May 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry


Guest Post by Meganne Fabrega

9781617690969.jpgI was in the reading room of the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA, when I first came across a notice about Jessica Pigza's latest book BiblioCraft: A Modern Crafter's Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects (STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book, $27.50). Needless to say, I was hooked. After spending a month paging through colorful nineteenth-century children's illustrations, ladies' newspapers, and household instructional manuals, I was ready to stop researching and start crafting.

Pigza is in a unique position to write a book that is as wonderfully educational as it is inspirational. As a crafter and flea market aficionado, as well as a rare books librarian at the New York Public Library, Pigza describes how she discovered that she was "sitting on top of a craft book gold mine" at the NYPL. She began to sing the praises of the collection in her outreach efforts, which include blogging, "Handmade Crafternoons" at the library, and expeditions to craft shops around the city. In the process, Pigza met other crafters who shared her love for antique inspiration and contributed their own project ideas to BiblioCraft.

In a day and age where everyone with a DSL line imagines that they can find exactly what they are looking for on their own, Pigza has written a much-needed guide to libraries and how to use their collections in "Part One: Finding Inspiration at the Library." She provides detailed instructions and describes the different types of libraries (branch, research, special collections), recommendations for planning your trip to the library, tips for researching your area of interest, and a directory of physical and digital libraries. Pigza also demystifies the Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification call number systems, as well as subject headings, so that the crafter can best narrow down the topic of choice.

"Part Two: Projects Inspired by the Library" boasts over twenty glorious projects for crafters to choose by an all-star lineup including Heather Ross, Grace Bonney, Natalie Chanin, and Gretchen Hirsch. In addition to beautiful photographs and step-by-step instructions, each project includes the history behind the project's inspiration. For example, Hirsch's Wool Rose Fascinator project (inspired by Pierre Joseph Redouté's hand-finished engravings of roses) also features information about the millinery arts and lists early twentieth-century periodicals to refer to, as well as other books on the topic and subject headings to explore. More projects include Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders, Cartouche Embroidery, and Pigza's own Cuts of Meat Table Runner.

BiblioCraft is a book that will appeal to the detail-oriented, from its exquisite presentation (I loved the "check-out card" in the front of the book) to the types of libraries and crafts that are explored: no resource is left unturned.

Now if you'll excuse me, there are some Felt Dogwood Blossoms that are calling my name...

Meganne Fabrega writes about art, craft, books, and nineteenth-century women for a variety of publications. You can find her online at