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 of Stitchcraft: An Embroidery Book of Simple Stitches and Peculiar Patterns by Gayla Partridge, published by Blue Star Press.
A softback publication, Stitchcraft is both macabre and enticing; floral with an eerie edge. It is image led, relying on a sublime portrayal of images to catch our eye. The author Gayla Partridge uses her knowledge of the human form to create a unique book which seems to marry our curiosity with a timeless Halloween theme. From snakes to bones – just don’t try stitching this one in the dark!
About The Author
Who is Gayla? She certainly has Fine Art as a key skill, having studied it at university. She taught herself to embroider, yet surprise, surprise her strongpoint within creativity is photography – you will see this for yourself visually when you get your hands on a copy of this book. It is certainly a blessing for us!
Who Is This Book Aimed At?
This publication is certainly more niche in its thematic content. It is suitable for all skill levels, the author having taught herself to embroider makes her understanding of those newly acquainted with the skill strong. Whatever your interest in embroidery, visually it is bound to inspire you in some way. For those who are looking for more than your standard fashion type embroidery book – this makes a great step away and also serves as a conversation starter should you go leaving it lying around.
In brief, Stitchcraft features thirty intricate pieces, designed using a combination of nine basic stitches. We may touch on this later in our review, but this is important as the author is self-taught. Thus the nine basic stitches are part of their education to themselves too. This makes us warm to Gayla straight away – she is one of us.
Subject matter ranges from the anatomy of snakes to a threaded Virgin Mary. Those reading this unique publication will find that they are actively encouraged to make their own versions; this is no copy and paste tutorial tome, this is one for us to embroider.
Contents list wise, we are granted two pages of columns listing what we will find. There’s the usual introduction…yet that is where the word ‘usual’ becomes lacking in requirement – this book is nothing like the usual! Are we tempting you yet?
Sections are divided off clearly with a little information in black and white along with large up close imagery. This makes the publication easy to follow.
We will delve into each section further, however you will come across many images like this one, all on different subjects of course! The visual side of this book is massive, its eye-joy to the max. We loved the coupling of the subject matter, i.e. a lamp with a meaty edge, yet all set out in a beautiful floral way.
We see this as the obvious strong point when reviewing this publication. It is predominately a image led book – even those who find the subject matter too niche for their own preference cannot doubt the quality of the visual here. There are both whole project images along with close ups so we see the stitches.
One of the more unusual designs shown off. So, the question is – will you be photographing your own set of nashers to make this embroidery project personal to you?!
The close ups highlight the authors use of stitches – they look beautiful, yet they are not overly complex – we can manage these ones!
What Makes This Book Special?
Really it is the subject matter. It was a risk for the author – she must have gone into this book knowing it may be a marmite matter – certainly not universally pleasing! Yet we find it addictive.
We wondered why the photos are really such a saturated part of this book – well – we get our answer right at the beginning. As well as Fine Art this author is an experienced Photographer. Although she has not been the photographer here – we are sure she must have had creative control!
Anything Wrong With The Book?
We think it is worth noting that there are no step-by-step instructions or embroidery stitch diagrams. Yet they are not complex to learn, so if you are able to access the internet, just search and learn the stitches separately. If you are a seasoned embroiderer’ then you will not notice this lack. This may seem like an educational gap within this publication, however on the other hand the author encourages us to create our own path, to have creative control, which is better for us in the long run as it encourages us to grow as creative artists.
Really it comes down to personal preference. Some may find this book too dark in subject matter, too different to identify with.
Having said that, we loved it! We recommend at least having a read of it – if it is not for you, we believe you will at least be inspired by the colour and bountiful stitches captured so sublimely.
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