Review: “The Art of Fabric Books”

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I picked this book up last night by grace of the generosity of friends. It's one I've heard raved and rhapsodised about on several listservs, discussion groups and blogs. Perhaps because of this, I delayed buying it for a bit. Silly, I realise, but I tend to shy away from trends almost instinctively. Perhaps it's because there can be a sameness to the work of people who use the same books as road maps. It may be that I simply have a good bit of teenage rebellion left unchecked. Most probably, it's just my heel-digging reluctance to jump on bandwagons. (As a side note, have you ever noticed how people jump on bandwagons and fall off wagons? Is there a correlation?)

Now that I have the book, though, I will say that it's worth having. More than that, I will kick myself for not having bought it earlier.

This book is not a how-to. It's not a limited notion of how to construct and embellish fabric books. It's a toolbox of ways and means of performing techniques that could be used in fabric books. They could equally be used in personal shrines, wallhangings and heaven knows what else. It is fabulous, though, to have them pulled together.

For instance, there's an entire section on ways of putting text in a book. If you're stuck for inspiration on how to finish the edges of a page or wallhanging, there's a full section on the possibilities, complete with pictures so that you can see what the resulting effect might be.

The photos are good. The text is well-written and full of additional possibilities and inspiration. In effect, it lays out the basics of embellishing a fabric book and then gives you the tools to continue along yourown merry path of creativity.

There's plenty of eye candy, a number of references to excellent web resources and a long list of where to get materials and supplies. The section on materials to use at the beginning of the book discusses what to use, when and why. Most importantly, from my perspective, is that it doesn't rely on huge quantities of expensive stuff or equipment. In fact, there's a section devoted to making a book on a budget and incorporating everyday items.

If I were recommending a book on making fabric books to anyone, I'd send them in the direction of this book AND Fabric Art Journals by Pam Sussman. The Art of Fabric Books excels at the pages, their layout and embellishment, while Sussman's book does a bang-up job on codicology (book structure and construction). They are different, yet complementary works and the combination is as good an introduction as one could ever hope for and then some!

Synopsis: Absolutely worth buying, if you have any interest at all in either art quilting or fabric books. 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. sarai says:

    Hmm. Re: bandwagons, I think that sometimes they just look like a lot of fun, and other times they look plain silly. I tend to turn up my nose at them until I see all my friends having so much fun, and then I get scared I’m going to miss out, and wouldn’t it be fun to be cool like my friends, riding around town on the wagon…

    And then I realize: bandwagons, man, they don’t have shock absorbers. They just bump along the road at breakneck speed.

    Eventually I get (fall) off and walk along in the dust by the side of the road. Until I get tired and a cooler-looking wagon rumbles by, that is!

  2. arlee says:

    Okay, was waiting to see if that one was any good—now i’m out to get it too! And the Altered Images book! Groan, another addiction, though one can never have too many books :}

  3. Laura Lea says:

    Hi, Great review! I had this sitting by my bedside for weeks. I am going to post on the Flicker Fabric Art Journals that I saw this on Arlee’s blog… Sorry Vickyth I didn’t give you credit for your review, I’ll go and change that, simply put I just didn’t scroll down past the Pam Sussman book, I stopped reading. I have searched for this book in frustration and couldn’t find it! I don’t buy online so….Everyone is raving about this book Fabric Art Journals… I may have to order from the bookstore!

  4. vickyth says:

    Hi Laura,
    You've searched for the Sussman book? (couldn't make out which you meant) Whereabouts are you? It shouldn't take a bookstore long to get in – it's readily available. I certainly hope you find it!

    Belay that – I just read your post on the Flickr group and now see what you're talking about! 

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