Thursday, August 19, 2010

Library mouse (04): Beth Russell's William Morris Needlepoint

Oh, happiness. Yesterday, Beth Russell’s William Morris Needlepoint (Conran Octopus, 1995) arrived. Apart from only whishing close to a reference to his leonine bursts of rage and tickling an interest in his poetry, the book gives a good biographical picture of (fascinating) Morris, while it explores examples of his work and Russell’s adaptations of them (complete with diagrams to follow), which was the point, anyway. (For more about Morris, see my: Apart from delighting in all the images, I also learned two interesting things, and the seed of a much desired future project was planted....More...

What did I learn? First, as I had been coming to suspect, William Morris detested my other design inspiration, Owen Jones, as too rigid (though they do have in common at least their original reliance on natural principles, I can understand Morris’ opinion, but there still are lots and lots of inspirational, helpful and challenging things to be had from Jones, who would have had—I suspect—a few criticisms of his own for Morris, so I’ll be writing about Jones, later). Next, in line with Morris’ own wishes to avoid copying for himself and for his clients doing their own handwork, Russell more actively adapts Morris’ designs to the project at hand (and rightfully so) than the faithful Morris spirit might imply at first.

What about the seeds of my much desired future needlepoint project?

I don’t love, I *adore* William Morris, and *really* want to do a Morris needlepoint. Whenever I went into a bookstore, even for something entirely different, I would pass through the hobby section, hunting for a book on Morris in needlepoint. Found one, but it seemed much too costly. Sigh. Back it went onto the shelf. This went on for years and years. Why not try in eBay? Great idea, but it would flash into my head when I was away from the computer. This, too, went on for years. Recently, the two finally coincided, and I found this and other books, snapped up on the spot.

Ahhhh, finally Morris designs to caress and needlepoint. So many beautiful designs, but one I liked for something, another for something else, and—because the designs are quite complicated—my desire to lazily work up a pre-existing pattern warred unsuccessfully with my urge to be creative. Results? Stasis. The inner “Yes!” switch just wasn’t flipping. It finally did last night.

My future Morris project flashed into existence in my head. Now I “just” have to translate it into a StitchPainter diagram. The line forms at the back, Mr. Project, there are at least three other needlepoint projects already waiting patiently.

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