Hoopla: the Art of Unexpected Embroidery: Review

Hoopla: the Art of Unexpected Embroidery, by Vancouver-based artist Leanne Prain, introduces readers to an alternative world of embroidery. A world where embroidery is not just limited to dated pieces found in your grandma’s living room, instead it features an array of artists and artworks ranging from Ray Materson, an ex-con who learned how to stitch in prison to a unique project entitled Tattooed Baby Dolls (yes, is it exactly how it sounds and yes, it is flipping awesome!).

Just browsing through Hoopla, I was captivated by the abundance of beautiful photographs and illustrations, a necessity that all craft books should have in order to showcase artwork and to teach the tutorials properly. The book is designed with care and is truly written for the right people, in fact the book is even dedicated to them: “This book is dedicated to those who embroider and those who wish to learn.”

Hoopla is divided into different chapters; each chapter presenting a different style of embroidery, along with interviews with artists that practice that style. We see how each artist has taken this medium, transformed it into their own and created amazingly intricate narratives. As a bonus, once the interviews and imagery captivate you and spark that need to embroider, the book includes well-written tutorials and templates to help guide you along the process. I was definitely inspired from reading the book and lately found myself adding embroidery techniques into my own artwork.

The book is excellently formatted; it is organized neatly so that readers can make sense of all the material and you never feel like you are reading a textbook or an encyclopedia of embroidery.There are limited books on the market about the alternative style of embroidery, especially about creative craft and activism. Hoopla definitely fills that gap and will create an interest for more books like it. After all Leanne’s previous book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, which she co-wrote with Mandy Moore, is already in its second printing.The division of each ‘style’ by chapter allows you to jump back and forth throughout the book and read from different starting points and still understand the material.

“Paulo and Stella” by Esther Oh, one of the tutorials included in Hoopla.

Hoopla is easy to understand and fun to flip through. It allows you to experience art and crafts unexpectedly, but in a good way. It presents embroidery as a bright, bold, smart and sophisticated art form.  Just as promised, Hoopla is a craft book with attitude.

**Leanne is currently traveling North America to promote Hoopla. See if she is coming to your city here.
** Buy directly from Arsenal Pulp Press and receive a free silk-screened embroidery hoop and a subversive embroidery lapel button! (while supplies last)

Hoopla: the Art of Unexpected Embroidery
Author: Leanne Prain
Photography: Jeff Christenson
Price: $29.95 CAD $29.95 USD/ Trade Paper
ISBN: 9781551524061
408 pages
September 2011
Arsenal Pulp Press

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