pound;16.95 from Thames Hudson
Tel: 020 7845 5000
If ever a book "does what it says on the tin", this is it. World Textiles is a visually stunning publication, brimming with well-chosen illustrations that are accompanied by interesting and succinct commentaries.
It's not a manual to teach the skills of traditional textile production but each page ably tells the reader how the fabrics or accessories were - and in many parts of the world still are - made. From the outset it's clear and comprehensive, and the contents page immediately whets your appetite with its attractive and logical invitation to what awaits within.
At the back, the glossary, further reading, collections, and index pages are comprehensive and user-friendly. Once the reader has pored over the pages and started to appreciate the dazzling variety, the task of referral is quick and easy.
The fact that the book's content is confined to traditional methods of textile creation means that the only mechanically produced fabrics included are woven; the first looms going back many thousands of years with basic weaving technology little changed today. It was not until the late 16th-century that the first knitting frame was invented, followed by the explosion of mechanisation during the industrial revolution that radically changed global clothing and textiles production.
There is no shortage of publications that explain these modern manufacturing methods and the plethora of 21st-century technology, but this book makes a refreshing change. It is an excellent complementary publication for anyone who wants to know the origins of textiles which, with food production and the construction of dwellings, are the world's oldest professions, contrary to popular belief.
World Textiles is written and illustrated in a way that invites the reader to browse page by page, continually discovering something different yet familiar, as so many of the world's greatest traditional designs have since been replicated by modern mass production methods, though usually failing to retain the passion and skill that went into the creation of the originals. The superb illustrations clearly show that the originators of many of today's best-sellers made their wares through sweat and toil, oblivious of what outstanding works of art they were creating.
This book gives students of all ages and disciplines a wonderful insight into the ingenuity and inventive skills of these people, who made textile products over many centuries and across all cultures. It will support studies in the humanities, art, design, science and technology, and will remain a thoroughly enjoyable addition to any library or collection.
* The author works for EMTEX - the East Midlands Textiles Association - which promotes closer links between the textiles industry and education and produces a range of posters and resource packs for KS34. For further details, see www.emtex.org.ukeducation.asp