Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Assisi Embroidery - Part Two

The books I have on Assisi Embroidery vary from just pattern books to ones with historical information on the technique and the area it comes from. I started out with Ricami d'Assisi [Assisi Embroidery] 2 and 3 published by Mani di Fata. I hand-wrote a letter and mailed it to them requesting the two books that I'd seen in an edition of an Italian embroidery magazine, probably RAKAM. (By the way, those of you in the U.S. can order a subscription to RAKAM from Amazon) They wrote me a letter back stating that I could order from them only if I followed a long and complicated list of instructions which required photocopies of the front and back of my credit card, identification, etc. We're talking about 10 years ago or so... when the internet was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today. I actually faxed my info to them and waited months for my books to arrive. Thankfully life is not like that anymore!

Later I discovered Punto Assisi, Editrice Minerva, 2001. The blurb said it was in Italian and English on whatever website I bought it from, however I was disappointed to find that only the technical directions were translated (there is German and French too!) and the whole history section was not. I know it was recently reprinted (2007) with some updates but I don't know if the history text is now translated or not. If someone out there knows, will you post a comment? The older edition has a blue cover, the newest edition has the same pattern but it is in red. The collection of patterns in this book is quite extensive, from little patterns to big ones, central designs for tablecloths and borders galore – traditional Italian designs with all kinds of strange animals (my favourite!). The bibliography is extensive and helpful to those seeking more information. This book is well worth the trouble of hunting it down.

An interesting book is the Variety Book No. 4, Carmela Testa Co. Inc., 1925. This is all in English with great close-up photos. This book also has quite a lot on hemstitching, showing how to stitch the rolled hem and withdraw threads for open work. If you're lucky enough to find this on Ebay, grab it! Otherwise you can get a restored copy from Iva Rose in the U.S.

My absolute favourite Assisi Book is Il Punto Assisi by Raffaella Bartolucci Cesaretti, 2004. It is a hard cover book loaded with great photos of existing embroideries. The text is in Italian and extensively recounts the history of the technique and those who practiced it over time. Symbology and designs are explained and there are about 10 pages of designs, some very complex! The bibliography is extensive. I wrote to the author directly to get my copy and sent her a money order (back when it first came out) but I have seen it turn up on searches at and from time to time.

I have Old Italian Patterns for Linen Embroidery by Frieda Lipperheide originally published in German in 1892, this edition was translated into English by Kathleen Epstein in 1996. This is a lovely collection of patterns. Not really a book but a collection of folios. It is beautifully presented and the folios are easily used when stitching. It has historical information on Italian Embroidery in general and encompasses other techniques besides Assisi Embroidery.

My latest acquisition is just a pattern book but I'll mention it as it is interesting. The patterns are a collection of the last 10 years of research by the Accademia Punto Assisi. They have painstakingly recorded patterns from pieces of embroidery from the trousseaux of local women. The collection is spiral bound with a sturdy cover that folds out so that you can stand the book up on a table top when you're working!

Mad Samplar Books in the U.S. has a great selection of books on Assisi Embroidery.

Assisi Embroidery Part One

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