If you've been craving a good crafts project, two new books will help put your hands to work: "Ready-Made" ($16.50; amazon.com ), by ReadyMade magazine founders Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne, and "D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself," by Ellen Lupton, a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her students ($19.95; in stores next month). "Ready-Made" tackles everything from stationery to home decor (including a cool doormat made from wooden clothespins). An-other favorite idea: picture frames made from used hard-cover books with quirky titles (pictured). Most of the projects require only basic tools and found objects, like scissors, thread and old hubcaps, and minimal design skills.
Lupton's book is more ambitious. It includes some simple projects, like a blank book with a cover made from sewn-together chopsticks, but also offers help with elaborate wedding invitations, blog design, embroidered shirts, handbags and sleek wall graphics. The authors' goals go beyond mere creativity: they want you to think like a designer. "Learning to build your own Web site... or publish your own book makes you more critical of the media you see and read each day," writes Lupton. Ouch!