Tag Archives: Books

Lao-Tai Textiles by Patricia Cheesman

The Textiles of Xam Nuea and Muang Phuan by Patricia Cheesman
Published by Studio Naenna Co Ltd, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
ISBN: 974-272-915-8

Lao-Tai Textile book coverPatricia Cheesman has spent the past 30 years conducting in-depth research on Lao and Thai textiles. She is the author of several books and articles on the subject and has contributed to many international exhibitions.

Born in Singapore and educated in the UK, Patricia lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she teaches at the Chiang Mai University in the Thai Art Department. She works with the Weavers for the Environment Group and owns the Studio Naenna Textile Gallery where she conducts workshops in natural dyes and design.


The book measures 210mm x 285mm is bound in soft cover and has 297 pages.

This book contains everything I expect from a good textile book:

  • Maps to put the information into geographical context
  • Lao-Tai Textile book pages 3Loads of photographs. A few in black-and-white but mainly colour photographs which include detail shots of the textiles and designs, photos of the local people wearing, making and caring for the textiles, as well as lovely story pictures – photos of the community in which these textiles are made, loved and used.
  • Diagrams and sketches showing the construction of some of the garments as well as some of the weaving equipment.

All in all, this book is comprehensively illustrated and contains valuable visual documentation of the Lao-Tai textiles.

“My deepest thanks go to all the weavers, villagers and shamans who have patiently answered my enquiries, received me in their homes and guided me in my search for information.”

This opening sentence sets the tone of the whole book. Patricia shares her vast knowledge of the textiles, the history, and the people of this remote part of the world, with a tangible measure of respect, gratitude and humility. It is obvious that she not only loves her subject but that she has an affinity for the whole culture and lifestyle surrounding it.

Lao-Tai Textile book pages 2The book starts with the author’s acknowledgements and background notes on how her research was conducted, how she set the parameters for the book, and how the fact that she grew up in Asia and is fluent in the Lao language informed her research. Maps showing the current and historical ‘lay of the land’ further aids the reader to understand the subject matter.

The first three chapters of the book look at the geographical and historical setting of the Lao-Tai culture as well as how these factors influenced the different classifications of textiles in the region.

Lao-Tai Textile book pages 1Chapter 4 gives background information about the Lao-Tai culture. The different gender roles, religious ceremonies, wedding and burial ceremonies, as well as the role of local food and architecture, can be seen to influence the different textile designs.

Chapter 5 to 7 give detail insights into the different garments worn by both men and women of the different clans. These chapters are beautifully illustrated with photos and diagrams.

Lao-Tai Textile book pages 8Both the Shamanic and Buddhist religions had a great influence in the design and use of textiles and Chapter 8 goes into great detail describing and illustrating each piece of textile used during religious ceremonies.

Household textiles holds a special appeal for me and Chapter 9’s descriptions of the pillows, blankets, curtains and other household items used by the Lao-Tai people, must be my favourite part of the book.

Lao-Tai Textile book pages 10Chapter 10 is all about technique, showing detailed photos of the dyeing and weaving processes used by the artisans. It also shows how both silk and cotton are cultivated and prepared for dyeing and weaving. I love how the background colour of these pages add to the lush feel of the natural dyes.

Lao Tai Textile book pages 12Chapter 11 describes the different symbols, designs and motifs depicted in the textiles. Again beautifully illustrated with detail photographs.

The book concludes with three Appendixes explaining the intricacies of the Lao-Tai languages. Essential information in understanding the names and descriptions of the different textiles.

Lao-Tai Textile book pages 9This is a beautiful book with loads of photos. It shows the textiles from a technical point of view as well as a cultural point of view. It puts the textile in the context of its origin. The place, the people and the history. But that is not all. This is not just a look-book – it is a read-book. It is beautiful and you can keep it on your coffee table, but when you go to bed, take it with you and actually read it. It is rich in information and beautifully written. It is obvious that Patricia loves her subject matter. Both the textiles and the community form which it comes.

If you love textiles, books, travel, culture and beautiful pictures – this is your kind of book.

Order your copy today.
Read more about my visit to Studio Naenna




12 Projects Inspired by 20th-Century Art from Art Nouveau to Punk & Pop
by Kathreen Ricketson

If you are looking for a book containing quilt patterns and templates to copy, this is not the one. As the title suggests, this one is brave. And new. It makes you look at quilts with fresh eyes.

Kathreen Ricketson needs no introduction. She is the well known and well loved Australian crafter and blogger behind Whipup.net, the creative force behind Action Pack magazine for kids, and author of books like Whip Up Mini Quilts and Little Bits Quilting Bee. Kathreen sadly passed away on May 15, 2013, while fulfilling a lifelong dream of travelling around Australia with her husband and kids.

FORMAT & LAYOUT: The book measures 205 x 254mm and consists of 160 pages, bound in soft cover.

The book is filled with glorious colour photos, depicting her gorgeous family surrounded by her quilts. The sketches and illustrations were done by her husband Rob. These heartwarming photos not only illustrate and accompany her quilt designs but give us an insight into her personality and way of life. For her, work and family were all one holistic way of life and not something to be put into different boxes.

Brave New Quilts IndexCONTENT:
Although the book contains 12 projects, it does not give detailed instructions to copy. It rather inspires the reader to use their own judgement and helps them to gain confidence in their own choice of colours and pattern.

The book starts by explaining basic design principles like space, proportion, pattern and texture, line and shape, balance and symmetry, and colour.

The next chapter builds on these basics by explaining the colour theory, identifying different types, textures, prints and sources of fabric, and suggesting different design tools like mood boards and visual journals.

Brave New Quilts  FamilyThe 12 projects are divided into four categories (Use of Line; Colour; Motif; and Text), which are then further divided into three projects each. Each project is inspired by a different art style, like Bauhaus, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Punk and Pop Art, and combined with a method of quilt creating. With each project, Kathreen explains the thought process behind her design and then give a few ideas and encouragements to the reader to do their own thing, and experiment.

Brave New Quilts ToolsThe book is concluded by a few chapters dealing with tools, assembling and finishing methods, and tips for storing, washing and above all, using your quilts. Right on character, Kathreen adds a long list of links to websites, blogs, tutorials and other online recourses to supplement the mountain of advice, inspiration and information already included in this book.

Brave New Quilts Assembly


As far as quilt books go, this one belongs right up there in the top spot. The book is written for people who have a basic knowledge of sewing and who might have some experience with quilting. It is not a beginners book and if you are someone who needs step-by-step instructions, this will probably not satisfy you. But if you are ready to take a leap into the unknown, to experiment and try your own thing, but lack the confidence or design knowledge, this is for you.

If you have been a follower of Kathreen’s blog, magazine or other books, and want something to celebrate her life and work, this is a fitting tribute. Not only to her amazing talent as a designer and writer but also as a person, mother and wife.

You can follow Stash Books’ Legacy Tour for Brave New Quilts here