A slight departure for the norm on this site. I have decided to include one or two book reviews. These will be books that I personally own, rather than ones I know of. Therefore, they will be book titles that I can recommend from personal experience.
The first up is the newly published book by Susan Kay-Williams, called 'The Story of Colour in Textiles'. It is actually newly published this year and is therefore brand new. It was written and researched by the Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, which some of you may be aware, is a prestigious organization based at Hampton Court Palace in London.
As its title suggests, it concerns the role of colour within the textile industry across its long history. It would be fair to say that the book covers most of the key textile cultures of European history, from the influence of Ancient Egypt, through to the Greeks and Romans, Byzantium, medieval and renaissance Europe, onto the eighteenth century, and then through to the nineteenth and the discovery and experimentation with artificial dyes, whilst at the same time giving space to William Morris and his reintroduction of natural dyes, alongside the industrial ones.
This is definitely a book about the development of dyeing technology and not a book about textile development as such. Anyone who wants to know more about the history of the use of natural and then artificial dyes, where they came from and what influence they had on the European textile industry in all its formats, from hand production through to mass industrial production, would be wise to get hold of this book. It has a staggering amount of detailed knowledge from the root origin of the word 'madder' to the development of indigo-dyed denim in the nineteenth century.
Although rich in text, it is not miserly on illustrations, practically every page has at least one colour photo. Like most reference books, it is ideal to be read through as well as used for dipping in. At 176 pages for 29.95 USD or 19.99 GBP, I would say, at least by today's standards, it's reasonably priced. If you cannot afford it then at least put it on your Amazon wish list. One thing it does have going for it, it seems unlikely that it will be a book that ages badly. I expect this to be in my reference library for some years to come.
The book can be bought through the various incarnations of Amazon, although please be aware that those in the US can only pre-order as Bloomsbury will not be launching the book until 14 March 2013. Still, not too long to wait. I will leave an Amazon.com link at the bottom of this article.