Stitched Textiles: Nature

Redfern, Stephanie
Tunbridge Wells, Search Press, 2018 ISBN: 978 1 78221 452 6 128 pages  I have reviewed the other books in this series. They have all, without exception, been outstanding. If mixed media gets you excited, you will love this book. I am so inspired that I am already working one of the projects, not that there are many projects. Rather the book is about giving you the skills and techniques to be creative. Does it succeed?  Stephanie’s brief introduction encourages us all to step outside our comfort zone and to make wonderful art works inspired by nature, which, even in a city as large as Auckland, is all around us. In the materials section, Stephanie explains what she has found works best for her particular style; the fabrics, threads and needles, the papers and enormous array of embellishments AND the paints and inks. If doing this style of embroidery appeals, you will also need a sewing machine and quite a few materials which are perhaps more associated with quilting than with embroidery. Be prepared to buy quite a bit of fusible web. You will also need drawing and painting tools and some printing media. Don’t let this list put you off. You will probably already have most of the materials and you can always do what I do; use substitutes.  Design and inspiration is covered quite comprehensively, followed by a section about colour choices. I notice that Stephanie enjoys a subdued colour palette with a little splash of a bright colour to enhance a focal point. Process and practice sections come next and I suggest you read these carefully. There are many tips about both machine and hand stitching, how to go about painting a variety of fabrics (cotton, silk, papers), using natural items (think leaves) to print onto fabric, how to attach embellishments and, finally, mono and digital printing. There is a large chapter on how to develop a design, always a bit of a psychological hurdle for me. Stephanie’s way of going about it removes some of the fear factor and encourages experimentation.  The rest of the book is divided into themes – ocean, rainforest, botany, birds, animals, and collections (keeping your eyes open for those found items which may be incorporated into your work). There are three step-by-step projects under three of those headings. I am making one of the bird projects. Full size templates are at the back of the book, which is finished with a very good index.  If you enjoy working dainty table mats and tray cloths, and I do, you may find the ideas and techniques in this book quite daunting. If you enjoy making cards, small books and wall art; if you enjoy designing your own embroidery and slopping paint onto fabric, you will really enjoy Stephanie Redfern’s offering. I think is it very inspirational. It got my creative side all excited. Watch the new work table…  I borrowed my copy from Auckland Libraries. At the time of writing this, it was available at Book Depository for $28.50.  Erica Marsden