Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: Dragonolia: 14 Tales and Craft Projects for the Creative Adventurer by Chris Barnardo

Dragonolia: 14 Tales and Craft Projects for the Creative Adventurer
Author:  Chris Barnardo
Publisher:  Skyhorse Publishing, November 3, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 96 pages
List Price:  US$16.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9781634503273 (print); 9781510700925 (eBook)

Dragonolia is a storybook with a difference. Discover 14 charming tales, where each one is intertwined with an exciting craft project enabling the reader to relive the amazing adventures of Sir Richard Barons, the famous 19th century dragon hunter.

Learn how to make an antique-looking Box Frame while reading about the tale of the Mischievous Mink; or perhaps you might like to find out how to easily craft the fabulous Wizards’ Wand that brought the dying dragon, Angeline, back to life at the last minute; or even make a real-life Dreamcatcher to hang above your bed as you follow Sir Richard Barons into the Brazilian jungle on the trail of the Celestial Dragon Spirit to cure his niece of the horrible nightmares she suffered after she banged her head falling off her horse.

The stories, written in an imaginative Victorian style befitting of the great adventurer, fit perfectly round their accompanying craft projects, which being beautifully laid out in simple, easy-to-follow steps, ensure a truly immersive and rewarding experience for the reader and listener alike.

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Sir Richard Barons, a dragon hunter and explorer of some renown, shares exploits from his past in the form of short stories. It should be noted that Sir Richard does not hunt dragons to kill them but rather to gather information and artifacts. Each story ends with a modern idea for creating your own artifact and the instructions are easy to follow and well detailed.

The first chapter entitled "Shadow Box Frame; The tale of the lost mink that was the cause of an invention" is a highly creative and imaginative tale. This story recounts Sir Richard's father's exploits as a boy who desired to tame a mink and make him into a trained pet. Chaos quickly ensues as the mink escapes its captivity and finds refuge in the walls of their home. Destructive measures are taken to capture the mink by making holes in the plaster. A quick-thinking housekeeper uses her ingenuity to cover the holes and an innovation in displaying prized possessions is born. Directions to create your own shadow box are provided in 15 steps along with tracing templates.

The next story entitled "Antique Chart; Dream of an undiscovered country" and the art of mapmaking tells of the author stumbling upon his father's charts and journal pages. On Dragon Island his father and his crew were able to repair their ship and get much needed provisions. During their stay they enjoyed the company of the locals so much that they gave the island's inhabitants a gift of a set of maps of the entire archipelago. Keeping a set of maps for themselves, they vowed to return but the company never found the island again. Sir Richard tells the story with the hopes that it will inspire readers to make a map of their own. Nine simple instructions are provided as well as samples of lettering and other details. The short story inspired me as I have always loved looking at maps, and I tried my hand. The template for the map was easy to download but I made the mistake of printing in black and white where color would have been preferable. Mapmaking is somewhat time consuming, even if you are just using your own imagination, but I was able to produce a pretty cool map in under three hours.

The next craft to catch my eye was the Dragonhide Pouch, accompanied by the short story "Tough negotiations for the toughest hide". In this amusing anecdote, our hero must procure dragonhide for a friend whose up and coming London business plans on catering to the whims of the upper crust. He plans on providing them the opportunity to purchase authentic dragonhide purses, wallets, and pouches. Sir Richard Barons travels to Nepal in order to purchase the highest quality dragonhide available. Negotiations are successful but a few months later the intrepid negotiator learns that he may have been played for a fool. This craft has nine steps with instructions that are simple to follow. I made some modifications since I didn't have the correct material in my craft bin. Instead I used a red flannel sock and a pouch I already had on hand. Two bits of advice: Please use caution around hot glue if there are little ones involved, and the inevitable dangling glue threads were time consuming to get rid of, but should definitely be removed before painting.

Dragonolia by Chris Barnardo accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It entertains by way of 14 amusing tales of adventure and provides instructions for accompanying crafts that will inspire both young and old. The stories lend themselves to older children through adults. "The Filigree Egg Case; the inspiration for the most famous of jewelry eggs" and "Wizard's Wand; The big freeze of '27" are worth mentioning because the stories are outrageously wonderful and although I didn't get to these projects yet, they look enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had making these crafts. I am proud of my Dragonolia creations and I hope to find time to make more.

Dragonolia Projects
Dragonhide Pouches and Map of Alabaster Island
Photo and Crafts by T. Maknis


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