On Concertina Books

This year I have been to two classes (one real, one virtual) where I learnt to make a concertina book and next week I will be making yet another one under the guidance of Anne Kelly at a Stitch Club workshop. They say things come in threes and I am happy to have discovered this simple but effective way of making a book and to have three opportunities to learn from skilled artists who are also good teachers.

Concertina book made from card and embellished with fabric, paint and stitch

This paper concertina book was started at an art journaling class with Sally Scott at the beginning of the year, when the Corono virus was but a vague threat on a distant horizon. (One of the things I really miss in our new reality are the monthly Saturday morning classes with Sally. There’s a previous post about this.) Even though I had taken a big bag of art supplies to that art journaling class, I found I wanted to work with fabric (ha!). A kind classmate gave me free reign to rummage through the pile of scraps and yarns that she had brought along. I used one of her textile scraps to hinge the short strips of paper and to decorate the front cover (15 x 15 cm) of the concertina book.

Sally’s classes are always liberating and I filled the first first page with some notes and a bit of stitching of wool onto card. When I got home I filled the blank pages with fabrics and materials given to me by friends. (Laura take note.) It has thus become a memento amici.

Last month Mandy Pattullo, one of the tutors for the TextileArtist.org Stitch Club, showed us how to make a fabric concertina book using textile scraps with collage and stitch. The book was made from a 96 x 12 cm strip of fabric, which was then folded to make eight square pages. The designs were stitched across a double page spread.

She encouraged us to use cloth from worn-out favourite garments and it was just what I needed to hear because it meant I could do something with a much loved scarf that had fallen into holes. I also used bits from an old silk shirt that had become threadbare around the cuffs.

A peak into the folded pages of the fabric concertina book made in response to Mandy Pattullo’s workshop.

I enjoyed the gentle stitching through the layers of worn cloth and embellished the pages with some kantha style stitching in variegated silk thread. It is difficult to photograph the book and the above is to simply give an idea of the fun I had in the making of the piece.

At least three of the artists that have given Stitch Club workshops use vintage materials in their textile art and have encouraged us to do the same. Here follows Mandy Pattullo’s statement on why she favours this way of working:

I treasure the old and worn, refashioning vintage textiles into new collages
which are then embellished with stitch and appliqué. I am a great believer
in using what you already have or can source second-hand. I recycle and
reuse very old and often disintegrating materials into new patchworks. I
cut up old quilts, unpick them, darn, appliqué and construct new textile
collages, usually embellishing with simple embroidery and traditional
appliqué techniques.

My work relates to the thrift and ‘make-do and mend’ culture of past times,
in particular utility patchworks and quilts made by women in domestic
settings. My collages, fabric books, large wall quilts and garments bring
together precious fragments to form evocative compositions. The viewer
is forced to re-examine fabrics that have become flawed through wear and
tear, to find in them a new beauty

Mandy Pattullo

11 thoughts on “On Concertina Books

  1. You come up with such fun, interesting projects to try. I’d love to drop everything and give this a try. Today, however, I must stay on task and finish the deadlines in front of me! Thanks for sharing this!


    1. It does sometimes worry me when there is no use for the thing made, except as a keeper of memories. But on the other hand it is good to have a bit of fun too and I did enjoy the process when making these books. Strength with your deadlines

      Liked by 1 person

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