The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones was produced in the 1800′s as a representative collection of the prominent catagories of ornamental art. For years, this work was considered “the” classic ornamental art resource for students and designers alike, as well as a masterpiece of color printing…
The thousands of examples of ornamental motifs in the work come from all the ages and empires of history. They can be adapted in form or style to embroidery or textile techniques.
You can order the Grammar of Ornament in different places around the web – probably the most thorough digital source being from Direct Imagination. The $199 price tag can be a bit intimidating, though.
You can also find a CD-ROM version of Grammar of Ornament through Amazon at a little more reasonable price, though lacking the extras promised by Direct Imagination.
But, if you just want to LOOK at the images, to browse through the book for ideas for borders, backgrounds, shapes, images, etc., you can do it right online for free. The images won’t reproduce all that well for graphic work (if you’re wanting to do this, you should invest in the Direct Imagination edition), but you get a good representation of what’s in the book. You’ll find it at University of Wisconsin’s Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture – where you’ll find a huge collection of online book on the decorative arts throughout the ages. You’ll find the online version of Grammar of Ornament here.