Book Review: Crafting Personal Shrines

Crafting Personal Shrines (Book Cover)

Crafting Personal Shrines: Using Photos, Mementos & Treasures to Create Artful Displays by Carol Owen. (2004). New York: Lark Books, a division of Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. ISBN 978-1-579-90811-9

Ever since I read and reviewed a book on the artist Louise Nevelson, I have been thinking about assemblage and sculpture as it might apply to my artwork. While I have not figured that out, yet, I have come across some really cool books. Crafting Personal Shrines: Using Photos, Mementos & Treasures to Create Artful Displays by Carol Owen is one of those books.

Title page of  Crafting Personal Shrines  by Carol Owen.

Title page of Crafting Personal Shrines by Carol Owen.

Carol Owen is an artist who started constructing her own personal shrines by trial-and-error. Over time, she developed her own methods for cutting, shaping, and constructing the various designs she uses. Shrines to her are not necessarily religious, but keepers of memories and symbols of a wide variety of activities and emotions. She writes:

Today, artists create shrines to express many different things, often not religious. They may be political, humorous, or satirical. They can be about family, travel, nature, or just about anything that interests the creator. They may express a strong emotion of the moment—anger or joy. They may contain a message or comment on everyday events, or be concerned with the same themes found in shrines from ancient times: mankind's relationship to the earth, and the mysteries of life and death. (p. 9)
How to Build a Shrine with Six Variations in  Crafting Personal Shrines .

How to Build a Shrine with Six Variations in Crafting Personal Shrines.

It is evident from the detailed description of materials and the little tips that come from experience (like wrapping the corners of a shrine during the construction instead of after the layers are put together) that show Owen has rolled up her sleeves and worked with these materials. She provides readers with step-by-step instructions for building six shrines. Each of the shrines have their own variations. Some have drawers, shelves, and doors on which to place or store objects. The written instructions are enhanced with photographs that make the construction process look easier than it probably is in real life.

Decorating Your Shrine in  Crafting Personal Shrine  s .

Decorating Your Shrine in Crafting Personal Shrines.

Owen provides more tips and tricks for decorating and personalizing your shrine before ending the book with "A Maker's Dozen" and a gallery. These sections highlight artists' works that are as varied as the individual artists themselves. It is amazing to me—and inspiring—what people can do with (more than) a few bits and bobs and some imagination.

Three-dimensional artwork is a fairly new curiosity for me. I love books like this that both challenge my own, personal understanding of art and art-making and provide inspiration for exploring this topic further.

Have you read this book? Tell me what I've got wrong (or right!)

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Cheers!--Janyce