The art of the cloth front cover

The Art Is the Cloth: How to Look at and Understand Tapestries

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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Here we will discuss ‘The Art Is The Cloth: How to Loot at and Understand Tapestries’ which has been published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

About the author

We learn that she studied Tapestries for many years and was successful at exhibiting her own. This allows her to speak with conviction about the thematic content of this book. She also teaches the subject and lectures all over the world.

Who Is This Book Aimed At?

Those who have a serious interest in Tapestries. This is not a book for the casual crafter, rather it has a serious tone which needs respected.


The contents page outlines the sections found within:

The art is the cloth content

The titles evoke the serious undertone of this book. Before we go any further, be warned that this is not a how to or instruction manual, it is a book for a table, a point of historical education, with detailed information.

There are some lovely examples of the craft form:

The art is the cloth two page
two page spread

As you can see, every illustrated cloth has a detailed title. If one was studying this craft as a degree or ma subject, we imagine this to be helpful.

So what is this book really about? What is its purpose?

We see it as an educational guide, on how to read and relate to tapestries. This is vital when studying these artworks. When we can understand the meaning behind an artwork, we come to a deeper and greater appreciation of it. No longer a surface view which we may pass over.

We will learn some basics about the art form of weaving to deepen our learning of what we see.

Within the book, seven areas have been chosen to help us decipher themes and styles within the cloth. This is helpful when we then go to visit art galleries and museums. It will make our visits more satisfying and fun too, as we will ‘get’ what we are looking at.


The illustrations are sublime throughout. The images are shown in a variety of sizes and layouts:

The art is the cloth images
well placed images
The art of the cloth portrait
Portraits are just one of the genres you will find
The art of the cloth samples
Could this inspire you?

Looking at the art work we see documented throughout the publication, we note how inspirational it could be for any textile artist. Maybe you are embroidery based and are all things ‘needle’ like us here at Mr X Stitch. If so, it could inspire you pictorially.

What Makes This Book Special?

It is a high class publication within its category.

Although we are looking at this with a more Textiles and embroidery perspective at Mr X Stitch , we do appreciate its worth.

The art of the cloth special bits
inspired to embroider?

Above we see two illustrations found together in this book. We enjoyed the variety of examples. Certainly not a dry boring publication, it truly does what it has set out to do….show the art of the cloth, how tapestry really is an art form. The modern examples and those a little different will excite the keen artist.

Maybe if you are not into tapestry weaving as a skill, you will appreciate the visual feeding and be able to translate the inspiring visuals into your own craft, i.e. stitched textiles or maybe mixed media.

Anything Wrong With The Book?

As we have discussed, this is not a book for the casual crafter who has no depth of interest. This is a book to respect, a little like a dictionary.


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