Sunday, June 5, 2022

Weekend Review: Poetic Cloth


Poetic Cloth: Creating Meaning in Textile Art / Hannah Lamb
London: Batsford, c2019.
128 p.

This is another of the textile arts books published by Batsford - I love them, not only because the covers are always flocked and pleasing to the touch! All the books I've read in this series are interesting examinations of modern textile arts from many different angles. 

This one is about creating meaning with your work: there are different artists featured, and great images of exhibitions of their works. There is also discussion of the meaning behind an artist's approach, and guidance on how to incorporate some of these techniques into your own work, with lots of text step-by-steps, and clear photos of examples. I think anyone would come away from this with at least one new idea to try out; there is more stylistic variety to explore than in some of the other titles I've read so far.  

The book is organized into chapters entitled Touch, Stitch, Trace, Fragment, Mend and Lustre. Each of them explore these themes and processes as shown in the author's work, plus featured others. I think this allows for a range of styles and ideas, and found it both illuminating and great fun to browse.

I do find that a lot of British textile artists are very interested in the frayed and decaying, and this book is no exception. There are many examples of swatches, samples, patchwork and the like which are all faded and frayed. It's an aesthetic. 

But there is also some discussion of other interesting techniques and styles, including a patchwork of handkerchiefs by artist Diana Harrison, that is more streamlined than shabby chic. And there is discussion of cyanotypes, which are apparently a big part of the author's work. She goes beyond simple plant silhouettes to create ghostly images using digital negatives, and they are striking. Full instructions on how to do this are shared so you can try too. 

I really enjoyed the breadth of this book, and the thoughtful text about meaning and permanence, interspersed with clear instructional sections. There is a lot to explore here. If you are interested in textile arts, you might also find this an interesting read.  


  1. Hi Melanie,
    What a lovely looking book! I have been able to put a hold on it at the library - I hadn't realised Hannah had published a book. Quite a few years ago I went to a week long convention in another state. There were lots of classes, but I had booked to do a slow stitching class with Claire Wellesley-Smith from the UK. She had published her book 'Slow Stitch - mindful and contemplative textile art' just prior. Unfortunately at the last minute she was not able to come, and her friend Hannah Lamb came in her place. Took me a few days to appreciate the slow stitching, which was a trifle too slow and abstract for me, but I warmed to it. However I loved the cyanotype! That is intriguing. And so many possibilities. But the week was wonderful. And to spend a week totally immersed with like minded people, all day workshops, evening talks etc. I doubt I will get another opportunity to do anything like it again, I was working then.
    .... Sara

    1. How wonderful to be able to do a class with either Hannah or Claire Wellesley-Smith -- I would love that. Having a week to just think and talk textiles would be heaven!


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