Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Needlework Books


                "A House without Books is like a room without windows."

                                                   - Henry Ward Beecher -

 Welcome to our blog site.

October 5th 2013 - This is our first of many, many blogs to come. This blog will be published on the 5th of each month, and will be very similar to Needle News except each blog will be shorter since our printed newsletter was quarterly BUT new information will get to you faster.

We invite you to join in with comments, reviews, and stories of your needlework with pictures too.  This is YOUR blog and we want to carry what you want to read.
Want to order?  It's easy!  Call 1-800-429-5075 or e-mail to:   or send your order to: Ruth Kern Book  P.O. Box 35366, Phoenix, AZ 85069.  We accept checks, Visa, Master Card, Discover, or American Express.   



Fall brings new books - I've included new titles for you to peruse.  Enjoy!
Sacket, Al - Master of Deception - Rings of seahorses that seem to rotate on the page, butterflies that transform right before your eyes into two warriors with their horses, a mosaic portrait of oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau made from seashells and more. These dazzling and often playful artists creations manipulate perspective so cleverly that they simply outwit our brains: we can't just take a quick glance and turn away.  (code NN1O13) They compel us to look once, twice and over and over again as we try to figure out exactly how the delightful trickery manages to fool our perceptions so completely. Of course, first and foremost, every piece is beautiful on the surface, but each one offers us so much more. From Escher's famous and elaborate "Waterfall" to Shigeo Fukuida's "Mary Poppins" where a heap of bottles, glasses, shakers, and openers somehow turn into the image of a Belle Epoque woman when the spotlight hits them, these works of genius will provide endless enjoyment.  I'm hooked on this book!   $17.95
Sabuda, Robert - The Little Mermaid Pop-Up - All of you that know me know I love pop-up books. Robert Sabuda is the king of pop-ups along with his partner Matthew Reinhart. I've been waiting for Robert's new book since I read about it last year. Come along on a magical journey under the sea and discover amazing three-dimensional paper engineering that brings this famous tale to life.  It is due out October 1st.  $29.99 

Graham, Leslie McCallum - 5000 Flower & Plant Motifs - With so many floral and plant motifs to choose from this resource is a perfect source of inspiration to all kinds of creative worker, graphic designers, stitchers, and more. The hand-drawn designs include many historical styles, border motifs, and simple and elaborate plant compositions. All are included with a CD.  $24.95 

Issett, Ruth - A Passion for Color - This authority on color now brings us a new book in which we are taken on her journey of exploring color through paper, print, fabric, threads, and stitch. This inspirational guide is suitable for textile artists, designers, and everyone who loves color.  $25.00 
Grant, Diane - Canvas Work Stitches: For Adventurous Embroiderers Book Two: Square Herringbone Stitch and Florentine Embroider - In this book Diane describes her journey into canvas work and she encourages readers to experiment with both the square herringbone stitch and florentine embroidery. All her projects have full instructions. She uses vibrant colored threads inspired by leaves, flowers, butterflies, feathers and shells as well as using surface embellishments such as using buttons, beads and jewels. Readers will also learn how to color their own canvas and dye their own threads. Since 1993 Diane has specialized in designing needlepoint using a great variety of threads as well as using embellishments. She loves teaching as much as designing. In case you were wondering about her first book she is in the process of reprinting it. This second book is $39.95

Lee, Margaret - The Art of Chinese Embroidery - This book is by one of the world's leading teachers of oriental embroidery. She presents this book so you feel you have her teaching you in your living room. There are seven projects presented that are meticulously designed using full color photos and step-by-step stitch instructions. Included are perforated full size patterns- no resizing required. $44.95

Taylor, Linsay - Embroidered Art - Inspired by her love of nature, this talented needleworker moulds, sculpts, weaves, and entwines, hand-dyed natural fabrics into three-dimensional works of art. Employing a variety of techniques, including free-machine embroidery, hand embroidery, painting, dyeing, quilting, felting, beading, wirework, and applique, she recreates items such as bags, shoes, gowns, hats, even cups and lampshades in organic form. The book is devoted to her needleart.  She is definitely an original!  $50.00 

Harris, Carina Envoldson - Stitched Blooms - This is one part project book and one part resource guide.  These stitched flowers will be the go-to-collection of floral embroidery motifs for today's stitchers. The 300 designs run the gamut from classic flowers to folkart leaves and borders and the accompanying CD offers you more possiblities. Use them on the 20 featured projects, including a blouse, Swediah stuffed horse toy, girl's skirt and much more. Beginners and experienced embroiderers will appreciate the basics section, as well as the in-depth review of each stitch, and the useful motif reference.  $16.95 

Marsden, Alysn Midgelow - This Lustr'ed Cloth: A Fiber Artist's Workbook of Metals -  This book takes a journey into metals and new directions for textile artists in their constant quest for intriguing surfaces. Progress through a wide variety of structural resilient and elegant possibilities beyond those of conventional fabrics. Color distress, tarnish, gloss, illuminate, burnish, bent, crush, twist, entwine, construct, form, adhere, apply embellish, and enjoy a wider playground with textiles  $19.95 

Smith, Susan - Embellish, Stitch, Felt: Using the Embellisher Machine and needle-Punch Techniques - This felting expert teaches how to take every day cloth, shoes, and hats to a new level with her fabulous mess-free ( I drink to that!) felting techniques. She opens up a range of felt ideas for textile artists. Learn to recycle fabrics using hand held needlepoint to build up layers of color with an embellisher machine.  The projects include a 'glazed chintz' bag, colorful, patchwork pillows, and much more. There are instructions on coloring and dyeing fabrics, creating and using texture, working in three dimensions, and even creating your own cloth.  $ 29.95 By the way, Susan did the best-selling book, Felt to Stitch that is still available.


Congratulations Sandy Arthur!
Sandy's Shapes of Needlepoint bestselling series has won the coveted ANG Literary Award 2013. This award is only given when the American Needlepoint Guild discovers what they appraise as "a significant contribution to the field of needlepoint". There are four marvelous books in Sandy's award-winning series - the fourth just out in September 2013. 
  Shapes of Needlepoint

Series I: This book covers triangles, circles, squares and rectangles,  $39.95

  Shapes of Needlepoint

Series II: This volume covers diamonds, harts, octagons, stars.  $44.95

Shapes of Needlepoint

Series III: In this book Sandy covers corners, hexagons, ovals, parallelograms. $44.95

Shapes of Needlepoint
Series IV: This latest book covers diagonals, horizontals, verticals.  $48.95

Photography and Needlework - Two Arts That Definitely Belong Together
I had an AHA moment when I viewed the needlework photography by Richard Holdsworth, husband of Jacqueline Holdsworth in England. Jacqueline's name is very familiar to sampler and needlework lovers. She is a great sampler historian, teacher and publisher. Richard's respect for historical needlework and his passion for photography shines through in two fabulous needlework books that belong in all needlework library - Michael &Elizabeth Feller: The Needlework Collection Vol. I - $85.00 and Volume II - $140.00. True the books are not inexpensive but use the code(NN1013) and get 20% off these or any other books you want until the November blog is published.

What has photography to do with stitching? Much time goes into designing and stitching a needlework piece. Some are framed and hung on the wall, others are buried under stuff in a drawer to be forgotten for years. Without a photograph of it or information such as who made it, the date completed and other documentation, who will ever know who too the time to create something beautiful? Those who inherit your needlework will want to know the story of that family heirloom. Look at all the little girls in needlework history who stitched samplers at school or at home. They had no idea their painstaking needlework would be so famous and valuable today. Someday the stitching we do today will be centuries old and fascinating to the generations to come. 

Meanwhile enjoy the wonderful article Richard wrote when I asked him for an interview after my AHA moment about photography and needlework. He beautifully ties together the art of photography and the art of the needle. He makes this one-of-a-kind fabulous private collection come to life. Thanks to his great eye for photography this vast and rare collection of needlework we can visit this great collection at home and experience it fully.  That's why I treasure my own set. 
Thank you, thank you Richard for capturing this collection in photos. The close-ups of the stitches leap off the pages.

In the Beginning...................................
My early interest in black and white photography meant that I was a great admirer of Ansell Adams. But who isn't? I liked his work so much that I felt inspired to specialize in monochrome printing in my spare time. I got hooked and, despite the smell of chemicals, spent many years in my bedroom darkroom.
There is something very compelling about wanting to make that "perfect print" and even when it sometimes took 2 days to get it (with quite a full waste paper bin), it didn't seem to matter. I continued to work solely without colour, trying all the time to hone my skills, and after becoming a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, I continued this fine art hobby in my own studio.

What better way to start one's retirement.
Perfect timing.......
But just as I felt I was mastering film and darkroom development, the world went digital and colourful in a big way. Almost overnight it seemed that everyone could produce wonderful images in just a fraction of the time I used to take without long exposures to noxious chemicals. But the Black and White darkroom processing was still very satisfying and I couldn't really see any good reason to go digital or move to colour. Anyway, what was wrong with being a film dinosaur?
But then Jacqueline made me an offer ........
While I was closeted away in my darkroom, Jacqueline was developing her own Needleprint business. We often swapped noted, but I realized we might end up working together when I saw that her website very soon had over a million "hits". Her passion for researching and sharing information about samplers had caught the attention of many people all over the world who were now being given access to a new wealth of information..... and images. After a visit to see Michael and Elizabeth Feller, she suggested I could help by taking a few photographs of their samplers. "They are a lovely couple and have some very special samplers."
It was only after agreeing to take some digital photos that the "few" turned out to be rather an understatement as there are more like 500 samplers in what is one of the most amazing private collections in the world.
No problem then?
........ 500 samplers, all behind glass, ranging in size from very small to 6 feet long, plus detail.
Jacqueline had decided the collection was so important that it deserved to be published in it entirety and was determined that the reader should see not only the samplers, but also the all-important detail within them which would not be visible to the naked eye. With so many samplers, it was originally thought that there would need to be 3 volumes but to make it easier to acquire, she finally decided on 2 volumes, (although very large ones) and all the images are contained in the two volumes.
What you see is what you get so much so much more.
Michael and Elizabeth's collection is privately displayed in their country house and it will not surprise you to learn that as you walk down their corridors to admire the samplers hanging on the walls, you have to work hard to see the fine detail and colour. The lighting is subdued in order to protect the samplers and it is thrilling to see them all, but it presents an interesting challenge to the viewer.
Jacqueline therefore needed them photographed in such a way as to reveal their full beauty ..... so what you see in the books surpasses what can be seen first-hand.
The glass, the glass ........
If you ever tried to photograph something behind glass, you know exactly what the problems are. I remember seeing a photograph of a sampler where the colours seemed a bit confusing. It was an old, framed sampler with a rather modern tartan pattern across it. I'm sure the photographer liked his tartan jumper but the rest of us couldn't appreciate it as much.
Reflections can be a nightmare, so the first task is always to clean the glass. What would be the right moment to ask Elizabeth to clean the glass on the sampler? I mean clean the glass on the 500 samplers.
Make-shift bedroom studio ......
It subsequently took 3 weeks to photograph everything and we dared not ask how long it took to put the samplers back on the walls. Only 1/125th second to take each photograph, but an awfully long time with the rest of the preparations.
Michael let us use one of his bedrooms as a studio, but I suspect the fetching and carrying was rather more demanding. And we shouldn't forget the on-the-job cataloguing too. It's perhaps not surprising that you need the most accurate of records when photographing such a large collection. And we did have a few moments when we looked at a blown-up image of a very small sampler fragment and wondered from which sampler it came.
Camera kit
"I've not had much success with my photos, so do you have a camera that takes good ones?" ... over heard in many a camera shop.
It happens I've been using a Minolta film camera for so many years so when I bought a digital camera body, I chose a Minolta (now Sony) so I could continue to use some of the interchangeable lenses. But it doesn't really matter about the make. The quality of the lens is perhaps more important, so if you want to be able to photograph the thread detail, a good quality lens will help to give a sharp image, particularly after it has been enlarged.
I mainly use a Sigma APO 7 - 200 mm f/2 8 Ex DG lens positioned on the opposite side of the room from the easel and for the close-up shots a Tamron 90mm Macro lens just a foot or so in front of the easel.
It's worth remembering, however, that the quality of the lighting also has a big effect on the quality of the final images, so the softboxes were very important too.
The 6 foot challenge
In the second volume of the collection are images of the 6 foot long sampler representing parts of Psalms 115-119. This sampler is hung at the bottom of a staircase and it's impossible to photograph it in situ. Nor will it fit on an easel. But it was important to photograph it since it's an exceptionally rare sampler. In the end, we carried it to the main hall and laid it horizontally on an equally remarkable antique wooden chest. The hall was big enough to permit the use of the flashlights and softboxes so we eventually got the images we needed.  I felt confident pressing the buttons on the camera, but rather less confident about carrying a 200 year old sampler behind a 6 foot sheet of glass.
You can appreciate my delight to find the 2" diameter pinballs were next on the list of items to photograph and the more modestly-sized sampler stitched by Jane Austin.
With a few images taken of each sampler, we had about 2,000 in total by the time the shoot was over. Assessment and selection can therefore take a long time to complete and there is an enormous amount of work in order to bring images and text together harmoniously.
But publishing is another story altogether and that's Jacqueline's not mine.

WOW! Thanks Richard, I feel I've not only learned something valuable but I feel as if I lived through the entire process. Needleworkers are certainly glad you took Jacqueline up on her offer.

There is one book more I'd like to add to this article:
Heifman, Marvin, editor - Photography Changes Everything - The editor put together many essays by leading photographers that offer a brilliant reader-friendly exploration of the many ways in which photography package information and value, demand and hold attention, and shape our knowledge of the world. All the contributors engage readers in a timely exploration of the extent to which our lives have been transformed by a photography imagery.  The editor is an exhibition curator at the Smithsonian Institute.  $39.95


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