While digging through my bookshelves lately, trying to arrange books by “type,” I realized that one of my favorite types of needlework books are not necessarily needlework books at all. They are what I call “resource” books, usually dealing with design ideas. I’ve have quite a few of these types of books – books that struck me as useful sources of inspiration for embroidery designs.
Some of these books are not directly “design” books; they contain elements that can be converted into embroidery designs, or that inspire color combinations, or texture combinations and so forth – all useful stuff that can be interpreted or converted into elements in embroidery. And some of these books have designs that can be copied directly from the books and used in personal needlework projects. If the books are still under copyright, of course, the designs can’t be reproduced or sold, but they still make great designs for personal projects.
In the latter category falls the book Italian Renaissance Textile Designs by Dolores Andrew. This is a book that contains line drawings and interesting patterns that can be used directly as embroidery designs on their own, or as elements of larger embroidery projects.
The book is a paperback book with the feel of a nice quality coloring book, kind of like the books published by Dover and other similar publishers, though it’s published by Stemmer House, not Dover. But if you’re familiar with Dover, you’ll know what I mean by the “feel” of the book.
The book begins with a few pages about Renaissance textiles, with some historical information and so forth. Don’t expect a deep and detailed history here – it’s an introduction, and that’s all.
But the real meat of the books is in the line drawings that follow the introduction. Aside from the few pages at the beginning, the rest of the book – which is not really extensive, but is quantity enough – is full of what I would call “cartoon” drawings, or line drawings inspired by various textiles studied by the author.
There are elements that will shout “Assisi Embroidery” at first glance, mixed in with elements that would be suitable for crewel designs, silk work, and other embroidery techniques.
Some designs in the book reflect the ecclesiastical textiles of the Renaissance period.
And there are also plenty of line drawings of difference Renaissance style needle laces throughout the book.
Italian Renaissance Textile Designs makes a nice design resource book for those looking for embroidery ideas. In the book, you’ll find many embroiderable borders, motifs, repeat elements, and patterns that can be adapted or used as is in your own needlework projects. It’s not meant to be a huge tome, full of detailed historical information. It’s very time specific, with a fairly good range of different types of designs from that time period. While it’s not full of information, that’s ok, because it’s not meant to be. It’s a good (and inexpensive) book for those looking for ready-drawn designs that can be used in different types of needlework pursuits.