Book Review: Hoopla - The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, by Leanne Prain
In Prain's embellished and inventive world, interview subjects range from trained animators to reformed criminals, from environmental activists to gallery artists. Here we have embroidery as TV time-killer, as a celebration of the past and as an exercise in pure color.
Most appealingly, Prain is resolute in the presentation of embroidery as an artform that's economical, un-fussy, and endlessly expressive. In this sense Hoopla is the perfect follow-up to Prain's 2009 tour-de-force Yarn Bombing, co-written with Mandy Moore - (you can read our review of that fantastic volume here.)
Reading Hoopla, you really get the feeling that, with a needle, some thread, and a thrift store purchase, you could emulate these creators and make something truly beautiful. Plus you'll discover artists whose careers you'll want to follow for years.
What's it about? Anything and everything you can do to produce a design with needle and thread. The variations on embroidery - both traditional and non-traditional - shown here will astound you.
The projects: a massive, fanciful sweep of the possibilities embroidery offers. Projects range from DIY bags with Siamese twins embroidered upon 'em, to Metrocard pouches with a pretty convincing representation of the card itself stitched on, to art objects that will cheer you up and make you think.
What else is there? Interview after interview with major artists in this movement, including Ray Materson, Mr X Stitch, Jenny Hart, Richard Saja, and many more. There's an excellent guide to all of the stitches and materials used to create the projects in this book. There's also lots of historical and cultural information about embroidery.
Who's it for? As a fantastic combination of an art book and a craft guide, this book has a dual audience. Readers keen to find out about the edgiest frontier of crafty art will find plenty to feast their eyes on. Ditto anyone who wants to take a sewing project, a thrift store find or a plain piece of cloth to the next level.
This book will particularly excite any crafter who likes his or her craft with a side of personal history or political activism.
Fancy trying out one of the patterns in Hoopla? Through the generosity of Hoopla's publisher - Canada's uber-crafty Arsenal Pulp Press - we've been given the ability to offer you a download of the Home Invasion project, above. Just visit this link, and get stitching!