by Laura Euler. Schiffer, June 2013. 176 p. ill. ISBN 9780764344091 (cl.), $49.99.

Reviewed January 2014
Bronwyn Dorhofer, Access Services and Outreach Librarian, University of Oregon Portland Library and Learning Commons, dorhofer@uoregon.edu

In Arts and Crafts Embroidery, Laura Euler guides us through the history of aesthetic surface embroidery and design which emerged as an off-shoot of the Arts and Crafts movement during the years 1860-1910. The book begins with an introduction to the defining principles of the Arts and Crafts movement and discusses in chronological detail the important figures and personalities who worked to define the period. Readers familiar with the movement will recognize the names of William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Walter Crane and Gustav Stickley, among others. Considerable attention is also provided in the discussion of lesser-known female craftswomen such as May Morris, Ann Macbeth, and Jessie Newbery, who all worked tirelessly to establish art embroidery as a credible art form within their respective regions.

The scope of this book is limited to Scottish, English and American design houses popular during the era, such as the Glasgow School, Morris and Company, and the American Craftsman style popularized by Gustav Stickley. Euler discusses the major aesthetic differences between each firm, though most design houses prominently featured figural and floral motifs largely credited to the medieval tradition. Euler also takes care to provide numerous illustrations throughout each chapter to demonstrate the major stylistic trends popular during the time.

As mentioned in the introduction, Euler explains that she is “not an academic,” so serious researchers may be surprised to find neither accompanying footnotes nor citations to support the various statements made within the chapters. The real focus of the publication is the numerous high-quality photographs, needlework diagrams, and period advertisements used throughout the pages, many of which were reproduced from the author’s own collections. Euler’s primary goal with this publication is to celebrate art embroidery as the most personal and immediate art form created from this movement, and to provide readers with a large variety of images to demonstrate the adaptability of this craft. There are over 380 images contained within this text, many from scarce periodicals published during the era.

Ultimately, this book will be of value to those interested in the study of decorative embroidery and textiles, aesthetic dress, the existence of professional guilds and colleges, and how the art of embroidery fits into a wider context of nineteenth-century design and craft history.

Copyright © 2013 ARLIS/NA