By Jan Messent
Review by Sue Bates
Jan Messant has many good books to her name but this is by far the greatest and glossiest. If you aren't reading snippets from it for your embroidery knowledge, it will rest invitingly on the coffee table.
Jan writes of her great interest in the histories of the work she has interpreted here, and her book has a background of historical facts. A tremendous amount of research has gone into each section of the book and it shows in each piece she makes.
Sometimes she produces finished work, but she admits to enjoying smaller sample sizes now.They are as illuminating as her completed works and give glimpses into methods that may have been historically viable. Her techniques are many-fold.
Jan insists it isn't a "how to" book, but there are hints throughout to enable the reader to do something similarly.
The book has eight sections with beautiful photography from beginning to end. There are many close-ups too, to add to the awareness of Jan's skill and colour sense.
There is an introduction of Jan to the reader after which she gives a brief historic survey of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings that reveals her knowledge of the subject. The photographs included urge you to delve deeper into the book.
Then follows the stories and progressions of seven hand-made books. Each one is such a work of art that any embroiderer with a creative flair will be thinking through their stash, itching to get started.
The books are separate entities with contents coming from Celtic influences to the Domesday interpretation. They are full of rich textures and historical alliances.
Jan's previous books have incorporated many styles of embroidery, design and creative uses for all types of thread. She has taken all that forward to this work with great enthusiasm and talent.
I applaud it.
Want to know more about the book? Why not go and read Dee's review!
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