Review: “Stitch-illo” by Janine Vangool & Uppercase Magazine

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Uppercase Magazine has a colorful new release: Stitch-illo: Creative Expressions Through Thread and Textiles. If you’re looking for textile inspiration, this is definitely a book for you.

This book is actually the second volume in what will be a three-part “Encyclopedia of Inspiration” that includes 2016’s release Feed Sacks and the soon-to-be-released Botanica. Stitch-illo covers a huge variety of modern textile-based art, featuring over forty different artists working in all manner of fabric-based art.

While largely geared toward fine craft, Stitch-illo has something for artists of all kinds. I confess to a long-time fascination with fiber art; I’ve experimented with textile techniques at times, and if there’s ever been a book that might spur me to further exploration, this is it.

Unusual Surfaces: Danielle Clough 

Stitch-illo presents a wide variety of processes. Featured artist Danielle Clough is a good example. Danielle makes expressionist paintings in floss on a wide range of substrates; her use of color and context is quirky, offbeat, and awesome.

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Danielle also works on-site, using anything from chicken wire to chain link as her base.

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Sketching in Thread: Harriet Riddell

For another process-driven artist, Stitch-illo introduces Harriet Riddell. Harriet is a most unusual travel artist: “with her trusty sewing machine, she travels the world, creating free-motion observational thread drawings of her environment.”

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Harriet has stitched on-site sketches in thread all over the world. She also takes her sewing machine to figure sessions.

 

Depth Exploration: Michelle Kingdom

Stitch-illo also offers a good range of thematic modes. The psychological landscapes of Michelle Kingdom act as one of the anchors in Stitch-illo’s roster, rooting the colorful exuberance in something deep, dark, and earthy.

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Michelle’s embroidered vignettes often have feminist themes, a completely satisfying reclamation of needlework, which has historically been known as “the woman’s art.”

 

Focus on Artmaking People

For all its range and variety, the thing I like best about this book is its sincere, warm focus on the artists. The interviews are thorough and interesting and, though necessarily brief, they convey a real sense of these creatives as people. It’s refreshing to feel a connection between extraordinary artifacts and the ordinary people behind them.

In a world gone mad for difference and mystique, a sense of basic human connection with other artmakers is a vital source of inspiration, and it’s apparent that the folks at Uppercase know this. Stitch-illo is vibrant, varied, and carefully curated, but above all, it’s approachable.

It’s well worth recommending.

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