Friday, November 03, 2006

Review: Creative TECHniques Magazine

Creative TECHniques is a new magazine for the techy crafter. I bought the Fall, 2006 edition--the magazine's second--while rushing through WalMart on the way out of town. What grabbed me was, of course, the visually delightful cover image. I might not wear these shoes, but they'd make a lovely objet d'art (or do you say tchotzke?) to display on top of my TV--the only level surface in our house the cats leave untouched.

Creative TECHniques focuses on crafts that use computer-based text and graphics for embellishment--but it goes far beyond scrapbooking and card making. Projects in this issue include a wood-burned tray, a diaper bag, a fabric vase, and many more in addition to the shoe featured on the cover.

The magazine is organized under the headings "Make Stuff," "Learn Stuff," and "Every-Issue Stuff." The craft projects fall under "Make Stuff;" they are abundant in number, and have a hip, funky style I find appealing.

"Learn Stuff" includes, in this edition, topics ranging from copyright issues to the ins and outs of image resolution to the use of fonts in design. I found them to be, on the whole, relevant, useful and well-written. I did 'learn stuff' about each of these topics, despite more than superficial prior knowledge of each of them.

"Every-Issue Stuff" is a grab-bag containing a letter from the editor, product and book reviews, and a "tech support" section providing a mini-glossary of technical terms. In this issue, the terms unsharp mask, CMYK, and Bluetooth were among those defined.

While I enjoyed the magazine overall, it does run the risk of visual stimulus overload. As a lover of fonts, I enjoyed the "typeface galore" design of the magazine, but some might find it a bit much: each article sports its own title font, and the choices are anything but conservative. And while some spreads were crisply, beautifully designed (this scanned image fails to do justice),

others were rather jarring.

My final concern is with the "materials needed" section of the projects. For some, the materials were far too brand-specific. For example, one calls for the use of "Prism Prismatics Intense Orange cardstock," where "orange cardstock" would suffice. In others, a little specificity would be welcome: when one must start with a "6 1/2 inch tall paper-mache torso," one wishes to know where one can be obtained.

Would I buy this magazine again? Well, let me say this: while I love crafts, I'm a total clutz, and should probably stick to beadwork, which is far more forgiving. But I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone whose skills would do these projects justice.

They deserve it.



Natalie Rhinesmith said...

I'm the editor of Creative TECHniques and I want to say "Thank you" for the review! I've taken everything you mentioned under consideration and will definitely use it when it comes time to lay out the next issue. Don't know if you've seen it or not, but our Winter 2007 issue hit the newsstands on 11/2/06. It's well received so far, but if you do pick it up, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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