6 Inspiring Books To Help You Through Self Isolation

As the coronavirus pandemic ramps up and many head into the first week of home-schooling, we’ve assembled a list of some of our favourite craft books to help provide those all-important moments of distraction, calm and creativity.

Craft has long been credited with alleviating the symptoms of lonliness and depression, and we think it can play a really important role for all of us over the coming months. Research shows crafts can ease anxiety and enhance feelings of happiness. Psychotherapist Hilda Burke says that “Crafting […] helps people both to switch off from distractions and switch on to the present moment. In other words, to be more mindful.”

These books will guide you through creative, home-based projects that will help support your mental health during these uncertain times.

Most of the projects in these books can be completed with items you have at home – for some, all you need is a humble pencil.

Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

Conscious Creativity is unlike most craft books. It concentrates on creativity as a lifestyle, rather than focusing on learning a specific skill. Philippa Stanton invites the reader to practice small creative tasks daily, stimulating your imagination and reinvigorating your creative life.

The book is filled with simple, engaging exercises to promote observation and experimentation – you are encouraged to take note of colour, shapes, shadows, sounds and textures that fill your world and how they make you feel.

Conscious Creativity will open your world – no matter how small it feels right now – allowing you to find creative inspiration in every corner of your home.

On the Loom by Maryanne Moodie

If you have visited the museum you’ll be familiar with our beautiful collection of weaving by makers including Valentine KilBride and Ethel Mairet. Last year we were thrilled to host a residency with weaver Alice Timmis, who created a new collection of contemporary designs on the museum’s traditional George Maxwell loom.

In On the Loom, Maryanne Moodie provides step by step tutorials for the new weaver. Readers are guided through the basics of the craft, and provided with 25 projects to try at home. Don’t have a loom? Don’t fret! You can purchase one through our site here or even make your own at home, all you need is some cardboard and a ruler.

According to famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, when we partake in crafts such as knitting, crochet and weaving we enter a flow state, releasing serotonin and dopamine and entering a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge. Sounds pretty appealing to us right now!


Draw Your Own Fonts by Tony Seddon

Brilliant for children and adults alike, Draw Your Own Fonts is an easy how-to guide to hand lettering. You’ll find 30 complete alphabets drawn in the book by a team of designers and illustrators all designed to help you create eye-catching fonts that jump off the page. Readers are encouraged to adapt the letters and create their own unique font.

The fonts are playful and fun, styles include Spaghetti Junction – where each letter looks like spaghetti, and Buildings – a font built from skyscrapers.

The book is a brilliant option for home-schoolers looking for a creative challenge for art class.


Nib & Ink: The New Art of Modern Calligraphy by Chiara Perano

A favourite in our shop, Nib & Ink takes you through the basics of modern calligraphy, letter by letter. Chiara Perano leads the reader through the techniques, providing guidance on joining letters, spacing and pacing. She sets you up with several projects, and if you run into trouble just turn to the FAQ section at the back.

Calligraphy has been proven to enhance cognitive function in older people with mild cognitive impairment, and has even been incorporated into residential care home programmes. There are also loads of brilliant ‘How-To’ videos on YouTube, so perhaps a Skype family calligraphy class is in order!

If you’re inspired to find out more about the history of the practice, we recommend Johnston and Gill: Very British Types by Mark Ovenden, a celebration on Gill and Johnston’s significant contribution to Britain’s visual culture.

Doodle A Day – Chris Riddell

We were lucky enough to host a talk with Chris recently, where the celebrated Guardian cartoonist and Children’s Laureate drew as he spoke about his impressive career. Chris is a real inspiration and we’re delighted to be stocking some of his books for children in our shop.

Doodle A Day offers a great way to pass the many days of isolation that lie ahead. It’s crammed full of inspiration, prompts and tips and aims to keep you doodling every day. There are patterns to finish, seasons to scribble, room to draw your lunch, mood, pets and family and invitations to draw what you are listening to – all of which can be completed from your own home.

The Mindful Maker by Clare Youngs

The ideal companion to social isolation – The Mindful Maker celebrates the simple joy of making, encouraging you to slow down and practice mindfulness through craft. The book features a range of projects including block printing, punch needling, shibori dyeing, weaving, macramé and quilting, all of which encourage a mindful approach, and a way to experience a feeling of ‘flow’.

Clare Youngs is a big believer in making new things from old, using what you have and adapting old fabrics, so you’ll find materials for many of the projects around your home.

We are thrilled to still be shipping products from our new online shop to keep you entertained through these unusual times. Purchases from our shop also directly support the work of the museum, enabling us to care for our collection and support our staff during this financially challenging period.

We appreciate all the support. Remember – stay home, stay safe and get crafty!