Saturday, 25 October 2014

Gail Marsh's Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques

I have borrowed this book from the library several times.  It is written by Gail Marsh, who has been a design consultant for Marks and Spencer, and has published several books in the field of embroidery.  Titled Early 20th Century Embroidery Techniques, this particular book highlights the work of  a dozen or so embroiderers who were prevalent in the field from around 1900 to 1939.  It is 192 pages long and features over 330 photos so it is sure to be pleasing visually.  Included is a brief biography of each woman, followed by a discussion of their preferred methods, techniques, materials, etc. and photos of finished works. 

I was struck by how passionate these women were about their embroidery and how so many of them did truly view it as an art. The amount of work that would be devoted to even things that would be well worn such as tea cosies was surprising.  Sometimes the stitching on such items would be just exquisite. 
This is a highly readable book and the photos are lovely; the items shown provide inspiration and are well worth examining. 
One little jarring note was that some of these women were snobbish about embroidery and eschewed the kind of work many women would have been producing at the time and in fact, still do; you know using the iron-on transfers where you fill in with straight stitch or back stitch.
Other than that, this book is useful and inspirational.  It is available to buy from the Book Depository for around $23 with worldwide free shipping.