I missed Mark Montano's first book but he recently sent me his latest one, The Big Ass Book of Crafts 2 for review.  Now I know what I missed!

It's as big-ass as the title states. Full of fun projects that any one can do using materials that are not hard to find or recycling and re-purposing others in novel ways.

If you are expecting dainty, pretty crafts, you'd be disappointed. This book screams "craftoholic" with bold, funky and occasionally outlandish designs.  You may not agree with his choices of materials but you can take the ideas and run with it!

The book speaks to all creative souls with plenty of can-do spirit.  Plus those who appreciate a writer-designer with a great sense of humor! The book was a joy to read and I admit I chuckled in places.

Mark explains what he does in just one sentence - "I write BIG-ASS books, sleep with a loaded glue gun, teach sewing at the Braille Institute, host TV shows (The Learning Channel) and I whip out my crayons in public."

Yes, he is a whirlwind of activity as shown by the more than 150 projects crammed into his new book.  He covers not just jewelry but home decor, small table design, fun things to make for kids and even how to update your tired looking accessories.  Two of my favorites are the zipper embellished shoe and the scrap lace bag and shoe ideas.

He has been crafting since childhood as his parents used crafting as a way of calming him and his brothers down.  I'm not sure if that reduced the mayhem at all because he ruefully admitted to childhood misdemeanors involving heating up plastic on the stove.

But it all turned out in the end as he was able to come up with his melted water bottle plastic jewelry. Shown here is the bracelet tutorial  from the melted plastic jewelry section.  I preferred his necklace design which didn't have the black faceted beads.

Mark now habitually collects and buys all sorts of fun things just in case he could make something out of them. Who but Mark would bother to buy not 1 but 50 wiffle balls from the dollar store?

We talk about the flowing of creative juices. In Mark's case, it's more like Niagara Falls.  Every little thing or activity in his daily life releases the flood waters.  Eating potato chips one day led to the fabric-based Pretty Pringles necklace. Looking out the window at his neighbor's uninspiring weather vane resulted in a new one, a Christmas gift to her.

In fact, his female friends are always in luck because while Mark doesn't wear the sparkles and embellished designs he creates, they do.  He designed this beaded fringe necklace for his best friend Shaye. The how-to is in the book as well as on his blog. What's so big-ass about it?  There is no need to bead every strand - Mark used beaded fringe by the yard!

Beaded Fringe Necklace
I also loved his braided yarn scarf - a warm "necklace".  You could substitute the button for a small beaded brooch for that extra touch of class.

Braided Yarn Scarf
But he didn't neglect the manly stuff either.  He explains, "You know, stuff that a guy could make and then puff out his chest in pride while biting the cap off a beer bottle."  The Everything But The Bathroom Sink backsplash is just one of those projects.  Women can definitely make it too. What I liked about some of the how-tos in the book is the use of rhinestones, beads, glass cabochons and buttons - things we already have in our collections.  Perhaps some unloved beads and crystals could become spectacular in a future Mark inspired craft project.

Most of the projects are easy to do. Some will require you get familiar with concrete mixes but Mark explains it in such a clear manner, you're encouraged to try.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Backsplash

Maybe you are like Mark who is fond of doll heads but I found them too creepy.  But even I have to say the doll head night light (above right) does look appropriate in the home of a super-crafter.

He constantly experiments - one beautiful craft involved using alcohol inks on aluminum flashing which was used to cover a wooden box.  The final effect did give it the look of malachite hence the name of the project. He suggested using this technique to cover anything from tabletops to mirrors and drawers.  But I think this technique is worth exploring on a much smaller scale - aluminum jewelry!

Maybe Malachite Box
Many of the projects weren't to my personal taste but there were gems I plan to try in different ways. I learned about new techniques and alternative ways of putting things together to create something unique.  This book should be read with an open mind and with your creativity gear engaged.

If you want a chance to get inspired the Mark Montano way, there is an extra copy of the book for one lucky winner.

All you have to do is make a comment below. Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower or also on Facebook Fan page or Twitter . If you also do shout outs about this giveaway on your favorite forum, own blog, Facebook or Twitter even Google+ those will count as additional entries too!  Please say so in the comments.

This international giveaway ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, January 9, 2012. I will pick a winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to come back and check! Good luck!

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