Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book Review: Fabric Art Workshop

After I saw an advertisement for "Fabric Art Workshop: Exploring Techniques and Materials for Fabric Artists and Quilters" by Susan Stein, I was eager to see this book. I'm drawn toward "workshop" sort of books that provide exercises to encourage play with new ideas (yeah, I know, I'm drawn toward all books) and love having resources in my library that I can use to spur me to try new things. So, I had high hopes for this book.

The book is laid out very simply, walking through 27 different techniques. They include angelina fiber, painstiks, foiling, silk fusion, painted fusible web, rust dyeing, burned edge applique and more. Each lesson lists the supplies you need, and provides clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions for using the materials. There are also suggestions for further play and references for further information.

To be honest, my first reaction was disappointment at the brevity and simplicity of each lesson. The information provided about each of the techniques is extremely basic, less than what one might find in a magazine article, even. I was also disappointed that the samples shown for each project are less than inspiring, to my eye, anyway.

Of course, the simplicity of this book may be the very feature it was aiming for. This would be a great book for someone who was curious about surface design technique and hadn't tried many of them. It's also a good resource as a collection of quick "how to" lessons. I could see giving this book as a gift to someone as an introduction to surface design play, but I wouldn't think it would have much appeal for an experienced fiber artist.

Even in books with simple techniques, gallery pages showing great artwork using the techniques can thrill me and make me look back at it over and over. I was looking forward to the gallery pages in this book. Again, however, I was disappointed. There are not many pieces shown, and they are simplistic and (to me) uninteresting. I was hoping to be blown away and convinced that I'd want to try the techniques, but I wasn't.

In terms of buying books to spur creative fiber art play, I'd instead choose Davila and Waterson's "Art Quilt Workbook" or Jeanne Williamson's "The Uncommon Quilter" or the always inspirational "Creative Quilting: the Journal Quilt Project" put out by Karey Bresnahan. All of those books have great ideas and inspiration for all levels of fiber artists. Still, this book might be just right for a beginning fiber artist or if you want simple directions and quick looks at some different techniques. It'd be a good addition to a guild library, too, to make lots of techniques available to quilters new to surface design.


  1. Anonymous11:52 PM

    Thank you for the highly informative book review. I am new to quilting and am so taken by art quilts. I am looking for a good way to learn. It does help to see magnificent works on line like yours! Really love the cream in your coffee!

  2. Diane, I couldn't agree more. Thisd book was very disappointing to me. I should have looked at it at the local book store before buyin it. My new favorite is the Kemshall book "The Painted Quilt" which I know you have reviewed and check out "Contemporary Quilts" by Sandra Meech which is full of great ideas.