I’ve written elsewhere here about how I’m getting excited about craft books that go beyond a simple collection of projects. Here’s another example of that genre – Leanne Prain’s Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery.
It’s tempting to speak in terms of “embroidery that crosses the boundaries between art and craft” here, but I think that instead, I’ll say that this book is filled with a wide range of approaches to the craft – from making and embellishing useful items to creating statements.
One of Sherri Lynn Wood’s embroidery-tattooed baby dolls
Hoopla is a project book in that there are projects to try. But mostly, it’s a statement book, a primer on stitchery’s many possibilities, and a big dose of inspiration.
There are many profiles of and interviews with embroidery-makers thoughout the book as well, and they make for fascinating reading. You’ll see folks you’d expect to see, like Jenny Hart and Jamie Chalmers, but you’ll meet many more you may never have heard of, and they’re all doing interesting work.
There are also amazing stories: here’s an image from Liz Kueneke’s participatory embroidery project, in which she stitches city maps onto cloth and then brings these maps to communities, asking people to stitch in details that represent how they relate to their neighborhoods. She’s done this work in Barcelona, Los Angeles, Bangalore, Quito, and Fez, to name several.
It’s really hard to represent the scope of Hoopla in a single review. You might want to visit the book’s website and follow the links to some of the artists’ websites. I’m very impressed with the great care Leanne Prain has taken to represent many voices in the embroidery world.
You’ll also see an intriguing mixture of six-strand floss embroidery, crewel, cross-stitch, needlepoint, and stitching on found objects. It’s a very refreshing mix, and I came away itching to pick up a needle and make something.
In case you’re wondering about the projects, here’s a sampling of what the book teaches you to make: a modern cuckoo clock, doilies depicting fairly photorealistic nipples, a classic ransom note pillow, gloves with “prison tattoo”-style embellishments, and this dandy Metrocard pouch by Erin Stanton. Many of the interviewed artists contributed patterns, and believe me, I have only scratched the surface of the project-y goodness.
(Incidentally, the book also contains all the stitch diagrams and materials info you’ll need to make those projects.)
A Free Download, Kids!
Arsenal Pulp Press was kind enough to donate a pattern from the book for you all as a freebie. It’s called “Home Invasion,” and it’s the brainchild of Sarah Terry. She discovered that her new home in Australia was rather, um, well-populated with crawlers, and so she decided to turn that into an art statement by stitching these intruders onto existing vintage table clothes, placemats, and pillow cases.
Might be just the thing for your Halloween decorating, eh? Click here to download your copy!
(Disclosure time: Arsenal Pulp Press sent me a PDF copy for review. The title links above are affiliate links.)