Book Review – Stitch Illo by Uppercase

  Mr X Stitch Book Review

What’s it about and who is it for?

Stitch Illo is written and published by the company Uppercase, owned by Janine Vangool.  They publish artisan, beautifully photographed magazines and books, with an emphasis on quality and a sense of the tactile. The company themselves have stated this about the book itself: “Traditional embroidery and textile arts are enjoying a renaissance as we rediscover stitching techniques once popular during our grandmothers’ times. Embroidery, needlework, appliqué and quilting are au courant in illustration, fine art and craft. Stitch•illo highlights the many sides of this resurgence: the textural, labour-intensive works of textile artists who tell stories through their work; illustrators who eschew digital tools and are turning to needle, thread and fabric as a means to communicate; and creative entrepreneurs employing stitching and needlework to build fulfilling businesses. Through techniques that emerge from the domestic arts, women are reclaiming stitching as a medium that goes beyond decoration or simple function. The needle is likened to a pencil or paint brush; thread, yarn and fibre is the paint. The artists profiled within Stitch•illo honour their own histories and cultures while layering upon them. Wielding simple needle and thread, they stitch powerful messages. They push boundaries, both of what society expects of women’s art, and what the artists expect of themselves. They illustrate the world around them—or conjure new ones from deep within their imagination. They create beauty and find peace. They tell deeply personal stories, and in the process share universal ones of connection and feeling.” Having only visited their website and lusted over their high end publications, I was very excited to make this purchase for myself. The publishers have claimed that this a “volume of inspiration”.  Can it be for real?  Let me give you a quick tour of the book.

Delving inside

Lets examine the front cover……….. From the very beginning, we feel like we are getting a one off piece.  The book itself has a paper dust jacket, several variations are available and it seems to be a random choice as to which one you end up with.  This makes receiving the book in the post even more exciting.
Its a lottery which cover you receive, but why worry, they are all beautiful
It is about A5 in size, with nearly 350 pages, thus we are getting value for our buck. Mine arrived with this cover.  The only downside is that this fragile paper could get torn or damaged.  Inside though it has a usual softback (shiny!) cover which seems more durable.
Fragile but beautiful; my own copy with its dust jacket

What does it contain?

The book itself really does hold up to it’s encyclopaedia claim.  A few pages in and we can glace down a list of artists, each with their very own space of pages.
Artists are clearly listed

What’s to love?

The beauty is seen in its visual format, imagery is first class  all the way through. I love the through the keyhole insights we ascertain from viewing; the artists let us into their studio space and within the text we discover their inspiration and how they work.
Artists studios revealed
Each artist leads us through their individual approach to their art, from initial sketch……..
….to textile outcome
This isn’t a staid, maybe a little old fashioned publication, we get glimpses of how some artists have played with surfaces to create unique embroideries.  Take for example this one:
Artist Danielle Clough knows no boundaries when it comes to surfaces to embroider. This example shows a net wire gate.

Final thoughts?

This book has such wide appeal.  It could be a coffee table decoration for those with little interest in Textile art, or it could be a treasure for those who are.  Personally I feel that it is one of those books which you will keep in full view, for any moments where you lack inspiration or simple want to have some art feeding to cheer your day.  I loved it and really think you will too.  I have so many friends who I know will love it too, trouble is….I don’t want anyone to borrow mine! The same publisher print a selection of monthly magazines too.  Now that I have experienced this one, I feel the need for a subscription. If it is something you feel you need in your life, here’s the website to purchase and peruse.
From portrait art……………..
…to make do and mend with Mandy Pattullo
Now lets stitch our own story………