New blog will come out slightly late in October (about the 25th) since my husband's health has deteriorated some, and I've also had a number of funerals to attend. But I'm back on track! This business is my saving grace!
JULY/AUGUST BLOG 2019
WE ARE CHARTING A NEW COURSE
The world is changing very rapidly. It always has and always will. The internet has changed the way we do business: shopping centers are closing, main anchor stores like Sears, Kmart, and many others are teetering on extinction. The book business is changing too. With Amazon on-line, book stores have closed also. Jeff Bezos offers deep discounts to book buyers that stores and myself can't compete with. Publishing Houses are competing with many self-published authors published with the help of Amazon and others. Even a number printed magazines are failing. That's reality.
Change is change. And we have to change with it. I've been in the book business for over 28 years and seen these changes arriving one after another. So I have had to change too. I love books and this business. What I once did on paper I now do on this blog; bringing books and news to my wonderful book friends (I hate the word customers!). It has surprised me how many followers follow this blog - thousands - yet the sales of new needlework books has steadily declined over the last two years while the reader level has risen. Why? The books are being bought on Amazon at a deep discount. I offer 20% but I can't do more and make a living. I have made a decision to focus on out-of-print books which I are doing fine.
I am not closing my business - I am moving with the changes in retail. I will happily still take orders for any new needlework book you want at the usual 20% discount and locate any book you want but this blog will change. I spend countless hours, researching new books, planning this blog out, finding photos of the book covers, etc. and doing articles. I love the whole process but unfortunately I need to earn a living and so I must change the direction of this business once again. This breaks my heart but I could not figure another way to make it. I hope you all will understand.
Starting with the next blog I will feature new books but the blog will concentrate on out-of-print books (this includes older, classic needlepoint book authors such as Jean Hilton, Michele Roberts, Carole Lake, Jane Zimmerman, Alison Cole and many others) instead and I will include articles on these authors and other interesting information about the art of needlework.
But for now enjoy this blog (as before ) and please stay tuned for more on our new direction.
AND DON'T FORGET TO USE YOUR 20% DISCOUNT ON ANY NEW BOOK IN THIS ISSUE OR PAST ISSUES!
PERCEPTION: We Create Our Own World In the Midst of Everyone Else's or "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder"
"What is behind your eyes holds more power than what is in front of them." - Gary Zukav -
Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, after reading a number of books on the subject, I'd like to add, "Life, too, is in the eye of the beholder, and each of us is the architect of our own life. You know, the old question: is the glass half full or half empty. It seems our perceptions of what's around us color everything for the good or the bad. We get a taste of someone else's perception of this world when we look at a painting, listen to music, read a book, and of course, our needlework. If you design your own patterns or pick out your own colors - what pleases you, what you see as delicious colors is your perception of beautiful. Someone might wrinkle a nose at what you've done and another might love it. But go for your own perception. Whoever thought that paint splashed on large canvases would be considered "art"? Yet, Pollack did something he wanted to do and took the art world by storm. And think of Andy Warhol. Who could imagine painted giant soup cans would be bought for millions? And think of
inventors. Edison had visions of lighting the entire world at night and after many, many failures and lots of nay sayers, Edison trudged stubbornly on and did it. We now live in his world. So trust your instincts and perceptions.
I read this about Jim Lowell, one of our adventurous astronauts. He said, "The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at earth from the moon, and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the earth beneath your thumb. Everything you've ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather ordinary star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy." He is so right. But we less adventurous souls here on earth with that in mind need to learn how our perception works here on earth.
Our eyes are cameras that allow us to see the world and our brain interprets all the eyes are focused on. That creates our perception. Other people will see the same thing entirely differently. That is why five witnesses at an accident scene will see different things, making "eye" witnesses not the most reliable sources. Why? Think about optical illusions. They mess with our brains. What you think you know and what you perceive is split. As Al Seckel says in his wonderful book, Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception, listed below, when there is not enough information, or the information seems in conflict with what you see, our brains can't sort it out correctly, the brain fails us. Psychologists know that it is a fact that a person's perception can be "primed" in a particular direction. What is priming? That happens
|Do you see figures or objects or both?|
when you engage in a familiar activity that is so familiar when you are asked to do a variation (ever so slight) an error will occur. May I mention driving and using a cell phone? We get so used to driving (or bored) we think (in error) that we can do other things at the same time. I've even seen a lady knitting as she drove. She really perceived she could do that! What was she thinking (or not thinking)? Her perception and those who drive and use cellphones can bring tragedy to themselves or others.
But creativity is another world. Think of a piece of paper or fabric. Whether we're an artist or needleworker, the main idea is to transform something three-dimensional to that two-dimensional flat material and make it LOOK three-dimensional so we have the illusion of being real flowers, a scene, animal or person. We know in our heads how it should look but how do we transfer that to a flat surface? That takes, as my grandmother would say, "patience and perseverance." A great example of how to stop thinking incorrectly and start really seeing is to use your visual brain. Carl Purcell, in his book, Drawing with Your Artist's Brain, says, enjoy the scenery, view the world in terms of shapes and edges, tie everything together with unifying value patterns." He also says, "see values correctly, search for relationships of angle, size and position, define form with line and explore the relationship between objects and space, tie everything together with value and patterns."Molly Ban, in Picture This: How Pictures Work, takes a picture to the basics of shapes and is able to make us feel the emotion she wants us to feel. In pictures and words she shows us how shapes make us perceive things in a certain way.
Isn't all this necessary for designing needlework too? The Needlework Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen ($35.00) has a short chapter on design and briefly goes into perception and gives us a peek into what needs to be done to get the design right. She lists questions to ask ourselves, questions to help us put what we want to accomplish with a design in good order so we don't give up and thrown it into the UFO (unfinished objects) drawer. Such questions as: What is the subject matter? What is the shape of the piece to be? What is the focal point? Do you like realistic or decorative? Do you want shadows? She even gets into the language of the line. Her book introduces us to how getting a three-dimensional feel out of a design on a flat fabric.
Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, great teachers, and authors of many wonderful needlework books are masters of perception. In their book, Location, Location: Sources of Design, they include a chapter on Learning to Look. They remind us to: look up, look ahead, look to the right and then the left, look down, look through, look closely. They say, "Harnessing passion and discipline in order to focus your looking takes time and practice." Then you can truly sketch the wonderful design you have in your head.
I confess, my own world and creativity is always developing. I love what I do (books, needlework, writing) and I don't want to lose this in my life. Whenever I reach a wall I can't seem to climb over or knock down because something has changed, I stop and write down how I want something to turn out. I've found putting my thoughts on paper makes what I am doing real. Of course, I make to-do lists (when I don't -ohh-ohh - things go haywire!). I also ask myself a load of questions: Do I need an attitude adjustment? Is my work reflecting what I feel about it? Or am I using bits and pieces of advice from people or books that are good for them but wrong for me? For me, it's really important to have what I call, "thinking time". I clear part of my day or evening to take apart something in my business, my writing, or even my life. The scariest question I ask me is: Am I afraid to express my real self because I might get criticized? We all hate criticism and such things as, "THEY are more knowledgeable than I am, pass through our brains. But do they? Hmm. They have only THEIR perceptions to go by. Boy, fear can stop us right in our tracks from trying something new. Don't give up on creating. I confess. I did that once. The only thing that accomplished was that I stopped doing what I loved to do best.
In needlework we worry over whether we've used the "correct" stitches. Fear of that can make us put the project aside. Jean Hilton applauded her own mistakes and her students'. She says in her book, Stimulating Stitches, a classic needlepoint book ($29.95), "Please note I have put quotes around the word "mistake", to stress that when errors happen you can often make something new and different out of that error that can lead to a new combination of colors and fibers, to a new pattern of stitches or to a new way of thinking." That's the power of perception: it is not written in stone, it opens our minds as we search for what we want to create. As a child, Jean said she was often told, "stop and think" which created an analytical personality. Her philosophy "what if" she goes on to say, "the thrust of this long introduction is to get you to open up your mind to see new possibilities with your stitching." Let us remember to, like Jean, have a flexible attitude about something different, try it out and see if it works for you. Her "stop and think" is very similar to my "thinking time" so I relate strongly to Jean's encouraging us to enlarge our perceptions of what works and doesn't work. When I get really stuck or make "mistake" in my writing I pull out Jean's introduction and reread it and other books that break what I call my "stinky" thinking. (Discount code: 19AUG).
Yes, beauty IS in the eye of the beholder (or creator). I've included a list of books that help us to see the world clearer, our work clearer and our needlework clearer.
Arnheim, Rudolf - Visual Thinking -35th Anniversary Edition - Since this book made its appearance it has been the gold standard for art educators, psychologist, and general readers alike. Arnheim asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual, a dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading. $29.95
Bang, Molly - Picture This: How Pictures Work - This author's brilliant, insightful, and accessible treatise is now revised and expanded for its 25th anniversary. Bang's powerful ideas - about how the visual composition of images used in elements of an artwork can give it the power to tell a story - remains unparalleled in their simplicity and genius. Why are diagonals dramatic? Why are curves calming? This book has changed the way artists, illustrators, reviewers, critics, and readers look at and understand art. $28.99
Herman, Amy - Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life - This book by Amy Herman, a well-known art historian has trained experts from many fields to perceive and communicate better. By showing people how to improve their "visual intelligence", a set of skills we all possess but few of us know how to use effectively. She has spent more than a decade teaching doctors to observe patients instead of just listening to symptoms, investigators separate facts from opinions when investigating a crime, and training professionals from the FBI, the State Department, Fortune 500 companies, and more. She teaches you how to recognize the talents, opportunities, and dangers that surround you every day. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on Amy! Fascinating! $15.99
Purcell, Carl - Your Artist's Brain: Use the Right Side of Your Brain to Draw and Paint What You See - Not What You Think You See - Carl Purcell teaches us to overcome dependency on the "intellectual brain" and listen carefully to the more observant "artist's brain to become a better artist, no matter what your medium. He includes 22 step-by-step demonstrations on key
relationships between shapes, spaces, subjects, backgrounds, angles, sizes, values and more. Easy examples and fun exercises teaches you how to "see" and design great compositions, "Points to Remember" sidebars that allow you to quickly grasp each concept. Have fun! $26.99
Secket, Al - Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception - This book is mind-bending, fun, and eye-opening and shows how our perceptions can be tricked. There is a good combination of photographs, paintings, a drawings - 275 in all that give our brains a run for their money. All images are individually explained and includes notes about the science of visual perception. $24.95
POTPOURRI OF NEW BOOKS
Bothell, Valerie - Embroidery Combinations Perpetual Calendar - Enjoy the largest collection of embroidery seams inspiration ever published in a perpetual calendar that includes 365 crazy-quilting designs from best-selling author Valerie Bothell.
Each inspirational photo is labeled with the embroidery stitches used, so you can easily recreate the designs. This sturdy, spiral-bound calendar is built to last for years and the handy easel design stands upright on your work surface. $19.95
Eaton, Jan - Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches: The Classic Guide Revised - Hello there! A classic brought back. This is the new, redesigned edition includes the internationally renowned embroiderer Jan Eaton's revisions to the original text, and includes a preface by embroiderer Mary Corbet. Over 400 stitches explained and illustrated with diagrams and photos. 14 stitch categories, including outline stitches, filling stitches, canvas stitches, and insertion stitches shown in 800 color photos. You can't go wrong with having this stitch reference book on your book shelf. $29.95
Hislop, Amanda - Seascapes - This is a wonderful reference tool for all textile artists, whatever their skill level. Featuring original projects, practical and enjoyable design exercises, and extensive sections on composition and mark-making, this instructional guide is full of great ideas for a stunning selection of fabric and stitch scenes that culminate in four incredible step-by-step projects. Full instruction for all the techniques used. How great to see inside a textile artist's head and see how she thinks designing through. $24.95
Kapitanski, Jessica Sallie - Create with Cork Fabric: Sew 17 Upscale Projects: Bags, Accessories and Home Décor - Elevate your sewing with a bagmaker's secret - cork fabric! Learn how easy it is to work with cork from the innovative designer behind Sallie Tomato patterns. Sew seventeen projects from purses and pouches to gorgeous accessories and home décor. Using only regular sewing tools, you'll love adding cork fabric accents to everything. Cork comes in a rainbow of colors, and it's eco-friendly, maintenance-free, pliable, and hypoallergenic - making it the irresistible choice for all sorts of handmade gifts. $24.95
Lyne, Sonia - Mini Hoop Embroidery: Over 60 Little Masterpieces to Stitch and Wear - With this author's previous experience in the fashion industry, working as a pattern-maker, assistant stylist, buyer, Sonia had the eye and creativity to not only start designing her own embroideries but to create teeny tiny embroidery hoops so we could create our own small-scale embroidery projects. In this book she brings us 20 tiny masterpieces in a wide range of embroidery styles from classic embroidered flowers and applique animals, to abstract stitch 'n' paint shapes and tasseled stitch art and turn it into wearable jewellery, necklaces, brooches and more. $15.95
Schaefer, Sylvia - The Quilter's Negative Space Handbook: Step-by-Step Design Instruction and 8 Modern Projects - Break down the process of modern quilt design with a scientific approach to design principles. Applying the concept of negative space in 8 key ways, you'll be able to transform them into modern masterpieces, step-by-step. Each chapter teaches skills, such as removing elements or disintegration, with a quilt project and tips on piecing, choosing fabrics, and machine quilting for an artistic finish.
This next book has nothing to do with needlework but is so beautiful I had to include it and is something I wish I had time to do.
Brown, Cassie - The Kew Book of Sugar Flowers - Just look at this book's cover and you will see why I had to include it. What do they say? A picture is worth a 1000 words. In this gorgeous book, sugarcraft specialist Cassie Brown, teaches you how to craft stunning, authentic-looking flowers and foliage using sugar to create beautiful bouquets and stunning sprays, from the early stages of germinating your ideas - taking inspiration from nature and making molds from real flowers into decorations with an exotic or wild flower theme for a special occasion. $24.95
Now Back to Business!!
Smith, Rebekah L. and Kelsey Anilee Smith - Exploring Folk Art with Wool Applique and More - Elevate your wool applique! Stitch sixteen projects in the American folk-art style, from heartfelt home décor to handy sewing accessories. They include heartfelt home décor to handy sewing accessories. Each project combines wool applique with a traditional handwork skill: embroidery, rug hooking, punch needle, yarn sewing, quilting, cross-stitch, or dimensional mohair. Learn from the authors and their fellow folk artist friends as they collaborate on these creative projects and share expert tips and tricks. Enjoy the gorgeous gallery of fiber folk art. $24.95
Thompson, Meghan - Whimsical Felt Embroidery - Meghan Thompson is the founder of Olive and Fox (an on-line Etsy shop). With step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you, it is easy to create colorful llamas, elephants and other animal projects that you'll want to display on your walls. She also includes such fun foodie sayings as: "Donut Worry" or "Love You a Latte" as well as floral-inspired designs. Templates are included for her felt embroidery, incorporating fun fabrics that add dimension and texture to hoop art and bring projects to life. $21.99
A FEW WORDS ABOUT PINCUSHIONS
|IS THIS CUTE OR WHAT!|
stem. My other pincushion I still have was personally made by my grandmother. It is a small dome-shaped affair with a metal trim around the base that is covered with a narrow decorative trim. Not exciting but a perfectly good pincushion.
Most pincushions are strictly functional but during my research I discovered there was a time when some pincushions were purely decorative. Someone had the idea of taking straight pins of varying sizes and push them all the way into the cushion and arrange the pins in decorative patterns to mimic fine silver embroidery. I used to make my initials with pins in my pincushions. Some clear cushions were decorated the same way and these pin cushion-bottom seats had their moment of fame. I couldn't uncover and proof that these chair seats are still being made or that pincushions are still decorated like that. Does anybody reading this know?
|Queen Eliz I Pincushion|
In the sixteenth and seventeenth century pincushions were known as "pyn-pyllows to stycke pynnes." Were these the first pincushions as we now know them? Or had this handy accessory been invented much earlier. There is no information at this time as to the actual date of their invention but I can't imagine not having some sort of a gizmo at my side to keep pins handy and safe.
Pincushions have been made of all types of fabric imaginable. I even found examples of knitted and crocheted ones. Now we are back to the nagging question of what's inside a pincushion other
|WOW! THESE PINCUSHIONS ARE GORGEOUS!|
I've included some neat books on making pincushions so have fun perusing them and possibly making a pincushion of your own.
Annie's - Pincushions and More - Annie's is part of the third-generation Muselman family business, founded in 1925 and long known for original craft designs including crochet, knitting, card making, and paper crafts. In this book discover the joy of making small useful projects from your stash and gifting them to others who share your love of sewing and quilting. Lots of inspiration here to create 13 unique pincushions and three needlebooks. Templates are given on a 30x21inch insert. $9.99
C and T - Make Pincushions: 12 Darling Projects to Sew - Upgrade from the basic tomato with a pincushion that's sure to put a smile on your face! Sew 10 playful patterns from top designers, from 3D shapes to techniques-like applique, embroidery, and piecing- in this value packed booklet. You can adapt these ideas and make more pincushions. For example, the cupcake could be adapted into dozens of pincushions. Each pincushion is designed by a different designer. The instructions are clear and the book includes wonderful photographs. $12.95
Czepuryk, Kristyne - Perfectly Pretty Patchwork: Classic Quilts, Pillows, Pincushions and More - When it comes to classic quilt blocks, think beyond the quilt! Sew timeless blocks into beautiful quilts; then feature the same block into accessories. Eight quilts include a sunny mini-quilt, a decorative throw, a Dresden-inspired wall quilt, and a Flying Geese baby quilt. Eight sewing projects include: pincushions, a circular purse, and a petite pouch. Packed with tips for quiltmakers who are new to sewing dimensional items. Have fun! $25.99
Hoey, Aneela - Stitched Sewing Organizers: Pretty cases, Boxes, Pouches, Pincushions and More - Celebrate and use your sewing skills with this author's 15 stylish yet functional patterns for a wide variety of sewing organizers. The patterns are designed to work together, so small projects fit into larger ones. There is information on installing zippers, alternative fastenings, dewing with vinyl, making three-dimensional shapes, and the different types of interfacings that can be used. The basic techniques section is comprehensive, so there's no need to be daunted by the detailed finishes on the projects. $26.95
THANKS FOR VISITING US
If this was your first visit I'd like to introduce you to our book business of over 26 years. During this time we've set up many bookshops for the ANG and EGA seminars and a variety of other needlework organizations as well as doing this blog.
Can't find a certain book? Please give us a call and we'll go to work to find it for you whether it is in-print or out-of- print.
Call us Monday thru Saturday; at: 602-943-0738. If you get the dreaded message machine please don't be shy about leaving a message. I'll get back to you ASAP. Or you can e-mail me at: email@example.com. Or mail your order to: Ruth Kern Books 7235 N. 9th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
MOST IMPORTANT! Remember to look for the discount code hidden somewhere in this blog that gives you a 20% discount on any new book you order from this blog or the previous ones.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOU COMING BACK AND VISITING US AGAIN.