Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery

Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery : The Art & Embroidery of Jan Messent

4.2 (29 ratings by Goodreads)
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This book combines everything held dear to the author's heart in a single volume - embroidery, writing, artwork, history and books. Her beautifully executed creations combine myriad materials, including hand-stitched threads, glued papers, fabrics, fibres, paints and beads, and are presented here as a series of 'altered books', each representing a chapter that follows on from the last, and each exploring one of the major themes of the book, including textiles, stitches, clothing and accessories. Historical facts are ingeniously interwoven with contemporary renditions of ancient artworks, bringing to life the ancient skills of Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon women, and celebrating the centuries-old tradition of embroidery in England that has served as a foundation for present-day excellence.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 144 pages
  • 282 x 306 x 32mm | 1,238.3g
  • Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 250 Illustrations, color
  • 1844484092
  • 9781844484096
  • 28,912

Table of contents

A unique book that combines contemporary interpretations of ancient art and embroideries with historical narrative.

Beautiful colour photographs throughout.

A fabulous collection of works by one of the UK's most highly respected embroiderers.
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Review quote

June 10

This is a large hardback book with the feel of a historical tome, which is entirely appropriate given its subject matter and content. It is a history book, history of embroidery during this period, an art study, embroidery and instruction manual all in one. Jan Messent presents us with her interpretation of the Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon period in a series of works in the form of immaculately executed handmade books and artefacts. Every art form you could possibly imagine is included here - stitching, weaving, painting, dyeing, collage, line drawing and crocheting, and you can only imagine the huge and amounts of time and effort invested in these pages to create works so lovingly made and painstakingly recorded.

It is clear that these pieces are all inspired by the art and textiles of the time (although the latter is not so easily preserved) and their influence is obvious, but all the work has a very contemporary look. Attention to detail is spectacular and can be seen in the stunning photography throughout. It is here that the advantage of a larger book size becomes apparent. You are able to see all the pages of the books on a double spread, which allows close scrutiny of the work. You can literally see every stitch. Coupled with the details given of how the pieces were achieved, it is a very accessible and informative book, giving ample instruction on how you could achieve (or aspire to) works in this vein. There are also patterns for some of the pieces of work, instructions on how to make them. A lot of the materials presented here are available from local craft shops, with recognisable yarns, threads and materials that the average embroiderer or textile artist would be familiar with.

I can't stress how lovely this book is to look at, and how packed with information and guidance on this time of history it is. A wealth of varied art forms are contained here (too many to mention) and well as the seven major works of art featured in the handmade books. This is a book that could last you a lifetime in study; every time I have looked at it, I notice tiny details previously missed. These are the kinds of handmade books that most of us aspire to. To have a book like this documenting them in such fine detail is a must for anyone with a love of this kind of work. * Workshop On The Web * Dec 10

For modern and traditional embroiderers alike Jan Messent hardly needs an introduction. She has written several books on the subject of embroidery. This book again is greatly inspiring, and should be seen as a picture book rather then a workbook. Above all it is an educational book, as the reader can watch Jan Messent over the shoulder while she develops her design from source all the way to the final embroidery piece. The book starts with historical background and research, followed by several fabric books, page after paged filled with rich embrodery based on the respective period. I would recommend this book to all textile and embroidery enthusiasts. * Quilt & Zo * Jun/Jul 10

Combining contemporary interpretations of ancient embroideries and art with a historical narrative, this book features an extensive collection of unique pieces by the artist, including unique recreations of Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon artefacts. Touching on everything from textiles and clothing to accessories and stitching, it celebrates the rich history of embroidery in the UK and features a range of beautiful, awe-inspiring photography throughout. Designs incorporate a diverse selection of materials, with hand-stitched threads, glued papers, fabrics and beads all making an appearance. * Craft Business * July/Aug 10

This is Jan's first book for many years and it truly is something special. Lavishly illustrated in full colour this large volume combines Jan's love of history, artwork, embroidery and books, taking us on a journey through time. We examine the traditions and skills of our forebears, which form the foundations of our stitching heritage, through a series of Jan's beautiful and highly covetable books.

Whilst not strictly a 'how-to-do-it' book, we are guided through techniques, methods and materials both traditional and contemporary, and are invited to explore numerous inspiring presentation possibilities.

Jan's delightful illustrations and the beautiful, detailed photography combine to make this a timeless volume and one to inform, inspire and enjoy - again and again. This is definitely a must-have book for anyone passionate about embroidery and mixed media. * East Kent Embroiderers' Guild * July 10

I should think that all embroiderers and yarncrafters have heard of Jan Messent; her work has been praised and loved for many years. Now here is a book showing her fascination with early embroidery, all presented in a series of altered books and other artefacts. This is a lush, large format hardcover that will look great residing on any coffee table. You and your guests won't be able to resist taking a good long look at it and being impressed with the standard of the work, the sheer imagination, the research and of course Search Press' beautiful photography and presentation. It is not a book of projects but the culmination in words and pictures of the author's longtime love affair with the subject. However, it is the sort of book that is likely to spark an interest in altered books and in making them about one's own crafting passion. The author covers a lot of ground in here, from showcasing what early embroidery looked like, through to the clothes and accessories people adorned with it, ecclesiastical and royal uses, how it differed between the various peoples covered and much more. There are excerpts from old documents, thumbnail portraits of historical people, descriptions of the author's own processes and even some templates to help those who want to have a go themselves. It all rather defies description, but it is impossible not to be impressed and become even more so on reading the text and discovering not only about the subject but how much research has gone into doing it. I can imagine that this book will be of great use also to all those on textile courses having to put together display boards or books of samples; having done this myself I can see now how to do it properly! Who knows, maybe in time it might get filed in the bookcase and your coffee table groaning instead under the weight of your own work...highly recommended. * Myshelf.com * June/July 10

This book celebrates the art of Jan Messent through recreations of Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon artefacts, encompassing embroidery, writing, artwork, history and books. Her creations combine myriad materials, inlcuding hand-stitched threads, glued papers, fabrics, fibres, paints and beads, and presented as a series of 'altered books'. A unique book that combines contemporary interpretations of ancient art and embroideries with historical narrative. Beautiful colour photographs are displayed throughout this 144 page book. * Needle & Handicrafts *
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About Jan Messent

Jan Messent qualified as a teacher in the mid-50s and, after teaching Art, History and English, became deeply involved with embroidery as an art form. As a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, she taught embroidery design to its members, wrote and illustrated design books, and lectured worldwide. Her last embroidery book was about the Bayeux Tapestry. She became interested in the experimental use of knitting and crochet and hoped, by her books on the subject, to open up new dimensions in the creative use of yarn. Now, having retired from lecturing, Jan writes historical fiction full-time, embroidering as a side-line, reading, painting, and listening to good music.
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Rating details

29 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 55% (16)
4 17% (5)
3 24% (7)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)

Our customer reviews

This is such a beautiful book. Jan's exquisite, original work is brilliantly photographed and presented. The careful research and clear writing style is a delight. Jan's passion for delving into the history of British needlework and her adaptations of historical methods into contemporary works of fabric art are inspirational. From someone downunder who is unable to see the original works from which Jan draws her inspiration, a big thank you to this talented embroiderer and teacher for her concise descriptions and for undertaking the task of creating this book, which is a treasured addition to my collection.show more
by Erica Marsden
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is so full of inspiration & great ideas. And it is a pleasure to own. If Jan reads this? I would like her to know that I have found her book amazing & very inspirational. Thank You.show more
by Elizabeth Peters
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