Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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BiblioCraft: Combining Two Worthwhile Concepts in One Book


Amazon Books

Arts & Crafts. Libraries.

I love arts & crafts. I value the things made by artists and craftsmen. And I value the gift of being able to make things.

I love libraries. And I love the riches within libraries. Books are as much a part of my life as embroidery is. If people only knew the Treasure that is The Library! Whole worlds of wonder reside in the library system. It’s just a matter of knowing how to tap The Library as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for artisans and crafters.

So… when rare books librarian and knitter-stitcher-bibliophile Jessica Pigza asked me to participate in a book she was writing that combines the Library with Arts & Crafts, how could I say no?

The result of that happy combination: BiblioCraft, by Jessica Pigza. It’s a completely different twist on arts & crafts and inspiration.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

The whole point of BiblioCraft: “A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects.”

Whether a modern crafter or a traditional artisan, the reader will discover that the treasure in this book is the librarian’s inside scoop on how to make the most of the resources available in the library system, to find inspiration.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

The first part of the book is dedicated to Finding Inspiration at the Library.

Since Jessica is a rare books librarian, you can probably guess that she isn’t talking about the inspiration-seeker taking a cursory glance around the neighborhood library building, hoping that a hovering Muse will attack.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

No, no. Jessica goes into detail about how to use the library – and the whole library system, both offline and on – to find information and images on any subject of interest to the crafter and artisan.

In part one, you’ll find sections on the following topics:

  1. Different Types of Library Collections
  2. Finding the Right Library for You
  3. Planning Your Library Visit
  4. Finding What You Want at the Library
  5. The World of Digital Libraries
  6. Recommended Library Collections (this is a Fantastic Resource!)
  7. A Copyright Primer

This is not the grade-school visit to the library that we remember from our childhood days. This is an adult’s resource for getting the most out of a library. It’s invaluable, and even as a professional teacher and not-too-long-ago grad student with good library skills, I read this section eagerly and learned a lot.

It awakened in me a yearning to get back to the library again on a regular basis. It wasn’t hard to make a resolution to do so!

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

But for those who can’t make it to a library, you’ll appreciate Jessica’s insights to digital libraries and her list of digital resources for art-related research. Good stuff!

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

The second part of the book is dedicated to Projects Inspired by the Library.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Here’s where you’ll find a variety of arts and crafts projects that combine something of the library in their make-up.

For example, the pouch above (by Jodi Kahn, of Simply Sublime) is made from printed fabric from an image of decorated papers typical of the endpapers on the insides of old books.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Following the project is information on decorated papers, their history, and resources for further research.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

How about some embroidered pillows (by the author, Jessica Pigza) inspired by watermarks on handmade paper?

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

Following, you’ll find information on the making of paper and where you can find collections and images of the watermarks impressed upon handmade paper back in the day.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

How about an embroidered tea towel, with an image inspired by ornamental penmanship? (by yours truly…)

Just as with the rest of the projects, you’ll find the pattern and instructions to complete the project. You’ll also find excellent resources for collections of ornamental penmanship that are perfect for adaptation into embroidery.

Incidentally, I created two versions of the penmanship project for the book. I preferred the finished tea towel, though, and I’m glad that’s what they chose! There’s a good lesson about framing embroidery in the story – so more on that, later.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

For paper craft enthusiasts, you’ll love this quilled willow pendant by Ann Martin of All Things Paper (such a beautiful blog!), inspired by decorative bookbindings – and you’ll find all kinds of resources for exploring decorative bookbindings through the library.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

You’ll find library resources for Millinery Arts to go along with this wool rose fascinator…

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

…and library resources for map cartouches and other cartographic arts, to go along with this embroidered cartouche quilt tag by Rebecca Ringquist.

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

How about a stenciled tote, with radishes? The library connection: World War II Victory Garden art and propaganda posters. Want to know where to find Victory Garden images? It’s in the book!

BiblioCraft by Jessica Pigza

And for those into the culinary arts, cookbooks, historical cookbooks, and so forth, there’s a section of resources for you, too – accompanied by this embroidered “Cuts of Meat” table runner (which I think is adorable – must be my grandfather-the-butcher shining through).

And that’s not even all the projects – just a handful. There are over 20 different projects inspired by the library in the book, from sewing projects to paper crafts to projects inspired by heraldry to projects inspired by children’s literature. The projects are varied and fun!

With each project, you’ll find the librarian’s tips on where you can go to research the related topics and find other images, artwork, and information to inspire your own projects.

See what I mean by a different twist on the craft book? BiblioCraft is not just a “how to” project book, but oh-so-much more, because it teaches you how to use the library to glean inspiration so that you can conceive ideas for your own projects.

It’s fun! It’s informative! It’s perfect for stitchers who want to design their own pieces but aren’t sure where to look for inspiration. It’s perfect for giving as a gift to young people just getting into arts and crafts. I’m definitely giving it to my niece – not only for the fun projects, but so that she can learn the super-valuable lesson of how to use the library well.

Where to Find It

You can find BiblioCraft available through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you can find BiblioCraft through Amazon.

Worldwide with free shipping, you’ll find BiblioCraft available through Book Depository.


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(18) Comments

  1. Brilliant! I was a librarian for over 30 years, and I wish I’d thought of this!

    I’m forwarding your post to our local library so they can consider adding this to the collection, and suggest other readers do the same. Will there be there a digital edition as well?

    For readers who haven’t visited their local library in a while, you’ll be amazed at what you find. Go! Read!

  2. Oh Mrs. Corbet, I now know what I need more than anything is to plan a budget for all the wonderful things you recommend! This month I simply cannot spend anymore money. I got the hoop, storage for my threads, and “The Left Handed Embroiderer’s Companion.” The bead embroidery book with the parasol project was next on the list for next month, but now I have to prioritize, and I LOATH prioritizing.

    I can’t see how I could NOT get this book though. I worked at my former local library from ages 13-19 before I moved to another state. There is no better spot on earth than a library. Wonderful job, and bravo for celebrating the vital library system. I adore that tea towel!

  3. Dear Mary

    Sounds like a great crafts book and I love your tea towel and the embroidered cuts of meat and the darling fascinator. I love libraries as well I used to work in one and I loved it as you say there is so much more to a library then books and online libraries are a great resource as well. I say long live libraries. Thanks so much for sharing this with us and I hope you have a stitchers weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. The cover IMMEDIATELY grabed my attention! What a clever way to incorporrate both themes by using library card file boxes with cards, fat quartes and ribbons in them.

    As a child, I always had my nose in a book, and enjoyed visits to the Book Mobile and trips to the Public Library.

    I still read but divide my time between canvas and paper. I confess I spend more time at the local needlework shop, these days. Your review, has inspired me to renew my friendship with The Library.

  5. Hello Mary & all. I am a daughter and granddaughter of librarians and teachers on both sides of my “genetic pool”. Grew up with books and still collect them. These days it’s embroidery books. I am personally worried because so many libraries are having a hard time financing their endeavors. I would like to suggest to all of Mary Corbet’s followers that you take a moment and think about even a small contribution to your local library to enable many future needlework passionistas to find the histories she talks about here.

    Thank you Mary.

  6. G’day Mary,
    I’ve always been a local library regular. Actually, I think I keep them financial with my overdue fines! Those end papers are a surefire inspiration for free style embroidery, colours, shapes, the lot. I’ve always loved them but surprisingly have never thought of them embroidery wise. And a certain penmaryship embroidered design is fantastic. I’m proud to know you Mary. I was pleasantly surprised at the $A cost of the book at the Book Depository. Thanks for the beaut review. Keep ’em comin’.
    Cheers, Kath.

  7. This is fantastic! Congratulations to Jessica for coming up with an amazing book idea and then delivering in a big way, and congrats to you on your project being included! It’s wonderful!

    Just a suggestion – pass along the good word to the Library as Incubator site. This is right up their alley! 🙂


  8. Hi Mary,

    Now that the book is published will you showcase that piece you did on your website? I’ve been looking forward to seeing it ever since you gave us a tiny peek of the bird. By the way, it’s beautiful.

    I still go to the library. I love it, always have. Even enjoyed the card files. I know I’m kind of a dork.

    Yours truly,


  9. Hi Mary, you are always tempting us with lovely books. today I am going to recommend one to you. Catherine Barley has republished “Needlelace Designs and Techniques Classic and Contempory” and is selling it via http://www.catherinebarley.com (look under sales/orders). This lovely book was out of print and it was difficult to find affordable second hand copies so I am delighted that Catherine has rereleased it.

  10. I don’t post near as often w/ my thoughts & comments. I can’t thank-you enough for all the invaluable information & lessons you share w/ all of us.
    Huge! Huge Thank-you
    faithful reader

  11. Mary, what an outstanding review! Jessica’s book is a wealth of information and your tea towel embroidery is gorgeous! (You might have guessed I’d be enamored by the graceful flourishes. :)) And thanks for including my quilled pendant and for mentioning All Things Paper – I really appreciate your kind words.

  12. I have just spend some time going through your blog archives and have found the posts to be very helpful and informative – especially about the different sorts of embroidery threads. Your work is beautiful. Brilliant.
    Coincidentally, I work in an Oxford college library which is not open to the public. College libraries often house unusual things which may never be put on general view. In my blog I have begun highlighting some of textiles in these collections, starting with this bible embroidered in gold work http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk/2014/02/20/goldwork-embroidered-bible-balliol-library/.
    I would love it if you find time to visit my blog http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk and I shall certainly enjoy my continued perusal of yours. Many thanks.

  13. Hello Mary

    But the question is where did you find the new oval frames with domed glass?

    Can you give us the sources?


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