Explore Needlework History with Books on American Textiles, American Western Wear, and Japanese Temari

There is no end to the places you’ll go when you open an issue of PieceWork. In the July/August 2009 issue, Allison Mackin reviewed three books that explore needlework history. Learn about early American textiles, American western wear, and Japanese Temari with no passport required.

needlework history

Textiles in America 1650–1870
By Florence M. Montgomery
New York: W. W. Norton, 2007. Hardbound, 412 pages, $50. ISBN 978-0-393-73224-5.

This beautifully compiled book (a reprint of the original 1984 edition) examines textiles used in early American homes, beginning with a brief history of furnishing practices in England and America and continuing with discussions of bed hangings, window curtains, and upholstery. Detailed definitions paired with high-quality images of cloth swatches, merchants’ papers, paintings, and other original documents compose the vast and informative dictionary section of the book, making Textiles in America 1650–1870 an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of textiles.

needlework history

Real Western Wear: Beaded Gauntlets from the William P. Healey Collection
Athens, Georgia: Georgia Museum of Art and University of Georgia, 2007. Hardbound, 136 pages, $40. ISBN 978-0-915977-65-9.

This catalog for a 2007–2008 exhibition of the same name opens with essays by Joyce M. Szabo, professor of art history at the University of New Mexico, and Steven L. Grafe, curator of American Indian Art at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, detailing the evolution of Native American gauntlet gloves in North America. Stunning, full-page photographs showcase the boldly decorated gauntlets made by Plains, Plateau, and Great Basin peoples at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The accompanying text explores the patterns used and explains the artists’ motivations for using human forms, animals, floral, geometric, and patriotic designs.

needlework history

Temari Gifts: Japanese Thread Balls and Jewelry
By Diana Vandervoort
Santa Barbara, California: Biangle Books. 2008. Softbound, 160 pages, $27.99. ISBN 978-0-9716-5871-4.

The tradition of Japanese Temari (handball) is centuries old, but Temari Gifts: Japanese Thread Balls and Jewelry brings this art form to a contemporary audience. The book provides clear, step-by-step instructions for creating the base of the Temari ball, along with eighteen decorative patterns to try. Cherry blossoms, a mariner’s compass, and autumn maples are a few of the inspirations for the intricate patterns. Also included are designs for earrings, necklaces, and pins inspired by Temari patterns.

—Allison Mackin

For more about needlework history from around the world, read “Patterns and Symbols of Embroidered Textiles Around the World.”


Discover more historical needlework in PieceWork!

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