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Mark Making: Fresh Inspiration for Quilt and Fiber Artists Paperback – August 27, 2013
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"Helen provides a wonderful insight into her process. The book is well-organized, following a logical progression from observation through interpretations to experimenting and ultimately to making unique personal statements in her art. Her writing is clear and there are wonderful photographs of her inspirations and the resulting artwork. Although this is not a how-to book, where there is an example of a particular stitch, there is a clear explanation of how to do it." --Mixed Media Art Magazine
"Informative sections on hand- and machine-stitching will aid you in your overall designs, as will tips on keeping sketches and journals, and transforming found items into fabric surface designs." --Craft Ideas
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Well, if it's so hard to describe, then what purpose does Mark Making serve? Maybe better questions to ask are "How do I want to be uniquely inspired?" and "How do I want to convey that inspiration in textiles?" Parrott very kindly makes her book YOUR book.
Parrott's advice on the first question is to look around at just the surfaces everywhere, disconnected from what supports them and what we assume about them. Disregard the background and imagine the surface image floating above its base. How would you draw it? If you draw it, you can mark it. And if you mark it, you can make something no one has ever done before, even though nature does it all the time. Parrott provides nurturing guidance on scouting and observing marks; she also emphasizes the importance of documenting them through photographs, journals, and sketches.
As for how to transmute that drawn image into tangible art, Parrott uses both paper and textiles, though paper is really just an intermediate step toward ultimate expression in textiles. It starts with editing and selecting from your array of photos and/or paper incarnations, then previewing and experimenting with isolating parts from the whole.
Finally comes the magical transcription to textiles. Just a few basic stitches and knots will literally make your mark on fabric. An example of how extraordinary Parrott's concept can be is the piece called "Surface Inventions". Here, a simple hand-made knot or tie is repeated thousands of times to create a black and white surface that looks faintly like Asian or Middle Eastern script.
My favorite application is "Radiant Miniatures", with its wood-block-style rose petal unfurling. (And yet it also reminds me of water-blistered skin. Gross, I know, but that was my first impression. After reading Mark Making, I am totally at peace with water blisters as a source of inspiration.) It's simple yet made more complex as a series of tile-like squares. My only wish for improvement with the book is that Parrott would share more about each piece. I'd love to hear more about her own personal trek through each phase of creation and her thoughts on the finished works.
Mark Making is surprisingly technical, though not exhaustively so. It includes block printing, monoprinting, and resists. The tools and resources are quite basic, yet are used inventively and lengthily. (Parrott states that such stitched projects can take MONTHS to complete.) If you've got a drawing pad and a few sewing notions, you can start today. A great deal of print is devoted to motivation and exploration, not just technique. Parrot even includes a brief section on "Health and Safety".
This is not a project-oriented how-to book. It's a process and technique book, one that says not "How can I make the exact same thing?" but "OMG look at what I can do with this". And yet Mark Making is also not a pure gallery book, in fact, the finished pieces are not really the highlight. And THAT is what is astonishing, that works in-progress or samples made purely for illustration are so very breathtaking. Think of how amazing YOUR endeavor might be.
Fortunately, I have a nice library of legitimate art quilt innovation. I don't know if I'll be updating it much, tho.
When I first got the book I was disappointed because the pictures made it all look simplistic. But I read through the text and found a lot of good content. I changed how I approached one of my pieces.
Ms. Parrott takes you through the process of finding inspiration, designing marks using a variety of drawing and print techniques and translating it to stitch. Everything used int the book is easily accessible to the fiber artist. No fancy items one can only get in Britain. She presents about 3 or 4 basic,simple stitches and shows how different textures and looks can be created with variations. At the end of the book she walks you through her design process of one of her pieces.