‘The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the Library.’  Albert Einstein

Well, I have two more books to add to my suggested Reading List.  I’m still reading The Subversive Stitch, so that will have to wait.  If you’re interested in history, stitch, and embellishment then this is for you.  And if you’re like me, and just love books, check out my Pinterest Board Reading/Books.  Honestly, people are just so clever with words and ideas, all about books.  I just love it and I hope you do too.

‘Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.’  Dr. Seuss

I’ll use the same format as before, next to each book, I’ll use a star system to help clarify an order.  To be consistent, I’ll comment on things like readability, content, images, and bibliography.  Five stars = amazing, four stars = good, three stars = OK, two and one stars = find another book.  This is simply my opinion, so you’ll have to be the judge if you can.  I’ve found book descriptions to be misleading at best.

I thought I’d also add an image, plus a link to where you could purchase the book if you’re interested.

So gather your brand new bookstand (check it out here), my recommendation from last week’s blog, grab a coffee and cozy up somewhere comfy, we’re ready to rock-and-roll.

The Bayeux Tapestry (New Edition) ****

TheBayeauxTapestry.cathyjackcouplandWritten by Lucien Musset, translated by Richard Rex, Published by The Boydell Press, 2002 & 2005.

This is a beautiful book, lovely paper, great images an eye-catching cover, as well as easy to read text.  However, the one thing I was really interested in, the stitching, the dyes, any current research into who designed and worked the embroidery is simply glossed over in a few paragraphs.  For instance, the author states he will not seek to identify the dyes used other than they must have been of vegetable extraction.  Why not?  There’s wonderful information on so many other topics, such as the style and possible design inspiration for the embroidery, the captions, the characters – it is based on a factual historical event, soldiers, weapons and combat, ships, buildings, and the environment as well as the borders enclosing the embroidery – they all help inform us of a time long past.  The Technical side of How was it embroidered? How were the needles made?  and What were the frames like? is non-existent.  The text is supported by fantastic images, but the lack of research into the actual embroidery, which after all carries the narrative, and has somehow managed to survive all this time, is just too insignificant.  The book made me really look at the images to see the small things, the things not easily understood, or indeed, easily overlooked, such as tiles used on buildings, clothing, and haircuts.  This is such a magnificent, technically skillful embroidery, and it’s truly presented to great advantage in this book, with an elongated banner topping each page of the Commentary showing images in the context of a wider whole.  To finish the book presents a Genealogical Table of both the Norman and English Dynasties involved, as well as a Select Bibliography, The Complete Text of the Captions, and Sources of the Illustrations.  A great book in so many ways, just lacking on the technical side of the actual embroidery.  Worth reading, definitely, but I need more on the embroidery to satisfy my curiosity.  Purchase here.

Guo Pei Couture Beyond *****

GuoPeiBeyondCouture.cathyjackcouplandForeward by Paula Wallace, Introduction by Lynn Yaeger, Photography by Howl Collective, Published by RizzoliElecta, New York, in Association with ScadFash and Scad Museum of Art, 2015

This book accompanied exhibitions of Guo Pei’s first solo presentations of her work in the United States.  In her forward, Paula Wallace begins with the words ‘Prepare to be transported.’  That pretty much sums up this book.  Magical, fantastical, unrestrained high fashion married to ancient tradition, history, and mythology.  Described by Wallace as China’s modern messenger of her rich cultural heritage, Guo Pei’s talents are easily visible, supported by the stunning photography used in this book.  It is a picture-book, although it is accompanied by brief notes at the back of the book on exhibited works describing fabric, thread, and embellishment.  The detailed images of embroidery, beadwork, and structure are other-worldly, bordering on genius.  Named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016 as well as being included in The Business of Fashion’s 500 people shaping the global fashion industry today, Guo Pei is the only current Chinese designer to have been accepted into the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and as a result, is able to show her work during Paris Fashion Week.  2015 is the time Guo’s work seems to have captured the West’s imagination when Rhianna wore a yellow, heavily beaded and embroidered, fur-trimmed cape to the Met Gala.  It’s in the book!  The opulence and luxury of Guo’s work lift our imagination out of the ordinary, every day to a sublime, surreal fantasy world.  This is the sort of book you would dip into over and over and over again.  It’s breathtaking in its beauty and creative ingenuity.  If that’s what you’re looking for, it’s here in this book.  Purchase here.

Well, two very different books spanning centuries, but connected by one thing – a needle and thread!

I’ll post a couple more as I finish reading them.  Bye for now.

cathy jack coupland