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White Plains Woman Pens Comprehensive Craft Book

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Although Carol Sterbenz just spent five years publishing a “comprehensive, encyclopedic volume” on handcrafts , Sterbenz, 67, says she is still eager to talk shop with readers and fellow crafters on her website .

“I want to make it the hub of learning for fool-proof methods, videos, and book reviews. The really nice thing about being a crafter is we are so accessible to one another. There’s a lot of camaraderie,” said Sterbenz, who moved to White Plains six or seven years ago. “People can contact me if they’re working through a project or have an idea. I love being in touch with readers and I do write back.”

As a retired elementary school teacher, Sterbenz says after she transitioned from writing children’s books to publishing her first craft book on Scandinavian home arts in 1980 she’s envisioned coupling her lifelong love of crafts and experience instructing into a do-it-yourself compilation.

In 1998, she began drafting her book proposal, which got picked up by Scribner in 2006. On Oct. 18 she released Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts was released, which was recently recommended by Entertainment Weekly magazine.

“This is really a compilation of everything I’ve learned, all the mistakes I’ve made, so the reader doesn’t have to make the same ones. Every single craft in the book has been done four or five times,” said Sterbenz, who tested about 60 types of glue while writing the book. “I was breathless when it came out. I couldn’t believe this book with such heft, and such substance, and such an emotional connection to me was in my hands.”

The 773 pages are divided into chapters on beading, floral arts, paper crafting, hand printing, decoupage, decorative embellishing, and children’s arts and crafts. Pen and ink illustrations by Harry Bates were included as an alternative to color photographs, which tend to fade.

“The book travels in stages. So if we’re talking about beading, stringing beads is first and then next there’s an immediate level of stringing and wire work, and then finally weaving. If someone is interested in learning, it’s like having a home tutor,” said Sterbenz.

Sterbenz’s parents wove home crafting into her life early on in her childhood by teaching her about Scandinavian traditions.

“My parents were immigrants. We really didn’t watch TV. We cultivated a garden, learned to embroider, learned to run a house. It was really very oriented to home arts, and then as we got older I started having interests that were more sophisticated,” said Sterbenz. “My father had come to this country as a photographer, so I learned how to develop film, print pictures and that was sort of this magical door that opened.”

Now that Homemade is out, Sterbenz says she’s considering writing a similar book on “softer arts and crafts” such as knitting, crochet, embroidery, tapestry, and rug hooking, wrapping up a novel she’s been working on, and getting to know White Plains.

“I’m just now getting to know White Plains. Although, I used to visit my grandmother up here in the early 60s,” said Sterbenz. “The first time I walked down Mamaroneck Avenue it was the oddest sense of deja vu and I kind of new why. Since then I’ve been looking for her apartment.”

What's your favorite type of craft? Will you be making any crafts as gifts this holiday season? Join the conversation below.

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