Textile art books: Learn from the experts
We all know how challenging it can be to attend in-person workshops with our favourite textile artists. And sometimes online workshops can be tricky to budget for, or hard to squeeze into our busy schedules.
Get ready to meet some very generous textile artists who are sharing their tips and techniques in book form, that super convenient, tactile and long-lasting format. They’re not holding anything back, and the wealth of information and instruction they provide is guaranteed to inspire.
There’s nothing like being able to sit with a book to study gorgeous images of an artist’s work and read step-by-step instructions to try out their techniques at home. And, as you tackle a book’s tips and projects, you can jot notes in the margins along the way. Most importantly, you can learn at your own pace and revisit ideas over and over again.
This is a long list filled with a variety of textile art genres, from traditional stitching to surface design to sculpture. And all the authors are indeed experts at what they do. We’re confident there’s at least a title or two you’ll want to add to your bookshelf. Enjoy!
Mixed Media Textile Art in Three Dimensions
Ann Goddard draws her inspiration from natural landscapes, organic materials and a concern for the environment. She combines textile and non-textile elements to create intriguing juxtapositions. Linen, loose fibres, paper and yarn are complemented by concrete, wood, lead and bark.
Readers are introduced to techniques ranging from stitching, wrapping, couching and knotting to sawing, drilling and casting. Instruction is aimed to help artists create eclectic works in which boundaries are crossed and expectations are challenged.
Mixed Media Textile Art in Three Dimensions (2022) by Ann Goddard. ISBN 9781849946926
Learn how to use your sewing machine to turn natural forms into exquisite art. Meredith Woolnough offers a behind-the-scenes look into her organic embroidery technique. Readers will learn how to create replicas of nature using a delicate system of tiny stitches.
Twelve different creativity-prompting activities are included to help master her method, with emphasis on achieving varied shapes and patterns from sources like leaves, shells and coral. Instruction on working with your sewing machine is also included, as well as gorgeous images of Meredith’s works for further inspiration.
Meredith Woolnough is based in Australia, where she teaches workshops at textile studios and schools. Her work has appeared in Handmade, Fibre Arts Now, Stitches, Embroidery and other magazines.
Organic Embroidery (2018) by Meredith Woolnough. ISBN 9780764356131
Contemporary Weaving in Mixed Media
This modern guide to weaving contains a wealth of practical advice and loads of inspiration for every aspect of weaving. From gathering materials to making and exhibiting ambitious woven masterpieces, this book celebrates the meditative and calming effects of the loom. The best part is readers won’t need expensive equipment to create something beautiful.
Rachna Garodia clearly explains how to choose a loom, take inspiration from the natural world to design and plan, gather varied materials, personalise your work, and explore unusual weaving techniques. The book is also filled with gorgeous images of Rachna and other global weavers’ incredible textile art.
Stitch Club member Louise J. Jones is a big fan of this book, especially its chapter called ‘Walk With A Poem In Your Heart’.
‘I’m delighted by the way Rachna creates ‘poetry yarn’ by combining poetry with textile art, and it inspired me to make my own version. The chapter also describes how Rachna created her Ode to Sylvia Plath piece, which incorporates a dried fig leaf to echo Plath’s fig tree metaphor for the heroine’s turmoil in The Bell Jar’.
Contemporary Weaving in Mixed Media (2022) by Rachna Garodia. ISBN 9781849947657
Textile Creativity Through Nature: Felt, Texture and Stitch
Jeanette Appleton has come up with a guide packed with practical ideas for rewilding your creative practice. Written for new and experienced felters alike, Jeanette shares her philosophy and methods of working with nature as a way of nurturing creativity and sustainability.
Learn how to create exciting felt surfaces that are both beautiful and versatile. From lines of sea, hedge and grass to cracks in parched earth or frosted puddles, Jeanette reveals her techniques for translating natural phenomena into subtleties of texture and stitch. She also shares a variety of strategies for overcoming artist’s block, including transforming recycled cloth, and studying the routes and patterns of your local environment.
Jeanette Appleton is a member of the 62 Group, and she exhibits her work in the UK and across the globe. Her work is featured in many magazines and books.
Textile Creativity Through Nature: Felt, Texture and Stitch (publication date October 2023) by Jeanette Appleton. ISBN 9781849947732
Fragmentation and Repair for Mixed Media and Textile Artists
‘Fragmentation’ and ‘repair’ are buzzwords in textile and mixed media art, and Shelley Rhodes is a master of both. Learn how she reconstructs and reassembles cloth, paper and other materials to create new pieces.
Shelley also describes how she uses found objects collected over the years to add depth and emotional resonance to her work. From piercing and devoré to patching and darning, the author shares a wealth of favourite techniques, including the Japanese concepts of ‘wabi-sabi’ (finding beauty in imperfection) and ‘mottainai’ (using every last scrap).
Shelley Rhodes teaches workshops covering all aspects of design, stitch, drawing, sketchbooks and mixed media work. She has also written for a variety of publications, including Drawn to Stitch and Somerset Studio.
Fragmentation and Repair for Mixed Media and Textile Artists (2021) by Shelley Rhodes. ISBN 9781849946100
Embroidering the Everyday: Found, Stitch and Paint
Cas Holmes explores the everyday and the domestic to help readers re-examine the world and make use of their geographic limitations or individual circumstances as a rich resource for creating.
Cas shares her own and other leading practitioners’ works to demonstrate how to be more resourceful, to rediscover a family history, to draw from one’s local landscape and to transform materials. Homemade dyes, mark-making, stitch, image transfer and collage are just a sampling of the book’s many techniques, which readers can use to create mixed media textiles in a more thoughtful way.
Cas Holmes exhibits widely and runs courses at West Dean College in West Sussex. Her other books include Textile Landscape (2018), Stitch Stories (2015), Connected Cloth (2013) and The Found Object in Textile Art (2010).
Embroidering the Everyday: Found, Stitch and Paint (2021) by Cas Holmes. ISBN 9781849947114
Textile Portraits: People and Places in Textile Art
Anne Kelly is known for her evocative and nostalgic work that often incorporates portraits. This book gives readers a look into the variety of techniques she uses to achieve the nuances of facial expressions and personalities, including hand and machine embroidery, quilting and appliqué.
Topics include self-portraits, cultural expression, abstraction, incorporating narratives and even pet portraits. Anne also features the work of other textile artists from across the globe who specialise in portraiture.
Anne Kelly is a textile artist and tutor. Her work is exhibited globally in solo and group exhibitions, and she is the author of Textile Travels (2020), Textile Folk Art (2018), Textile Nature (2016), and Connected Cloth (2013).
Textile Portraits: People and Places in Textile Art (2023) by Anne Kelly. ISBN 9781849947534
Targeted Truth: Threading the Reality of Society
Nneka Jones felt extremely vulnerable when she decided to transition from a painter to a mixed media artist, and Targeted Truth documents both her courage and artistic process.
This isn’t a typical embroidery book highlighting different techniques or types of stitches. Instead, it provides a visual experience emphasising the marriage of art and activism and the physical work it takes to bind the two.
Nneka’s portraits resonate with colour and feeling, and this sneak peek into her process allows readers to appreciate embroidery through every stage, ultimately leaving us with a greater appreciation for her final artwork.
Nneka Jones graduated with a BFA from the University of Tampa, Florida, US. One of her most notable achievements was a TIME magazine commission to produce the cover artwork for the August 31 2020 cover.
Targeted Truth (2020) by Nneka Jones
Stitch and Pattern: Design and Technique for Pattern Textile Art
Learn how even basic squares, circles and triangles can create stunning impact in stitch and textiles. Drawing inspiration from across the globe, Jean Draper provides practical and simple instructions for developing and experimenting with patterns using grids, symmetry, rotation and repeats.
Jean also provides instruction on creating bands and borders, strip patchwork and strip piecing. Even body ornamentation is explored to help interpret the human form in stitch. Inspiration, design methods and stitching techniques fill the pages of this gorgeous book.
Jean Draper is an exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and the Textile Study Group. Her work is in public and private collections throughout the UK and abroad.
Stitch and Pattern (2018) by Jean Draper. ISBN 9781849944397
Poetic Cloth: Creating Meaning in Textile Art
Discover how cloth, stitch and surface can create personal meaning in textile art. This book explores the connection between process and material by focusing on stitch, print, surface manipulation and construction to create seductive textile surfaces. Hannah Lamb emphasises a sensitivity to material, a quiet attention to detail and thoughtful application of textile technique. Her techniques include hand stitch, shadow work, patching, darning, devoré and cyanotype printing.
Stitch Club member Elizabeth Stephenson especially loves this book because it has a good balance of technical and practical information, along with inspiring images of completed works.
‘I’ve been very focused on process and am at a point where I need to consider meaning and purpose a bit more in my work. This book is a great prompt for thinking about those aspects. It also has a lovely textured cover, so it’s nice to handle as well.’
Hannah Lamb has lectured in embroidery and design at Bradford School of Art where she is currently Programme Leader for Textiles. Hannah exhibits nationally and internationally and is an exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists.
Poetic Cloth: Creating meaning in textile art (2019) by Hannah Lamb. ISBN 9781849945363
The Art of Annemieke Mein: The Wildlife Artist in Textiles
Annemieke Mein is known for extraordinary sculptures borne out of her passionate commitment to the environment. She uses a variety of materials, such as silk, wool, fur and cotton for their colour, texture, credibility and aesthetic appeal. She then meticulously paints and stitches her subjects using hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, quilting, weaving, trapunto, felting and more.
While her approach sounds complex, readers are provided with detailed instructions and gorgeous imagery of how to combine Annemieke’s numerous techniques for limitless combinations.
Annemieke Mein was the first textile artist to be accepted as a member of both the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia and the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. She has exhibited at galleries in Australia and her work is included in private collections across the globe.
The Art of Annemieke Mein: The Wildlife Artist in Textiles (2019) by Annemieke Mein. ISBN 9781782217657
Sculptural Textile Art: A Practical Guide to Mixed Media Wire Sculpture
Priscilla Edwards takes stitch to impressive new levels within wire sculpture. Working both two and three-dimensionally, Priscilla layers colour, stitch, shape and texture to transform surfaces into beautiful and whimsical sculptures full of character, curiosity and charm.
Readers can explore a playful mixed media approach to create 3D sculptures using a variety of media to transform plain papers, fabrics and memorabilia. Priscilla also offers tips for including both hand and free-motion machine stitching. The book wraps up with five separate projects designed to build upon complexity and inspire development of one’s artistic voice.
Priscilla Edwards exhibits her work globally and lectures in higher education for the University of Creative Arts (UK). Priscilla also hosts independent workshops and talks in galleries, museums and schools.
Sculptural Textile Art: A Practical Guide to Mixed Media Wire Sculpture (2022) by Priscilla Edwards. ISBN 9781782219002
Books featured in this article
- Mixed Media Textile Art in Three Dimensions (2022) by Ann Goddard
- Organic Embroidery (2018) by Meredith Woolnough
- Contemporary Weaving in Mixed Media (2022) by Rachna Garodia
- Textile Creativity Through Nature: Felt, Texture and Stitch (October 2023) by Jeanette Appleton
- Fragmentation and Repair for Mixed Media and Textile Artists (2021) by Shelley Rhodes
- Embroidering the Everyday: Found, Stitch and Paint (2021) by Cas Holmes
- Textile Portraits: People and Places in Textile Art (September 2023) by Anne Kelly
- Targeted Truth: Threading the Reality of Society (2020) by Nneka Jones
- Stitch and Pattern: Design and Technique for Pattern Textile Art (2018) by Jean Draper
- Poetic Cloth: Creating meaning in textile art (2019) by Hannah Lamb
- The Art of Annemieke Mein: The Wildlife Artist in Textiles (2019) by Annemieke Mein
- Sculptural Textile Art: A Practical Guide to Mixed Media Wire Sculpture (2022) by Priscilla Edwards
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Can’t get enough ‘must read’ booklists? Check out our Stitch Picks for best hand embroidery books.