La Broderie – it’s the title of a book about (you guessed it) embroidery.
I can’t tell you, “Go get this book! Add it to your needlework library!” It’s out of print. The copies that are out there are a little expensive (though you might find a bargain one here and there).
The book is written in French. If you can read French and you can get your paws on this book, you’re in for a double treat. If you can’t read French, well…you’re still in for a treat!
La Broderie: Histoire & Technique de la broderie libre, (Embroidery: the history & technique of free embroidery), written with Pascal Payen-Appenzeller with the participation of DMC and the Brocard Collection, is one of those book that you might come across one serendipitous day at a used book shop or library sale – and if you do, you’ll know to snatch it up!
And besides, since it’s Monday morning, I figured we might as well start the week with something to salivate over.
I happened upon La Broderie entirely by chance. I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t even know about it. But there it was, in front of me, at a used book sale.
It was one of those used book sales devoid of all interest. I was bored. I was leaving a lot sooner than I thought I would. The bags that I carried with me to fill with bookish treasures hung limp and empty on my arm.
Suddenly, a brilliant light shone upon a distant table. I heard the heavens singing a glorious song. I looked, and lo! The Book!
I said to myself, Self, this is Meant to Be. You have been destined from all eternity to arrive in this spot at this moment, to see this book.
I bought it forthwith. For practically nothing. A couple dollars, maybe. Really, it was completely fortuitous.
Don’t you just love it when that happens?!
(There was no light, by the way. No angel choirs. In fact, my sister saw the book first and yelled across the room something like, “Hey, you want this?” just as I was ducking out the door. It was hardly angelic song. But it was fortuitous.)
And by the way, the end papers on the inside of the book are worth the book – sumptuous silver threads encrusting a piece of tulle – and close up enough that you can see all the details.
And in fact, that’s The Thing about this book: the photos are great!
Many of the photos are delightfully macro – so close-up that you can see the details of stitches and threads on historical pieces that otherwise, you’d never be able to see this close.
The text in the first part of the book concentrates on the history of embroidery and on various museum pieces that illustrate that history.
About half-way through the book, we reach the instructional part, which covers stitches, design transfer, and the like. The stitch instructions are very clear, with drawn diagrams and photos.
There’s information on setting up frames and a very nice spread of the various needles and tools used for hand embroidery, along with photos of historical needlework tools as well.
Did I mention the fantastic photos? This dimensional piece of embroidery – it’s more of an embroidery sculpture – is amazing! Just look at the hands! This piece is part of the Brocard Collection in Paris, Les enfants d’Édouard.
After many pages of other museum pieces, we come to the project in the book, which is a recreation of one of these bees. These are Napoleon’s bees, on the throne at Fontainebleau.
The goldwork project unfolds step by step over several pages…
…finally arriving at the finished piece, which is cut from the fabric and applied to a new background.
There’s not a lot of explanation with the project. Each progressive photo has a short line of accompanying text and that’s it. But it’s enough! You can easily follow the project without the text.
And that’s the book!
Of course, I couldn’t highlight even half the delights within, when it comes to the pieces that are photographed, but you get the idea!
The book itself is a hard-cover book, about 10″ x 11″, with 127 pages. It’s not a huge tome, but it’s a nice overview of the history of embroidery (remember, it’s in French), highlighting some incredible works, with some good bits of instruction and a really nice little goldwork project. To help you find it, it’s published by Armand Colin Éditeur, Paris, 1994. The ISBN is 2-200-21448-0.
If you come across it some day and can pick it up for a song, don’t hesitate! It’s quite the little gem!