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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: The Art Quilt Collection

Yesterday, my husband I and drove to Athens, Ohio to pick up our daughter from Ohio University.  During the drive, I got the chance to read The Art Quilt Collection: designs & Inspiration from Around the World (Sixth & Spring Books by Penn Publishing, 2010 ISBN 10:  1936096-08-4 ISBN-13:   978-1-986096-08-04, 160 pages, suggested mfg. retail price: $24.95 US,  $31.95 CAN).

As you are probably aware, I have a lot of art quilt books.  I enjoy them a lot and I wondered when I purchased this if I was going to throw away my money.  I was actually delighted with this one.  Although it had several artists I was familiar with, this was not filled with duplicates as seen from other art quilt books such as 500 Art Quilts  or Art Quilt Masters.  I particularly liked how this was laid out.  Not only does it have an alphabetic index by artist's name, it has thumbnail prints of the images with the artist's name in the beginning of the book. Each quilt has an overall and a smaller detail.  On the left side of the page are the basics: artist, name of the work, materials, methods, and size.  On the right is a concise yet informative artist's statement about the piece.

I admit, I read every statement and the book from cover to cover.  I did not expect to find the 7 (or was it 8) step-by step instructions on the techniques used in some of the quilts.  While many experienced art quilters don't really care about this, for new art quilters, this would make it invaluable.  I sort of giggled as I could hear the people at one of the major publishers I had experience with telling me that art quilt books don't sell well and that you have to have techniques or this book managed to kill two birds with one stone.  It will be interesting to see how well this one holds up in value because of this small difference.

If there was one area in which I was disappointed, it was Linda Seward's introduction.  To me, it was pretty much "the same old same old".  The introduction was only 2 pages long, but the first page was given over to the history of quilts, a reference to the Whitney Museum of American Art's show in 1971....and the old saw "taking quilts off beds and hanging them firmly on walls." (p. 11).....Sometimes I really wish we could get over this....we get it.  Quilters get least most of them do today.  Only about 3 paragraphs of the introduction really got at the meat of art quilting, and even then it often stated the obvious.  This book features the work of artists from all over the world, proving beyond a doubt that quilt-making is truly international."  Linda, you can do better than this....

I enjoy it.  I intend to use it along with my other stable of art quilt books to show my colleagues and other quilters the breadth of quilting today as well as using them of examples of various points of design, technique and construction.  I intend to read it again...and in between times, just look at the photographs and enjoy them.

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