Naughty, Yet Nice

The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry, by Jennifer Perkins, is an excellent antidote to boring accessory habits.

She's crafty, and that's a fact.
She's crafty, and that's a fact.

The exact date at which I became a pearls-only kind of gal is arguable, but Jennifer Perkins’ naughty guide to jewelry The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry, North Light Books, 144 pp., $16.99 – makes one thing perfectly clear: I’m not nearly as fun as I used to be. Not to worry, though; Perkins’ kitschy craft book is an excellent antidote to boring accessory habits. The introduction openly admits that if “tackaliscious” isn’t your style, this may not be the book for you. Which has some truth to it, as I would hate to see some of its designs on anyone older than the age of 8. More important, though, is her claim that even if your style isn’t quite as loud as hers, you can use the projects in her book for inspiration and the techniques as groundwork for your own cutesy inventions.

A founding member of the Austin Craft Mafia, Perkins includes a few heavy-duty projects in Naughty Secretary Club that are clearly for the seasoned crafter, but the book covers projects for skill levels from “first day on the job” to “you deserve a raise” to “running the show.” In addition to office-themed skill levels, the book includes memos with info ranging from office statistics (42% of people surveyed have had an office romance) to office-supply-based beauty tips (use a Sharpie and Wite-Out to make “domino nails”).

The skill-level rating of each project is accurate, with clear instructions and demonstrative photographs for even the simplest bangles and baubles. The book also includes excellent guides to making a wrapped loop and using a high-speed drill (think Dremel) to the best of its craft ability. In fact, the most challenging aspect of any of the projects is not following the steps, but finding materials. A quick run to the bead store won’t supply you with cake toppers, vintage watches, motel keys, toy typewriters, alligator clips, campaign pins, or any of the other adorable antique-mall artifacts that are used in all of Perkins’ projects. Because of the unusual nature of the required materials, the book is best for people who have an innate love of knickknacks and a tendency to horde them. However, Perkins doesn’t leave crafters who are new to kitsch hanging; she provides a list of general sources and specific websites that sell materials like the ones featured in the book, as well as a page of artwork that is meant to be cut out and used in the designs. Thanks to Perkins and her over-the-top, cutie-pie instruction, I think I’ve found my fun side. Now I wear my pearls with my shark sweater clips.

[Perkins will sign copies of her book Aug. 30, 3-6pm. at Craft-o-Rama, 3100 S. Congress. See Belinda Acosta's Chronic post for more about Perkins and the signing.]

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