Book #4 Concrete Design by Sarah Gaventa

I was looking for other books about Concrete Crafting and this 2006 book “Concrete Design; the extraordinary nature of concrete” by Sarah Gaventa was suggested. It was in Reading Central Library and so I went and perused it there.

In the introduction the book traces the history of concrete crediting the development to the Romans, while indicating others had developed similar substances. the introduction also looks at iconic concrete builds ranging from Rome’s Parthenon to London Zoo’s Penguin Pool.

The body of the book looks at the work of leading designers and architects in the domestic context. Many of the examples are large, such as spiral staircases, walls, floors and concrete furniture. But there are also smaller examples, such as Kelvin Birk’s concrete bowls with silver liner and Kathy Dalwood’s planters. For me the most memorable picture is Ron Arad’s Concrete Record Deck, I have found a link to his complete stereo on the V&A site, if you want to see what I am talking about!

Before reading this book the only architect I could name who worked with concrete was Cesar Manrique, and that was because I have visited Lanzarote where he was very influential. I felt it a shame he was missed from the book, but then maybe his sphere of influence was limited.

If you are interested in concrete and design this is an excellent book to look through. If you are looking for it in Reading Central Library it is on the first floor under Architecture, not the second floor under Fine Art as the catalogue suggests.

Book #19: Making Concrete Pots, Bowls and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

I read this book while my daughter-in-law had it on loan from our local library.

It is a beautiful book, with suggestions for making: pots, bowls and platters that are right on trend. Any crafter would be pleased to receive it as a gift, for all the clever suggestions as to what can be made with concrete.

However I would not recommend it to someone who was a beginner, it does not contain very much about making concrete. There are lots of ways of making concrete, and it is certainly possible to experiment but as a beginner I would rather have guidance than lumps of unusable concrete, that my local authority will charge me to dispose of. This book is rather like a cook book showing fantastic decorated cakes and saying you can make all these cakes with ready mix or use basic ingredients available such as flour, butter, eggs etc, and then giving lots of details about baking tins and icing.

This is the third book about concrete I have read, this is most like Concrete Crafts by Sania Hedengren and Susanna Zacke with some 30 fun objects that can be made by crafters at home. I think both books have authors who have experiences of lots of crafts, and were commissioned to write a book about making concrete objects, and then made each of the objects in the respective books. While Concrete Crafts by Alan Wycheck is written by someone who knows a lot about concrete and the different ways in which the ingredients can be combined to suit specific projects.

Book #16 Concrete Crafts by Sania Hedengren and Susanna Zacke

The book is sub-titled: Simple Projects from Jewellery to Place Settings, Bird Baths to Umbrella Stands, and I borrowed it from my daughter-in-law. The authors are Swedish and have published a number of craft books using different media including upcylced objects, yarn and concrete. The blurb on the dustcover of this book says their books are translated into seven languages worldwide. Their Swedish roots don’t particularly impact on the book, readers cannot mind the fact the “Hello” sign is in Swedish, the only problem I saw was they suggested using a “big sour cream container”, here sour cream is not used very much and only comes in one size.

The book has some 30 different projects, some are quite quirky, such as a bookend in the shape of a bottle. The photographs of the objects they have made are beautiful, and inspirational. The problem with the book is the instructions lack details and I suspect it would be easy to make mistakes while following them.

This is the second book I have read called “Concrete Crafts”  the other was by Alan Wycheck ,they are very different book Wycheck’s has lots of details about concrete and lots of step-by-step instructions, while this one doesn’t. But this book has lots of suggestions for fun projects. I suspect neither book is really suited as a guide for a beginner who wants to start making small concrete objects, but both would be useful to someone who had a bit of experience.

Book #15 Concrete Crafts by Alan Wycheck

I borrowed this book from one of my daughter-in-laws. the subtitle is “Making Modern Accessories for the Home and Garden”.

Glancing through it I thought it not very suitable as it was very US oriented. The measurements were all imperial, the products used were available in the US, and even the language was American (e.g. mixture was to be made to look like “sticky oatmeal” – I assume that is porridge!). The projects also seemed to be large, the first project was to make paving slabs (what the author calls “pavers”).

But when I read the book I found I liked the step by step guides, each was accompanied by lots of  helpful pictures. The choice of the projects (particularly the early ones) didn’t inspire me to try making any of these artefacts, but I know a lot more now about concrete making then I did!