February 25, 2010


Glossy Bands. By the editors of Klutz. Klutz. $19.95.

Fingerprint Fabulous. By the editors of Klutz. Klutz. $14.95.

     Crafts books are a Klutz specialty – you could call them Klutz Krafts for their distinctive appearance: spiral bound, lighthearted, packaged with the materials needed to do the projects, and filled with photos of smiling kids wearing or playing with what they have made. The primary target audience for Klutz Krafts books is tween and preteen girls, and these two new volumes fit right into the pattern: Glossy Bands is aimed at ages eight and up, Fingerprint Fabulous at ages six and up. Glossy Bands shows how to make bracelets from a bottle – but, of course, not just any bottle. There are four bracelet-making bottles included with the book, containing enough special gel to make 14 bracelets, according to Klutz. But you can’t actually be a small-k klutz when doing these projects if you want to get to 14. The bracelets all start with a row of dots. Klutz provides the rows in the book – and includes transparent plastic rectangles called design strips to place on top of the rows. Then you squeeze little bits of colored gel onto a design strip to match the size of the dots. Little bits. The gel spreads after it is squeezed, so it is very easy to make the dots too big. Nothing wrong with that, but you won’t get 14 bracelets that way. In any case, bracelets can be made simply from a row of dots, or they can be swirled with the included swirling stick (which is more or less just a blunt toothpick), or they can be wavy or zig-zag, and the dots themselves can be anything from a single solid color to multiple colors in a flower shape (not easy – but the flower instructions appear late in the book, by which time kids will hopefully be adept at the craft). One ingredient not included with Glossy Bands, but absolutely essential for making them, is patience. Rushing will not work – the bands just won’t look good – and when finished, the bands cannot be worn for 24 hours (give them 30 hours to be on the safe side). Kids who get the hang of making these bands will really enjoy doing so: the four colors (pink, green, purple and blue) are attractive, the bands are comfortable, and it’s just plain neat to wear something you have made yourself from start to finish. And if you use up too much of the gel to get 14 bands out of the amount included, you can always 1) make shorter bands and wear them as rings instead of bracelets; and 2) order more gel from www.klutz.com.

     Kids already have the main ingredient they need for Fingerprint Fabulous. This is a crafts book of thumbprint art – fingers not included. What is included is ink for making prints, glitter glue for drawing lines, sequins to brighten things up, and a marking pen to connect the fingerprints and turn them into little cartoony pictures. Klutz starts with the basics here, showing how to make three different sorts of fingerprints (whole, edge and smudge) and providing a blank space so kids can experiment with fingerprint-making before trying out any of the suggested shapes. Then it’s time to make amusing-looking, smiling bugs (the dragonfly wearing glasses is a hoot), sweets, puppies and kittens, sea creatures and many more adorable things. The key to all this, as kids will quickly realize, is that fingerprints alone are not enough to make the creatures and characters. The sequins help dress things up and make them sparkly, but it is the marking pen that is really crucial here – just a few lines drawn between, among, around and through the fingerprints turn them into objects as diverse as a party dress, a singing trio (with bouncer), a dragon and a cheerleading squad. A page of fingerprint hairdos is especially enjoyable for kids who like to do a little more drawing. And just when you think Klutz has done as much as possible with this particular craft, two pages of tear-out cards appear (two cards per page) so kids can share their fingerprint art with each other – or maybe even send it by snail mail to friends or relatives. Fingerprint Fabulous is fun, not too challenging, and a nice way to relax and indulge some creativity – a good cure for that “there’s nothing to do” boredom to which kids are notoriously susceptible. (Aside to adults: you’ll enjoy it, too!)

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