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Get your art fix at a book store

I usually drop into Ashland galleries to get an art fix, but a recent visit to Bloomsbury Books reminded me that bookstores can provide a dose of creative inspiration as well.

Bloomsbury, located downtown at 290 E. Main St., has a corner full of art-related books, from practical, how-to manuals to books that celebrate the quirky and unusual. If 2012 has you looking for fresh projects, you might try some of these selections.

  • "PUSH Stitchery: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art," edited by Jamie Chalmers. Forget about sweet, embroidered flowers on pillow cases. Embroidery goes avant-garde in this collection, with photo-realist embroidered portraits, architectural drawings stitched in black thread and quirky art — such as a girl and a piranha in a fish bowl.
  • "The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide," by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor. Whether or not you have a tattoo or ever plan to get one, you'll enjoy these creative tattoos.

There are inked lines from T.S. Eliot's iconic poem "The Waste Land," illustrations from Shel Silverstein's beloved children's classic "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and a massive tattoo that shows Jack Kerouac sitting at his typewriter with the closing lines from "On the Road."

"Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques and Truly Original Projects," by Christine Schmidt. OK, so you don't have a studio full of printing equipment. Schmidt shows how you can carve an image into a potato and then use this humble vegetable to create prints. Or, use a safety pin to prick words and images into blank cards.

She also covers more advanced printing techniques, such as printing with hand-carved linoleum blocks. But you can still do these projects at home if you pick up the necessary supplies.

  • "Comic Book Design: The Essential Guide to Creating Great Comics and Graphic Novels," by Gary Spencer Millidge. Take your sketches to the next level with advice on characters, panel design, lettering, balloons and color design. This book is interspersed with short features on people in the comic and graphic novel industries.
  • "Knit Your Own Dog: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches" by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. If you want a dog but don't want to buy dog food, walk your pet or pick up poop, this book shows you how to knit a range of pooches, including Jack Russell terriers, Afghan hounds, dachshunds and basset hounds. You can search by breed, or look at the various classifications, such as hounds, terriers, sporting dogs and working dogs. It's like being at a dog show, without the barking.
  • "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People," by Amy Sedaris, is for people who love crafts. It's also for people who hate crafts.

If your plan is to make and sell crafts, Sedaris advises you to create chicks and bunnies. That's because they're small and people will feel a satisfying sense of power over them, they're soft and they have eyes. Humans are drawn to eyes; no one has ever loved a rock, a log or a stop sign, Sedaris points out.

Even though most crafts are useless, Sedaris urges us not to suppress the urge to make things. She'll show you how to create suitably useless things such as painted rocks, a wreath of acorns and a wishbone slingshot decorated with yarn. Even if you don't make a single thing, you'll still have fun with this book.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous is busy knitting a St. Bernard with four eyes so it will sell twice as fast.