Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ReadyMade: How To Make {Almost} Everything by Shoshana Berger, Kate Francis (Illustrator), Jeffery Cross (Photographer), and Grace Hawthorne

ReadyMade: How To Make {Almost} Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer
by Shoshana Berger, Kate Francis (Illustrator), Jeffery Cross (Photographer), and Grace Hawthorne

ReadyMade is one of those magazines I periodically buy, thinking that if I'm ever overcome with a fit of craftiness, it would help inspire my poor wallet and me to make something interesting out of stuff I already have, or can obtain on the cheap. Some of their projects veer a bit towards the "I'm bored and like making things, soo... behold! This strange and only semi-useful thing!", but others really are small strokes of "Aha! What an idea!" Unfortunately, this book version of ReadyMade is more like the former. Apart from a couple of projects featured in the book, most of the stuff is not only kind of stupid, but also rather ugly.

What I like about the magazine and its website are the ideas for reusing fabric, decorating ideas that look more spendy than they are, and interesting food/party ideas. The book has no food or party projects, but it does have just a couple of ideas in the fabric/decorating categories that I liked: a doormat made out of doll-head clothespins and a dog bed made out of old jeans. The dog looks so happy!

I'd link to either of these projects, but the website doesn't have them. In fact, I have the suspicion that ReadyMade is a bit embarrassed by their book because it is nowhere to be found on their site. Published in 2006, perhaps they've heard enough flack in the past 5 years to know they really squandered an opportunity. (A lamp cozy? Really?)

Flat-out irresponsible was how they detailed the way in which they first financed the magazine at its inception -- using credit cards, and then using other credit cards to pay those cards, and then assuming they would be able to pay off the balances in X amount of time. While this would work in theory for the responsible, planned business, and it did indeed work for them, 5 years later, we know that not everyone is that financially skilled. I don't know if those pages would have made it through the editorial process were the book published today.

Also wasting space in the book is accounts of semi-failed projects that were previously featured in the magazine, such as a chair made out of plastic bottles. "The noise when sitting on it," was one of the cons associated with the project, as if that even needed saying. "Remake This!" they ask of these projects -- but why in the world would you want to? Surely there are better discard materials with which to craft a chair.

Somewhat interesting, however, was the historical pages on cloth, metal, paper, and plastic. Talking about how these materials came into wide use is probably not interesting to everyone, and it certainly doesn't help with project inspiration, but it makes sense to start the different sections with these introductions.

There's really not much more to say about this book other than don't bother spending full price on it. I checked it out from the library, and I suppose it would be an okay used bookstore purchase if it were under $10, if for directions on the dog bed project and a couple of the wood building projects alone. Still, calling this book a guide on how to make almost everything is really misleading. Rather than {Almost}, it should read {Hardly}.


This was a library book. Support your local libraries!

This review is part of Pajiba’s Cannonball Read III, in which participants attempt to read and review 52 books over the course of one year. In order to make up for last year’s 51 books, I’m aiming for 53. The challenge ends December 31, 2011.


  1. Kinda wantto read this for it's ridiculousness! Heather H.

  2. Well definitely look in the library first! Actually, with the dog bed, it made me sort of sad that we'd just tossed a bunch of Tyson's ripped jeans before we moved. I knew that they could be useful for SOMETHING, but didn't need to move them. Alas.