Becky Hogg, Search Press (Turnbridge Wells, UK, 2010) ISBN:978-1-84448-551-2, $21.95
This book is one in a series on different techniques done under the banner of the Royal School of Needlework. In fact the author has both studied and worked there. This book is an excellent introduction to Blackwork with a strong emphasis on the use of the technique as a fill for outlined shapes and for shading.
The stitched examples lavishly illustrate the book. Many are astonishingly complex and show off the use of Blackwork in classic and contemporary designs. Your jaw will drop (mine did) at the level of detail and shading you can get with this technique.
The book begins with a history of Blackwork, then follows with a discussion of materials and how to frame your fabric so it is tight. Here they use a type of traditional embroidery frame called a slate frame, where the fabric is bound with twill tape and then laced onto the frame (as an aside, this is about the best explanation of how to do this I’ve seen).
Then it’s on to topics specifically applied to Blackwork. You’ll learn about design principles, transferring the design, the two main stitches used in Blackwork and other stitches that are used for outlining and emphasis.
There is an extensive section on Blackwork patterns, with each pattern show both stitched and charted. As is traditional in Blackwork, the stitches are shown on the lines and the diagrams are not numbered. Over 30 Blackwork patterns are shown, along with some darning patterns. Throughout you’ll see examples of completed Blackwork with short explanations. Many of the patterns here are simple, but they do a wonderful job of conveying texture and shading and would be lovely done on needlepoint canvas.
The next section discusses shading, which is a fundamental technique when using Blackwork in needlework. You’ll learn about the two main ways to shade:by changing the thread thickness or by breaking up the pattern. You can also combine the two to get even more subtle effects.
The final section has ideas for how you can expand your use of this technique.
The book is spiral bound in a hard cover so it can lay flat.
Although there are no projects for you to stitch in this book, it is a wonderful guide to traditional Blackwork and will fill you with ideas.