Last week I did some research for my 1970′s “where are they now” crochet designer project on a crochet artist named Arlene Stimmel. I mentioned at the time that she was featured in a book called Art to Wear that I didn’t own yet but had ordered. I’ve now ordered the book (and updated that post on Stimmel accordingly) and what I’m here to say is that this book is 100% worth the price tag.
I Need a Coffee Table for this Book
The first most obvious thing about this 1986 book is that it’s massive. You can kind of tell how large it is from this photo of it next to my 13″ laptop:
It is more than 300 pages and it is HEAVY. But what’s important about the huge size of this book is the fact that it’s large scale offers a format that lends itself well to big pictures. Each artist that is profile has a piece of their work displayed across a whole large page, many of them with a two-page spread for a single wearable art piece. It’s beautiful. This truly is an art book!
Amazing Collection of 1970s and 1980s Creations
This book was published in the mid-80s so it’s filled with works of wearable art that were created from about the mid 1970s through the mid 1980s. I’m rapidly learning that this was such a fascinating time in wearable art. The edges of handmade fashion were being pushed further and further. That makes this a truly fun resource. I rarely buy books. (I know, it seems like I have a lot of them but most of those I read are through the library or are purchased and then re-sold when I’m done with them.) And I can’t even think of a time in my life when I’ve spent more than $40 on one book. But this curated collection of art images from this great unique era is so worth every penny. I truly feel like what I bought isn’t so much a book as a piece of art.
Fiber Arts In this Book
I have only begun to skim the surface of what this book has to offer, beginning with the first chapter which is crochet art as well as art in knitting and weaving. This obviously includes the work of Arlene Stimmel and it also features profiles of several other artists on my list of 1970′s crochet designers to explore (like Nicki Hitz Edson who co-authored Creative Crochet with Arlene Stimmel and Sharron Hedges who had a lot of work in the Creative Crochet book). There are eighteen fiber artists featured in the book and although not all of them are crochet I’m excited to explore all of them!
Other Wearable Arts in Art To Wear
This book is made up of four different chapters profiling artists in various categories. In addition to the fiber arts category there are chapters for featherwork and leatherwork (what a great combination!), mixed media, multiform and embellishment and surface design, stitchery and hooking. I want to learn about them all!
Where would you put this book if you purchased it? Would it go on display somewhere? I haven’t found a place for mine yet but I don’t own a coffee table or side table for the living room and that’s where it’s going when I do get one.
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I've had the book in my personal library since the late 80's. It's fabulous. I hadn't looked at it for some time, not since I began crocheting 3 years ago I guess, so pulled it out a few minutes ago and fell in love with it all over again. I hadn't really been tuned into some of the great crochet looks. Wow.
I also have a copy of of the iconic Modular Crochet, by Judith Copeland, which is another inspirational, motivational book, but even earlier, from 1978 that is crying out for some updated treatments, using her techniques.
@BarbieCat1 I'm so glad that you were inspired to dig out your copy of the book. It's timeless in how wonderfully creative the work is!! I don't have the Copeland book, though, so now I totally need to hunt that down!
@CrochetBlogger Just in case you're interested, I see there are a few of the Copeland books for sale at Amazon... from about $34 to .... astronomical. Some even have the dust jacket, which mine doesn't... I bought it used, and other than no jacket, it's in very good condition. I'm planning a sweater using the principles in the book, figuring out how to make it a cardigan. While there are no specific instructions on how to do that, I don't think it'll be difficult.
@BarbieCat1 Thanks so much! I'll check it out for sure.