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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Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork by Jane Nicholas – a Pre Review!


Amazon Books

I am So Excited that Jane Nicholas has a new book coming out!

I’m a huge fan of Jane’s beautiful work, and I love all of her books and projects. I have to admit, if Jane had groupies, I’d be one of them. (Come to think of it, maybe she does have groupies…?)

So yes, you can imagine that I was pretty excited to find out that Jane has a new book coming out. I was even more excited when an advanced copy landed in my mailbox!

The new book is Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork, and guess what? In many ways, it’s not like any of her other books.

Let’s look at it together, so you know what to expect when it hits the shelves!

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

If you have any of Jane’s other books, or if you have perused her website or worked any of her projects, then you are familiar with her style. It is recognizable. If you are new to Jane Nicholas, I encourage you to visit her webpage and to explore her books.

My three favorites are Medieval Flora, Stumpwork & Goldwork Embroidery Inspired by Turkish, Syrian, and Persian Tiles, and Shakespeare’s Flowers in Stumpwork, all of which I’ve reviewed, but there are more! And they all feature beautiful stumpwork, goldwork, or combination projects.

Japanese Motifs is a slightly different book from her previous books in several ways, so we will chat about that as we look at the book more closely.

Right off the bat, though, I’d say that this new book, more than any of her other books, is suitable for beginners. Most of Jane’s other books seem geared more towards folks who have had some experience with goldwork, stumpwork, or both. A determined beginner, while learning much from her books, might find the projects and instructions a little challenging.

This book, which features gorgeous projects, comes across as much more detailed in instruction, with visuals that make the book very accessible, even if you have not had experience with either goldwork or stumpwork.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

The projects in the book are beautiful. Each one reflects Jane’s touch and style (yes, we do get the whimsical bug here and there!).

The formally stylized designs are just that – more formal than many of the projects in her previous books. Even the projects in the Tiles book, which focuses on stylized designs inspired by painted tiles in Middle Eastern art, are not quite as formal as the designs in this Japanese Motifs book.

This is not surprising, as there is always a hint of formality in stylized Japanese art. The designs in this book reflect (and respect) that formality.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

The subject of the book is the Japanese mon or family crest.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

These elegant symbols have a rich history. Today, they are used primarily for decorative purposes. Jane has selected twelve (out of more than 4,000 recorded designs) to recreate in goldwork, stumpwork, or a combination of both.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

The book begins with a history of Japanese family crests, and then it moves into the needful information for working the projects. We start with information on tools and equipment that you’ll need…

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

…and then we move into a stitch directory covering many pages of stitches in easy-to-read diagrams.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

From here, we move into techniques that include the preliminaries, like preparing your ground fabric, transferring your design, working with wire, various goldwork and stumpwork techniques, and all the foundational instruction you need in order to complete any of the projects.

This section is a goldmine, whether you’re working the projects in the book or not. They’re full of useful tips on setting up any kind of similar project. You’ll learn a lot here, whether you plan to embroidery one of the designs or you just plan to soak up some inspiration from them.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

All the techniques are accompanied by very clear diagrams and very clear text.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

Then we move into the projects! As mentioned, there are twelve altogether.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

With each project, you’ll find photos of the finished design, as well as close up photos of various parts of the design.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

There’s a thorough materials list…

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

…and then each project is broken down into the order of work, taking the reader step-by-step through the project to completion.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

The instruction is delivered via lots of diagrams (and text), with close-up photos of the embroidered section that’s being covered, so that you can see the method and techniques in the diagram, along with the desired outcome in the photo.

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

The swirled floral designs – you’ll find the cherry blossom, the iris, the peony, the lotus, and the morning glory – range from delicate…

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

…to bold.

They each feature a bug (or two), and they have a distinct “Jane Nicholas” look to them. They are really gorgeous!

Jane Nicholas: Japanese Motifs in Stumpwork & Goldwork

At the end of the book, you will find the design templates ready to trace or photocopy. They are presented in the actual size, with all the separate parts that need to be transferred for any of the stumpwork elements.

The motifs are small! I was surprised when I turned the page and saw the templates. They each fit in about a 4″ square. Most of the designs are no larger than 2.5″ in any direction. This makes them perhaps a little more challenging, but at the same time, small enough to be manageable in a reasonable amount of time. They aren’t huge projects. I love that!!!

Where to Find It

The book is ready for pre-order here in the States, coming in November, and you can find it listed here on my Amazon recommendations page, under Browse my Amazon Recommendations. This list contains embroidery books that I own, that I recommend, that are available through Amazon because that’s the main outlet the publishers use for those books (and that’s why they aren’t available in my shop).

If you are in Australia, no doubt Jane will carry the book on her website, and I’m sure she will also carry kits for the projects in the book. (I don’t know this for a fact, but she normally has kits for the projects in her books.) Keep an eye on her website!

In fact, if you’re in Australia, keep an eye on her website for class listings, too. She offers classes in Bowral, NSW, and man oh man! You’re lucky if you can go! (See. I could be a groupie.)

This article contains an affiliate link to my Amazon Recommendations page, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through that link, at no extra expense to you. Thank you!


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(5) Comments

  1. I have several of her books and have been eagerly awaiting this one. I have made four of theses already though her classes back home in Oz. It’s on my wish list for Christmas.

  2. Having done many of Jane’s classes over the years I am so looking forward to purchasing another of her books. She is a wonderful teacher and so very generous with her knowledge. Thanks for the review Mary I can now add this book to my Christmas present list

  3. OMG—more exquisite designs from Jane! The Slate Butterfly & Green Japanese Ginger Plant are calling my name. When she taught at EGA seminar (ages ago!), I was lucky enough to get a seat in her dragonfly class & shared my Madeira Astro, a variegated metallic thread that she had not used before. One of her best hints was using extremely dark purple in place of black in a design. We used silk threads in class & her dark purple really glowed next to black, that looked rather dull by comparison. She’s an excellent teacher so if the opportunity presents itself, your readers should sign up immediately!!

  4. You’re right, her classes are phenomenal!
    I’m lucky enough to be in Australia (in Melbourne) and once-in-a-while Jane comes down to Melbourne to offer a workshop.
    The one I did was the grasshopper from this book and it’s fantastic.
    Jane is a genuinely lovely woman who makes it really fun to sit and do embroidery in a group of other lovely embroiderers.
    She has her lesson plan set and breaks the piece down into bite-size bits. It’s evident she was once a teacher and has lost none of her ability.
    I echo your words, if you ever get the chance to go to one of her workshops – DO IT. Doesn’t matter what the topic or technique, you’ll learn something.

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