Slow Stitch Mindful and contemplative textile art by Claire Wellesley – Smith is said to be one of few books at present covering this subject area, thus fills a much needed gap. Published by Batsford (Pavilion Books) coupled with its luxurious touch again cover it certainly calms on first glace.
Mindfulness, slowing down, meditation; three things which seem to be on tend. How can we translate these into Textiles? As the foreword tells us, ‘The speed of life in the 21st century can be overwhelming’ – so what can be do about it? Lets see if stitching can be your therapy…
Who’s the book for?
Maybe you love hand stitching anyway or maybe you have been a keen machine embroiderer who now feels the need to slow down and appreciate the art of slow. Whoever you are and no matter your skill level, this book will appeal to you if you want to relax and employ new methods within your craft.
This publication has been divided into four main sections or ‘Parts’. We enjoyed the divisions, as they give us advice on not just Slow Stitch techniques; but also the materials to use, how it fits in with a variety of cultures and how we can use it as therapy.
What makes it special?
Okay, so we walk into any book store and yes, we will come face to face with a self-help book, which will profess to change our outlook and lives for the better. Does this publication state the same? No; yet it subtly walks us through how really stitching can be a part of our mental and physical healing process; or indeed provide a needed distraction in some way. Smith wheedles this in, in a humble way, without boasting or setting the stakes high.
If we exist in this world, its impossible to miss the recycling ethos which covers everything from our clothing to our bin contents. How can we use what we have in an art way? Smith provides ideas for those too precious to use and stored for a future purpose items, which all artists will admit to having!
It’s not just stitching that gets discussed, we learn how to create pieces from scratch, by dyeing our fabric with plant based dyes. This is pictured from flower to fabric, which makes the stages of the technique easy for our brains to process and understand; then hopefully put into action.
Anything wrong with the book?
If you are looking for a Machine Embroidery guide….you’ve ventured into the wrong hardcover! As the conclusion will also stress, this book has not been designed either as a step by step guide. We see it as a tool of encouragement, Smith doesn’t push us down a one outcome fits all route, she simply puts an idea out there and lets us interpret it in our own personal way.
This book is the perfect companion to a slower paced life. Maybe you are striving for that yourself or would like to see how it would be possible. Maybe you are no a break and want something both relaxing and inspiring to ponder over.
The photography and samples are thought provoking, leaving us sure of the meditative quality stitching and working from the basics can have.
Written by an established artist, who also teaches extensively, a quiet confidence is conveyed through the text.
As a freelance artist, designer, lecturer and tutor (how do I narrow down that description?!) I have been contracted by numerous arts organizations to provide Talks, Workshops’ and Masterclasses’ in Textiles, Print Making and Fine Art subjects. These include branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild, Textile Study Groups and The Women’s Institute. Every year I teach at The Knitting and Stitching shows and exhibit with the Artist in Action stand. Currently I am building up to my exhibition at The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia, London this spring; having also written articles or had work illustrated in Stitch, Inspired, Embroidery, Selvedge, Daphne’s Diary, Prima (online), Cloth Paper Scissors and the Batsford book ‘Be Creative with Textile Art.'