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Book Review: Dover Books’ 922 Decorative Vector Ornaments

photo of cover of 922-decorative-vector-ornaments book

“922 Decorative Vector Ornaments”. Does what it says on the cover …

(There are some ‘affiliate links’ on this page. Please check the small print page for more details about my policies. But in the meantime here is my honest opinion about the “922 Decorative Vector Ornaments” book…)

I have been ‘reading’ this book about twice every week since 2018!

That’s because in 2018 I decided that I really wanted to improve my papercutting skills. Not just physical skills, but also my ability to adapt existing designs so they could be turned into papercuts. Because of that I embarked on a massive papercutting quest . But before starting, I knew I’d need a source of designs that could be used as practice-pieces. So I started searching for a suitable book…

Features:

When I first saw the “922 Decorative Vector Ornaments” book, I was looking for:

  • Monochrome silhouette-type images.
  • Royalty-free designs, so that I could use some of them in my own future projects.
  • A set of designs that actually appealed to me, so that (1) I would enjoy working on them at the time, and (2) I would actually like to incorporate the designs in future works of my own.
  • Vector-based images, that I could load/download and adapt them for my own projects, instead of having to ‘re-invent the wheel’ and draw the images from scratch.
  • A mix of small/simple and large/complex designs. Some for quick projects to adapt/cut, and some for very challenging projects that would take several days to complete.
  • A variety of styles (e.g. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Celtic, etc…)
  • A mix of images representing some that would need substantial time and thought to convert them into designs suitable for papercutting, and some that would require no adaptation at all and could be cut out immediately.
  • Enough designs to allow me to practise on several hundred images and therefore to build up my skills.
  • Enough designs so that any ongoing project would feel like a significant ‘win’ when I finished it.

Even from the front cover I could tell that book would provide all of those elements above. For example, in the book there was an Art Deco-style design that took only minutes to adapt for papercutting and then just a short time to cut…

close up of sunrise flower papercut from 922 decorative vector ornaments book - cut by LaserSister

…and a complex Art Nouveau-style design that took over an hour to adapt, then several hours to cut by hand:

papercut - Art Nouveau style roses - hand cut with scalpel - watermarked - LaserSister - KayVincent

Thoughts:

Yes, it has been a great book for me personally, because I am on a specific papercutting mission and have learned a lot through the processes of adapting the designs and then cutting them. If you are on a similar adventure then I hope this book will be equally helpful to you.

But what if you’re not an obsessive, checklist-completing, craft quester like me? What if all you want is a selection of royalty-free vector ornaments that you can quickly incorporate in your own designs? In that case I think this book will still be extremely useful – because I think that you are the person that it’s actually aimed at 🙂

Criticisms:

  • Why 922? What a weird number! Why not 1000? or even 999? Is it just me, or does 922 feel wrong? I might try to find some evidence to back up my theory, but I think that human beings like round numbers – especially multiples of ‘significant’ numbers. Surely that is why we celebrate 10th and 50th anniversaries more than (e.g.) 8th and 53rd ones?
  • Many of the designs are actually repeated throughout the book. Sometimes they’re not just replicated once, but several times. Which means that (1) if you divide the price of the book by the number of designs then that technically makes each design more expensive, and (2) the book does NOT do exactly what it says on the cover. It’s not 922 designs at all. In fact I would be surprised if there were even 900 different designs in it.
  • Who has a CD-reader these days? At the time of writing (March 2020), Dover Books don’t seem to have produced a digital version of the book, so if you want to use the vector-based designs then you might not have the equipment to read them in the first place.
  • The book is comparatively expensive, because it’s still (at the time of writing – i.e. March 2020) only available as a physical book and CD.

As mentioned above, I personally use this book as a frequent reference book, so my cost-per-use rates are now very low! Also, I love having a library of images that I can choose from for a wide range of projects. This is just one book in Dover Books’ giant range of sourcebooks for artists, and I now own several of their others as well. But while I’m still on my current papercutting adventure “922 Decorative Vector Ornaments” is genuinely my most-used book.

Have you tried to cut any of the designs from this book? Do you agree that 922 is a weird number? Let me know via the comments page, or Facebook, TwitterInstagram.

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