Friday, 18 February 2011

Machine Stitch Perspectives

I got this book for Christmas (or birthday? Hard to tell the difference for me, gg), and I’ve just finished reading it. Yes, I actually read every word, unlike most of my textile books where the pictures are enough. And yes, since you ask - it was worth it! I’ve taken it slowly, trying to squeeze the maximum from it and resisting the temptation to skim for once.

It’s a fascinating study of the different sewing/embroidery machines, historical and modern, showing how they’ve been used both in industry and by artists. Not too much looking back though, and a bearable amount of art-speak. The main thing that comes over is the huge potential of machine embroidery as an expressive medium. Definitely not a “how-to” or project book – which makes a very refreshing change, for me.

Edited by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating, each chapter is by a different machine stitch expert. There are really inspiring chapters exploring stitched text, mark making, textured surfaces, issues-based work etc. Michael Brennand Wood’s chapter on “random precision” expresses what I try to do in my work much better than I ever can.

It’s very much a Manchester Metropolitan University (formerly Manchester Poly) book, drawing heavily on their enviable collection of machines and archive of embroidery. So occasionally you do wonder if there are better examples elsewhere, but not too often - the book is crammed with photos of wonderful art, fashion, and samples that you’re unlikely to have seen before unless you were lucky enough to be let loose at MMU yourself!

Highly recommended. And you can see for yourself – Amazon has LOTS of the pages on its “Look Inside”.


Gina said...

I bought myself this as a late christmas present. I had a quick skim through but decided it needed reading properly. I'm glad you've confirmed that... and that it will be worth it!

Carrie said...

I think Alice Kettle teaches at Manchester Uni. It's been on my wish list since it came out, it looks like a great resource for inspiration.