Book Reviews: Push Stitchery and “Tapestry Weaving: Design and Technique” PDF  | Print |  E-mail

 push stitchery

 Push Stitchery edited by Jamie Chalmers 2011
Lark Books,ISBN: 9781600597879, Format: Hard, 176pp, all in color, 9 X 7, Series: PUSH 


 A curator, who is integrally involved with the artist in the gallery is, like an editor, tasked with applying a standard selection process that is, however, informed by a complex array of specifics – the key of which is to interpret objects for public consumption. In this way, using a crisp Q & A format to profile the artists, Jamie Chalmers (aka Mr X Stitch) has successfully gathered together an exciting range of makers who use stitchery as a means of creative expression. He presents to us a thoughtful, all encompassing ”exhibition” of contemporary needle work.

To be more precise, he has done a great job. With it’s “peek a boo” cover and engaging format, Jamie gets us to the heart of each of the thirty makers by keeping it simple. Text is to a minimum either on one side of the page or across the bottom to allow the images their own breathing space like the lovely clean lines of a gallery wall. The list of names, techniques, materials and countries of origin is pleasant and helpful like a “sampler” sampling what’s inside:

·        Clyde Oliver from England, silverware and car doors with embedded cross-stitch

·        Severija Incirauskaite Kariauneviciene from Lithuania, thread hand embroidered on linen

·        Tilleke Schwarz from the Netherlands, printed silk organza, found objects, lace appliqué and hand embroidery on linen

·        Anna Torma from Canada, freehand machine drawing on layered cotton

Push Stitchery, via the Lark Craft publishing group, is a natural extension of Chalmers’ revelation he reveals in his introduction; “My story began with cross-stitch, which I still refer to as a “Gateway” craft. Shortly after that, I began blogging about stitching, soon discovering other people who where producing contemporary cross-stitch, snaky samplers, and genre–busting-free style pieces. It was a revelation.” Thanks must go to Lark Craft publishing group, in business for 25 years who claims on their website to have “been an integral part of how the craft community has grown, changed, and evolved over the last couple of decades.” Their “How To” books and magazine are their main product, and their motivation is to be  “Inspirational and instructive” for the ever shifting hobbyist come “Crafter” populace and an increasing DIY consumer who seeks more than “kits”. Fortunately, occasionally Lark Craft produces books such as the “500 Series” and “Push Stitchery edited by Jamie Chalmers 2011”. Push Stitchery is inspirational rather than purely instructional and is clearly the work of a curious eye. Chalmers  presents to us established internationally acclaimed mid career makers such as Tilleke Schwarz and Anna Torma along side relatively unknown emerging makers such as Emily Eibel and Luke Haynes from the United Sates and Andrea Vander Kooji from Canada. (Note that Luke Haynes was the last cover story on Fiber Arts Magazine!)

 The skilled illustrator Emily Eibel uses  graphic blocks of appliquéd solid coloured shaped cloth with a stitched rather then drawn line present intriguing narratives. “Road Kill Stew” an appliqué house, tree, pick up truck, billboard and deer is a story line that we can easily follow, while “Fresh Killed Meat” with a chicken, a goats head and two cups of coffee… you be the judge. Luke Haynes’ quilts “[Man Stuff #1] Hammer” and [Man Stuff # 4] Elk Head are stylized images of coloured cloth pieced together like paint by numbers -- a nostalgia equal to both media and an humorous internal battle of the sexes. Andrea Vander Kooji stitching on old printed sheets or tablecloths creates juxtapositions of a slight rock n roll teenage rebellion on top of a Sears and Roebuck domesticity. Her works with dead animals, wrestlers mask, tattoo imagery over top of floral patterns, stripes, checks or even “Star Track” bed sheets have an attractive charm.   

It is a pleasure to review a book like it was an exhibition. Surely you will also find this a reason to add it to your own library. It is a snapshot of current work being done with thread and, like a good group show, it needs time and many return visits. Get yourself a copy. I suspect it will become for you useful well thumbed reference book. 

Website for:

Jamie Chalmers Mr. X Stitch

 Speaking of Instructional, inspirational and useful reference books, please turn the page for a review of “Tapestry Weaving: Design and Technique” by Joanne Soroka from Crowood press:


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