SMP Craft
1 Nov

Freebie Friday: Cozy Crocheted Slipper Boots

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the holidays just beyond that, and winter starting to creep around the edges of Fall, I’m feeling the need to find ways to get cozy and hunker down for winter.  Some of my favorite winter treats to indulge in are: hot chocolate, sleeping under a down comforter, sticking oranges full of cloves… and pulling my cozier pair of slippers out of the closet.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve decided that my next crochet project will be a pair of cozy slipper boots.  I found a great pattern in one of the books on my bookshelf at work and I can’t wait to give it a try.  Anyone want to try it along with me?  🙂  If you do click below to download the project for free… and stop back here afterwards and post pictures!  I’ll do the same…

Crochet Free Project Download – Cozy Slipper Boots


If you feel particularly inspired, check out the full book – it’s got several great projects like this one!

simple crocheting

Powell’s Books


Barnes & Noble



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31 Oct

Halloween Crafts: Lollipop Graveyard and Zombie Cupcakes


Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays and, more importantly, it’s one that truly lends itself to craftiness.  From crazy costumes, to face painting, to Halloween treatS, it’s hard not to be inspired to make something to mark the day.

This year, I’ve been inspired by crafty ways to share the TREATS part of “trick or treat!”… Here are a few fun ideas that have caught my eye.  I’d love to hear if any of you have tried either of these ideas – or see what what projects are YOUR favorite Halloween crafts!  Please post in our comment section…

Lollipop Graveyard – click here for a fantastic, step-by-step set of direction for creating a mini-graveyard to share this year’s office or Halloween party snacks…

lollipop graveyard

Zombie Cupcakes – click here for both a delicious cupcake recipe, and an ingenious way to make little zombie arms…

zombie cupcakes

30 Oct

Author of the Month Q&A with Jay Sacher

Once in a while we come across a book so simple and extraordinary that we can’t believe we survived without it.  HOW TO HANG A PICTURE: And Other Essential Lessons for a Stylish Home by Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa is definitely one of those books. As such, we couldn’t resist sitting down with Jay Sacher to find out what inspired him…


How to Hang a Picture


Barnes & Noble



Q&A with Jay Sacher, author of HOW TO HANG A PICTURE

SMPCraft: I’m always curious when I come across an author duo – so tell us, how did you meet & why did you decide to write this book together?
Jay Sacher: For many years, Suzanne and I both worked at a publishing house in San Francisco. I was an editor and Suzanne was a designer, but we rarely if ever worked together professionally. We became friends over our love of art—making it, discussing it, seeing it. We both lived in Maine for two years, where the idea for How to Hang a Picture came up over a dinner conversation. Hanging art well is one of those things that’s a perennial issue for people, and it comes to the forefront whenever you move into a new place. It’s not rocket science, but it’s easy to overlook or misunderstand. Exploring this topic just felt like a great intersection of both things we love and questions we wanted answered.

how to hang 2

SMPC: People are definitely going to ask – can you really write a whole book about HOW TO HANG A PICTURE?  (i.e. Give us some insight about the surprisingly wide range of cool things you cover in the book.)
JS: We’ve always looked at hanging art well as a hallmark of personal style; it’s one of those little things that can make a big difference. What we found as we researched the book, talking to curators, gallerists, artists, home-décor experts, and just folks with cool style is that while there is no single “right” way to hang a picture, there are plenty of wrong ways—it’s one of the reasons we’re all so intimidated by the process, or why we tend to put it off to the last possible moment. Everybody has that pile of art sitting under their bed or in the closet, waiting to be framed and hung. We wanted to write a book that would provide some simple guidelines to follow so that you can develop your own style without ruining your wall or your art in the process.

We cover the basics of both aesthetics and mechanics—how do you determine the best height for hanging your art? What if you want to create a salon or gallery-style wall? How do you integrate your art with the furniture and lighting of a room, how do you work with color? What if you need to hang art on a pre-war plaster wall, or brick or cinderblock, how do you use picture-rail hangers? What’s the best way to tie picture hanging wire or fishing line? What if you want to hang something really heavy? How much should you worry about museum quality or archival frames and materials? And should you want to frame art yourself, we show you the cheapest solution that doesn’t sacrifice from the overall aesthetics of your art, a DIY-light approach of store-bought and custom-cut materials.

Along the way, we asked our artist and designer friends, and other people whose homes we admired, to send us photos of their spaces with art hung with style and verve. I used those to paint the watercolors, showcasing the various lessons in the book or simply to act as inspiration for your own style.

SMPC: Have either of you been published before?
JS: Suzanne has designed numerous books, and I’ve written a few pop culture/history/what-have you books, including most recently,  A Compendium of Collective Nouns (Chronicle Books & Woop Studios) which came out this past September, and a book on the history of the Lincoln Memorial, which publishes in 2014.

SMPC: Other than being authors and art-hangers, do you have day jobs & what are they?
JS: Along with her book design work, Suzanne is an art director at an advertising agency, and I’m an editor at the visual culture publisher, Princeton Architectural Press. I live in Brooklyn, New York and Suzanne lives in Portland, Maine.

SMPC: What in each of your backgrounds led you to knowing about and having a propensity towards the topics covered in the book?
JS: It comes down to a love of art. I’ve got the messy, haphazard artist’s approach, and Suzanne has an art director’s eye and love of precise detail—of things placed just so. Our tastes and skills meet on the common ground of both loving the emotional and aesthetic power of art. In the end, we both want the art on our walls to look good and do its job. This book was all about the two of us discovering the best, cheapest, and simplest ways to do so.

SMPC: If someone is moving into a new apt & has a variety of art to hang – what are the five tools that they should have in their toolbox?
JS: Measuring tape, sturdy fishing wire (much easier to use than the metal picture wire stuff they use on the back of frames), a whole boatload of various “museum-grade” picture frame hangers, clean hands, and somebody to stand behind them and tell them it looks like hell.

SMPC: Have you ever had any “art-hanging” disasters?
JS: Almost everything I do is a disaster at first go, but trial and error is the key. The biggest lesson I took away from this book is it’s essential to plan things out when hanging art. For instance, if you’re cleaning your glazing (the glass of your frame) just before you hang your piece, you might be tempted to dry it with a paper towel rather than be patient and let it air dry. But that will cause static electricity buildup and probably leave you with an overlooked piece of lint stuck to the inside of your glazing in the worst possible place.

Don’t eyeball anything. Don’t assume you know what’s behind your wall. Measure twice and cut once and all those Boy Scout clichés are the TRUTH.

SMPC: What is the most ambitious art-hanging project you’ve ever taken on or helped someone else with?
JS: I’m most proud of our work on the centerpiece salon-style wall in Suzanne’s home. Suzanne had a vision to use some reclaimed wood beams from a 19th century church to build a series of low slung shelves for her art and design books, with a salon-style wall showcasing some of her favorite art above it. We did it in the dead of winter, sanding the soggy muddy beams in the freezing cold on the roof, and planning out a wall of staggered art that stretches across about fifteen feet. An illustration of a portion of the wall is in our book.

SMPC: Do you have a favorite wall of hung art?
JS: Looking at the art in New York’s Frick Museum always makes me think of my dad as an art student at Queens College forty-five years ago, and the crazy floor-to-ceiling arrangements in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston are the best example of personal vision trumping any sort of art-hanging “rule” you’ll ever find.

SMPC: The pictures in the book are so great!  Who did those and are they based on real walls or are they made up?
JS: I based most of the watercolors on real life spaces from friends whose walls we loved and tastemakers we reached out to, the real spaces are all credited in the book. Others are amalgams of things we’ve seen or that speak to lessons we wanted to convey, but the majority are based on real spaces. Some of the rad folks who let us paint their homes include people like Christine Schmidt from Yellow Owl Workshop, the textile designer Lena Corwin, the artist Mike Perry, the design studio Wary Meyers, and Lisa Wong Jackson from Good on Paper.

how to hang 1

26 Oct

SMP Craft Spotlight on… Anna Gorovoy and her Giant Crochet Reef!

We LOVE long-term, large-scale craft projects and so when we found out that Anna Gorovoy – a designer here at St. Martin’s Press – has spent approximately the last two years creating an ever-larger crocheted coral reef for a friend’s apartment in Philadelphia, we were more than impressed.  Read on to hear more about her project – and please tell us if you or any of your friends have ever done anything similar!

Interview with Crochet Ninja Anna Gorovoy

anna crocheting a reef


SMP Craft: Where did you get the idea for this project?  And what made you decide to do it yourself?
Anna: It was kind of random. In February 2011, friend of mine in Philadelphia, Kate Poole, had just moved into a new house and I was planning to go up for the weekend and help her set up her new room. The Friday before, she sent me a link to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project by the Institute For Figuring and suggested, as a joke, that I crochet a reef for her room that weekend. And I thought, why not? So I’ve been working on this reef for about two and a half years now. It lives at Kate’s house in Philadelphia. Whenever I see her, I give her the corals that I’ve created since the last time we met up, and she adds them to the reef.

reef long shot

SMPC: Do you have a favorite type of hook or yarn for this project?
A: I want to have many different and diverse corals in my reef, so I end up using a variety of hook sizes and kinds of yarn. Basically, when you use a smaller crochet hook with yarn that is light in weight you end up with very fine, detailed work (think lace) that takes a long time to make. Larger hooks with heavier weight yarn help a project to work up quickly but it’s not so detailed, like a painting with thick brush strokes. If you use a heavier yarn with a smaller hook, the mismatch leads to to a piece that’s really tight and dense. So I play around with different hooks and yarns for different effects.

reef close up

I tend to use not-as-nice yarn from my stash—I’m not going to use really expensive yarn that you would save for a scarf or sweater that feels really good against your skin.  Knitters and crocheters, you know what I’m talking about, that yarn you just need to find a way to use up. . . . So the reef project helps me use up yarn that’s come into my possession that I might not know what to do with otherwise. Sometimes people give me yarn that they don’t want just for me to use for the reef and I work it in. In my brain corals, for example, you can’t even see the first several rounds because they are totally covered up by the last several rounds.

reef super close up

SMPC: How long have you been crocheting & who taught you?
A: Oh, that was random, too! Or maybe serendipitous. When I was an intern in MoMA’s Publications Department back in the fall and winter of 2009, there was an editor, Rebecca Roberts, who was an avid crocheter. A fellow intern in the department got very interested in her work and asked her to teach us, and RR agreed to do so. One day, she brought in hooks and yarn and a little teaching agenda and invited us to sit down and learn over lunchtime. I was only vaguely interested, but I came along for company. Ironically, my friend who really wanted to learn to crochet was just not really getting it, but after I tried the chain stitch and single and double crochet I was off and running. It just felt right in my hands. At that time in my life, I wasn’t making the art I’d been making in the past (painting, drawing, photography) and having kind of an identity crisis over it, but it felt right to have this new and different thing in a medium I’d never worked in before. That night on my way home, I popped into a yarn shop and bought myself a little set of hooks and few skeins of yarn and got going with my first scarf. Over the rest of my internship, I would bring my projects in to show RR and she would give me feedback, lend me crochet books, etc. She said I was a natural and I really took to it, literally from that day onwards. So it’s been four years since then that I’ve been crocheting.

SMPC: Do you do other types of crafts as well or are you a crochet-er through and through?
A: Oh, I do a lot! Sewing at a beginner level, I’m learning to knit, I do pickling and canning and jamming, all of that crafts around the house kinds of stuff. I’m just really a hand-skills person. I’ll craft whatever needs crafting.

SMPC: Is this your favorite project of all time and, if not, what is?
A: Well, this is probably my most epic project to date. Besides the reef, I have made a lot of hats and scarves (some on the weird side—I have a handmade cupcake hat and one time someone commissioned me to crochet him a scarf that was basically a giant/extremely long black and gray tube sock), little blankets, wrist warmers, and the like. The reef is really the only one so far that’s more like an art piece. But I also have a little all-white freeform piece I really like that I’ve been working on on and off. I started it in a freeform crochet class that I took at the Brooklyn Brainery with Barbara Van Elsen (a funny coincidence—she was the organizer of the NY Reef of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef) and I think that will be a little gem once I finish it.

SMPC: Do you have a favorite crocheting tip or trick?
A: I’m not sure if this is a tip or trick, but I feel like as soon as you understand how to chain stitch and single (and maybe double) crotchet you’ve got it. It’s all based on that, so you can basically figure out how to do anything. And if you’re not sure how to do a certain stitch that you are reading in a pattern, there’s probably a video tutorial up on Youtube.

SMPC: Do you have a favorite place or time to crochet?
A: Not really, I’ll pretty much do it anywhere. On the couch in front of the TV, in the subway, at someone’s house, in the movies while waiting for previews to start, on a plane (crochet hooks are allowed on flights!), wherever I can make use of some dead time.

SMPC: Do you ever crochet with other people? 
A: Sure! I’m part of a knit/crochet club that meets Monday after work. And I will also bring out my crochet for a craft session when others are working on whatever their craft is.

SMPC: When you’re not moonlighting as a crafter, what do you do?
A: At work I design books. At home I also like to cook and garden (now I sound like a little housewife), love on my cats (and like a publishing cliché), read, travel, get out and enjoy the city, etc. Eat delicious food. Sometimes I am involved with cat rescue.

SMPC: What’s the one question I didn’t think to ask that you’d like to answer here?
A: I guess that question could be: how much longer will I be working on this reef? People ask me all the time and I’m really not sure—I just love the idea of it continuing to grow (like a living thing!). And I’ve got more yarn I can use up on it. I’m also thinking about whether to add anything more besides the purely hyperbolic corals. I have the St. Martin’s Griffin book 75 Seashells, Fish, Coral & colorful marine life to knit & crochet and have been considering whether to add something from those patterns, or keep it hyperbolic. I don’t want it to end up looking cutesy if I bring in additions from patterns like that. Maybe it would be best to keep it hyperbolic.










25 Oct

FREEBIE FRIDAY: “How to Hang a Picture” by Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa

Like tying a Windsor knot or brewing a perfect cup of coffee, knowing how to hang art on your wall is a hallmark of everyday style and nuts-and-bolts know-how. The where, what, and whys of hanging art are an overlooked, under-appreciated line of inquiry. Most of us simply wing it with a quick eyeball and a swing of the hammer. How hard can it be? we think. What can go wrong?

How to Hang a Picture: And Other Essential Lessons for a Stylish Home is a user-friendly guidebook that details everything you need to know about hanging, framing, decorating and displaying art. If Strunk & White’s Elements of Style was crossed with a no-nonsense how-to manual, you will have captured the tone and immediacy of How to Hang a Picture: simple rules and essential information presented with charm and intelligence.

And best of all, we’re so excited about this book, we’re giving away five copies over on Goodreads

How to Hang a Picture

Ever for your chance to win, or simply pre-order your own copy at your favorite retailer below:

Barnes & Noble

CAUGHT CRAFTING: SMPCraft’s Spotlight on NYC Crafting

SMPCRAFT #CAUGHTCRAFTING Thursday morning, Astoria, Queens. Accessorizing with a lovely temporary floral tattoo she learned to make from DIY Temporary Tattoos: Draw It, Print It, Ink It by Pepper Baldwin!



Father's Day is less than three weeks away -- Sunday, June 19th in the U.S. -- just enough time to start prepping for what would make dear old pops feel loved....What dad, what MAN, wouldn't want to get a bright red tool box full of homemade BBQ, bacon, and chili flavored chocolate? Or a handmade Paracord hammock? Does he play golf?--hand dipped tees? Does he like to hike? Enjoy nature and the great outdoors? How about homemade beef jerky? Or does he enjoy watching sports--Remote Control Cookie? What about beer? One of the coolest new items coming out of Japan is a Frozen Beer Slushy Maker by Kirin Ichiban that perfectly pairs with the DIY black and tan soap! Scroll and click for more homemade DIY Father's Day gift ideas sure to make pappy happy! Hashtag #SMPCRAFT #DIYFATHERSDAY!

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