Carol Cooke – Improv Embroidery / Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration

Independently published, Australia, 2022
Designed by Praxis Creative Art, Canberra
Photographs by the author

This book is subtitled Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration and is at once an instruction manual, an invitation to make time for play and a marketing tool for its author.

With clear and concise chapters, the book takes the novice or would be embroiderer through all the basics from overcoming insecurity to using embroidery in marketing materials like business cards.

Barbie talks to Carol Cooke about Improv Embroidery / Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration

The author is generous in sharing her knowledge and practical skills but also in geeing up the reader who may have doubts about his or her capacity to draw, paint, sew or even come up with embroiderable ideas.

This is a work which springs from an artistic passion but also a determination to communicate the benefits of indulging in a quiet pastime which allows the expression of thoughts and feelings at very little expense and in almost any place, even when travelling. This is an art and craft medium which does not demand to be useful for anyone except the maker. Functionalism is not required.

As a practical guide for the novice, this is an inspiring and encouraging work. It is full of beautiful photographs of beautiful and often quirky pieces of embroidery. It blows traditional notions of what embroidery is out of the water.

It’s an invitation to make something entirely your own using fabric and thread and whatever else takes your fancy – forget stencilled patterns and draw what’s on your mind.

Carol’s practice makes use of recycled and discarded fabrics, of decorative bits and bobs, of reclaimed old sheets or jeans, op. shop finds and painting rags. The book is a joyous embracing of pottering, of spending time just for oneself, of making things just for the sake of it or rather just for the sake of having ‘me time’. It’s an unashamed entreaty to make this time for both one’s peace of mind and one’s liveliness of mind.

Poetry by Carol’s twin brother Phillip Snellen is scattered throughout the book, another source of delight for this reader.

You could take this book and work your way through Carol’s suggested projects and methods, and you’d be well served. However, she is also a teacher and her positivity and zeal must surely be infectious in a classroom of tentative sewers. She can be found on Instagram #cookeart or via her website  from which the book is directly available.

Improv Embroidery is also available from Amazon.

Thank you to Carol for my review copy and a conversation about embroidery, cutting loose and this book.