Shelley Rhodes F and R

Fragmentation and Repair

Textile Art Book Reviews

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.

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Fragmentation and Repair: For Mixed Media and Textile Artists is authored by Shelley Rhodes and published by Batsford.

Lets discover what it is all about…..

Discover the rich creative possibilities of fragmentation and repair in textile art.

Drawing on her own practice, Shelley explains how she reconstructs and reassembles cloth, paper and other materials to create new pieces, often incorporating found objects and items she has collected over the years to add depth and emotional resonance. From piercing and devoré to patching and darning……what will be your favourite?

The content we get from the publisher tells us what we will discover too:

  • Fragmentation of materials, text and image.
  • Repair using darning and patching along with pins, tape, adhesive and plaster.
  • The Japanese concepts of wabi-sabi (finding beauty in imperfection) and mottainai (using every last scrap).
  • Using salvaged and recycled materials, and repurposing household items.
  • Methods of distressing and manipulating surfaces including weathering, abrasion, burning, piercing, staining and burying.
  • Collage, working in a series and collecting fragments.

Beautifully illustrated with Shelley’s own pieces alongside those of other leading artists, this fascinating book is the ideal companion for any textile artist wanting to bring notions of fragility, fragmentation and repair into their own work.


The concept of repair is certainly not new and we see it as a feature within many textile art publications coming out in the world we currently live in. Maybe it is that world environment which has pushed many to go down that route. So, will another book which touches upon this theme be required? Will it be a copy of those previously published? Within Fragmentation and Repair Shelley Rhodes touches upon some really inspiring themes and concepts. Through our review of this publication, we will delve into certain ones we feel are particularly of interest. As it is published by Batsford, we note that as a highly esteemed publishing house that this book will be of merit….yet will you let it on your bookshelf?

Beautifully illustrated with many examples of the authors work and other well known artists, lets have a read….

About The Author

Shelley Rhodes is an established artist, who specialises in mixed media work. She combines a wealth of skills, including drawing with stitches, fabric, digital art and mixed media to create beautiful textile art . She teaches workshops all over the country and is inspired by many sources, including lost items, her own travel experiences and memories. She is currently a member of the highly inspirational group Textile Study Group and has written for other publications, as well as writing this book we are reviewing today.

Who Is This Book Aimed At?

Particularly those who enjoy exploring textile art which does not simply include fabric. Maybe those who are looking for new ideas and ways of exploring textiles by including mixed media.


Lets first look at the content we are to observe:

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair content

Look at that copious list above, it promises a lot of variety! We will now focus on a few highlights and then leave the rest for you to discover when you purchase your own copy….

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair introduction
We see how the artists own favoured areas have become the concept for this book

Concepts explored

Within the introduction, we come across vital content information. We learn what the artist is drawn to and how it relates to other cultures such as Japan. Maybe you have heard of the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi which involves finding beauty in the not always seen as beautiful, maybe the broken or fractured. We discover directly from the artist themselves how this influences their work.

Types of stitching techniques

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch
Slow stitch

Above we come across a piece with a Kantha vibe, the slow stitch. This book is not machine embroidery related, it is very much about the use of our hands directly with the materials themselves. Another thing to note is the artists use of colour through the book. We observe a lot of naturally based tones. Certainly not bold and brash, they come accross as fragile which aligns to the title.


Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch kantha
Notes on Kantha

The techniques are thoroughly explained, this includes where they have come from, their historical context as well as visual examples. This works well for those who want to try and add depth of meaning to their textile art.

Dyeing and distressing

The natural world and how it can even effect cloth is touched upon. We see examples or rust, ageing and weathering. All of the examples are photographed even with zoomed in examples, so we can see the patterns that nature has provided….

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch up close
Nature and fabric are allowed to combine

Burning and deliberate disrepair

As well as uncontrolled disrepair we learn about those we can control or are done with planning.

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair burning
Burning and other chosen methods

Within this publication we are given so many ideas and threads to follow, so there is bound to be one to interest you.

How to present the art we create

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair fragments
Present our art – how?

The author does not leave us with a load of ideas and no clear path to develop. We are given advice on how to show our pieces off, how to care for them and how to present them.

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch containers
What to display our outcomes in


We enjoyed the way the book has isolated fragments by the use of focused imagery and white backgrounds:

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch fragments
white backgrounds

The stylisation of certain pages gives the book finesse’. We liked these Boro samples, which have been published in square boxes.

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch boro

What makes The Book Special?

It is certainly not a book to pass off as one which is of little interest if you have read others involving themes you come across inside this book too. The artist here presents a contemporary look at this subject, very much for today.

Shelley Rhodes Fragmentation and Repair slow stitch weathering
Said before, seen before, not in this way

Anything wrong with the book?

If you enjoy traditional embroidery , you may not feel inclined to read this book. However we ask you to at least look through.


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