Book review: Bags with paper and stitch

I haven’t done much in the way of book reviews yet, but it’s something that I am interested in including in this blog…

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So, the first book on my shelf is Bags with paper and stitch.  I am working on a few bag projects right now, and was very interested in being inspired by other designers and artists to see what I can work with myself.  The book Bags with paper and stitch by Isobel Hall is much more of an artist’s showcase than a ‘craft’ or ‘sewing’ or even a ‘how-to’ book.  There are plenty of instructions, but the work really seems to be more about showing off her amazingly beautiful works of functional art – rather than a book for someone to follow along with and use to create their own bags.  There are some great ideas and some beautiful inspiration, but the author also talks about a lot of products that the average sewer/crafter might not have, know where to find, or even know what the items are.

I know that a lot of the time I’ll go into a hardware store and have a specific “thing” in mind, but without knowing what it is actually used for – it’s nearly impossible to find amoung the towering shelves, or get assistance from a sales clerk who knows about routers and snakes – but nothing at all about how to create a functional, moving set of leather and tin claws for a Steampunk Jabberwock costume… (and, even in the city of over a million people, we STILL don’t have a Steampunk Jabberwock supply shop…. 😉  )

For instance, the author talks about:

  • bronzing powder – which I presume you would find in an art supply shop?
  • taggle-tuff (an open weave mesh that I’ve never heard of )
  • and sinamay – which is used in floral arrangements and hat-making.  I know when I went to look for it it took ages before I found some, and even then it really only came in limited widths and colours.

Another project that made me think that this feels more like an art-book than a how-to or craft/sewing project book was the instructions for making silk paper.  The paper itself is beautiful, but in order to be a functional purse, the author recommends that you’ll need to reinforce the outside of the purse with fabric – to me, this would ruin the point of having the lovely hand-made silk paper, and make that part of it unnecessary if you wanted to really make a functional bag.

So – if you want to be inspired by beautiful textile art – definitely pick up this book.  However if you’re more in the mood for a book with projects you can accomplish this weekend, then this is probably not the right book for your collection.

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