At Mr X Stitch we love to review textile art and embroidery books for you. There are so many great books to discover, packed with needlework inspiration and textile techniques, so we dive into each book to find out what’s good, what’s bad and let you know why you should pick it up.
Here’s what we think in a nutshell of Organic Embroidery by Meredith Woolnough, published by Schiffer. It is a paperback book, square yet not cheaply made or flimsy to the touch. Overall, we feel that this book has hit on a niche area of machine embroidery (with sculptural elements) and fine art, illustrated beautifully with both real life nature shots and artist examples.
This is not a step-by-step guide, the author has developed a multi facetted approach, explaining each step of her process, yet allowing room for our own ideas and ways of working. There are twelve idea prompts, yet we are not constricted or led down a narrow path. We are given the allowance to put our own stamp on the work we develop.
About The Author
Meredith Woolnough has a deep love of nature which we can truly see evidence of through this book. She classes herself as a visual artist, within this book we see a lot of machine embroidery, leading into textiles sculpture as well as fine art techniques; so she has a wealth of experience across artistic disciplines. She currently teaches workshops and works with schools too. She is an exhibiting artist, living in Newcastle, Australia.
Who Is This Book Aimed At?
Those with a love of nature, who want to bring this into their artwork. The book is focused on embroidery, however sketchbooks and painted work also pervade through this inspirational paperback. There is an immaculate attention to detail to be observed here, so those who really love complex stitching will be able to get stuck into this book. Embroidery and textiles are the main two subject areas, with a key focus on free machine embroidery. For those who have some knowledge of embroidery and want to develop their skills, this book is an idea inspirational step up.
The book is divided into four key sections. It is set out extremely well, in an orderly easy to follow format. The sections are all divided in an obvious way.
We loved Woolnough’s attention to the natural side of things. We glean insight into her techniques, her initial field work, walks in nature. This is vital to her practice, this connection to nature.
Visually we discover the connection between the artist and her pieces; as you can see above, work in progress shots illustrate certain ideas.
This is the key highlight of this book – the photography is sublime. The mix of real life nature images coupled with the embroidery ones proves to illustrate the seamless connection and theme throughout this book.
The sections of this book are obviously marked off and separated. Photography wise, they are beautiful in themselves.
What Makes The Book Special?
The generous way this artist discloses her sketchbook and behind the scenes work is just lovely. This isn’t just a how to book, it isn’t project led either. It seems to have a bit of everything; inspiration, some projects and plenty of tips and tricks. It is educational, yet not in a controlling way – we can try our own ideas out using her methods as a role model.
Many of us may be guilty of creating pieces without any prior sketching. The artist shows us how the sketchbooks themselves can be beautiful, not just a pathway to get to a finished piece. Could that be something we try out ourselves within our own practice?
We particularly enjoyed the artists Stitched Letter work. She speaks here describing the challenge she set for herself – writing out personal letters in stitch. This involves the free machine embroidery techniques we learn within this book, involving a type of dissolvable fabric. The special point about using this method is that once the fabric is dissolved, the text becomes distorted – so the texts content remains a secret! This is a key example of where we can use our own inspiration – what letters do we want to write? What are our secrets?
Anything Wrong With The Book?
If you don’t like nature or are not interested in developing your embroidery with free motion techniques using your sewing machine then this isn’t for you.
From marine life to walks in nature, the artist values it all and her love of life shows. It is infectious, we are shown how to develop our own replicas of nature. What inspires you? Leaves? Shells? Do yourself a favour, buy a copy and start your pathway in nature now.