Threads Around the World

We’re very proud of the books we publish, but we also like to highlight other good books from the world of textiles. Traditional Weavers of Guatemala author Deborah Chandler wrote to us about a new book that explores textile techniques around the world, Threads around the World: From Arabian Weaving to Batik in Zimbabwe. It’s written by our friend Deb Brandon and published by the fine people at Schiffer Publishing. Thanks for this review, Deborah.

AroundtheWolrd“Traditional textiles help us maintain our connections between past and present, and our ties to each other. They prevent us from losing our humanity.” Deb Brandon, from Threads around the World.

Deb Brandon has brought to life an array of textile stories that are as entertaining as they are enlightening. Distant and personal, filled with soul and technique, from 25 countries and cultures, she has given us a delightful buffet that is both comforting in what we already know and startling and fun in what we don’t. Here’s a sampling:

MOROCCO: “To the Berber, weaving is life.  . . . a metaphor for the evolving relationship between mother and son in a male-dominated society. It is also an expression of birth, life, death, and rebirth.

A Berber weaver and her son. Photo by Susan Schaefer Davis.

INDIGO: Indigo dyeing is not uncommon around the world, but the Blue Hmong of South East Asia take it to another level. They produce an indigo dyed fabric with a startling sheen to it, accomplished using varied methods. Post-indigo bath immersion may be in the juice of yellow beans, wild walnuts, or young persimmons, extract of water buffalo skin, pigs’ blood, or egg whites and herbs. Then the cloth is beaten, with wood or rocks, until it develops that profound sheen.

HUNGARY: “We crowded around Dad as he rummaged through his suitcase for presents. I must have been eight or nine years old. He pulled out a blue piece of fabric and turned toward me. He shook it out—a ‘me-sized’ apron, saturated with embroidery, large flowers in brilliant colors—and said, ‘It’s from Hungary.’”

Hungarian embroidery. Photo by Joe Coca.

JAPAN: “Fish printing is not for the squeamish.”

Stories about block printing, knitting, pleating, piña cloth, ikat, backstrap weaving, molas, story cloth, kente cloth, vodou flags, shisha mirror embroidery,  and hand-braided shoes, open us up to the cultures that produce these wonders.

Weaving in Patan, India. Photo by Carol Ventura.

The book is inviting and well-written, the photography is stunning, and the added resource information at the end of each chapter is a bonus for anyone who wants to learn more. Threads Around the World introduced me to possibilities I never imagined, and I am still smiling. Thanks, Deb.

–Deborah Chandler


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