Yale University Art Gallery.Those who use the resources of the Art & Architecture Collection come in splendid variety: old and young, sophisticated and naive, happily curious and relentlessly searching. We love it, for where else could you be asked "just what is that building in back of that Madonna" followed by a search for more of Grandmama's old Limoge 

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Inspiring Books, a Little Bit of Sewing, and an Unforgettable Skirt!

Last Saturday's Handmade Crafternoon was full of fun and creative comradery, thanks to all of you who joined us and thanks also to our talented and friendly Modern Women of Sewing who shared their thoughts about what inspires them and how they turn what they find at the Library into stunning designs, patterns, illustrations, and more.

A few highlights for me were learning about how artists from Louise 

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Thanks, Mike Perry!

This past Saturday’s Handmade Crafternoon was the best sort of frolicsome fun, thanks both to our special guest artist Mike Perry and also to all of you who came out and went creative-crazy with the paper, scissors, and glue.

Mike Perry got the whole gang drawing and talking together within seconds of starting the afternoon with a series of timed, collaborative drawings. And the results? Impulsive and brilliant. And it wasn’t just drawings—some there 

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A Big Yarn Weekend in New York City

This weekend is a big one for yarn lovers, knitters, and crocheters—there’s both a Handmade Crafternoon devoted to knitting and crochet, and there’s also a weekend-long Yarn Crawl that’ll take you all over the city! Here are the details on both events:

About the next Handmade Crafternoon: Date and time: Saturday, October 10th, from 2:00 to 4:00pm Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue Margaret Liebman Berger Forum (Room #227, located in the 

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Fall Do It Yourself Series at Mulberry

Mulberry Street's Do It Yourself Series continues on October 19th at 6:30 p.m. We'll be constructing a paper magic folding box that is sure to please!

As some of you remember, this year's summer reading theme was "Be Creative!" Here at the Mulberry Street Branch, we participated by starting a summer Do It Yourself Series for adults. The program was held once a month and met with very enthusiastic participants. Mulberry's creative staff members transformed and revamped ordinary items into awesome 

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December 12th's Handmade: Crafternoon.

Interested in quilts, handmade clothes, and what goes into the work of fabric and pattern design? Then mark your calendars to come to December’s Handmade: Crafternoon and meet some modern women of craft who work wonders with textiles.

Heather Ross, author of Weekend Sewing; Denyse Schmidt, author of Denyse Schmidt Quilts; and 

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November 14th's Handmade: Crafternoon.

November’s Handmade: Crafternoon will be all about paper and books! And really, is there anything better?

If you’d like to try your hand at some basic book making (both sewn bindings and not), origami, or other paper-based creations, please come along! Our special guest will be artist and maker Mike Perry, who will share his creative expertise on this fun afternoon. We’ll have lots of supplies on hand to share so that you can make your own handmade book!

Here are the details: Date and time: Saturday, November 14th, 

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October 10th’s Handmade: Crafternoon.

Maura and I hope that you had as much fun as we did at our inaugural Handmade: Crafternoon last weekend! If you would like another chance to meet fellow crafty library-goers, see books and magazines from the Library’s collection, and try out new creative skills, please join us for our next Handmade: Crafternoon in October.

On Saturday, October 10th, Sabrina Gschwandtner, author of KnitKnit, and

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