QUILT STUDIO: Innovative Techniques for Confident and Creative Quiltmaking and Design
By Pauline Burbidge
The Quilt Digest Press, 2000
160 pages, $29.95

Reviewed by Celia Eddy

Pauline Burbidge's long-awaited book handsomely reflects and exemplifies the multi-faceted character both of the artist and of her work. The high level of sheer technical skill, married to a uniquely imaginitive and perceptive aesthetic awareness, have long been the hallmarks of Burbidge's work and in her book she shares with us her ideas and inspirations and the practical processes by which they are realised as finished textile art.

Here's a book which will become as much a 'must-have' for the keen City and Guilds student as for the enthusiastic beginner who hopes for something more than is offered by the run off the mill patchwork and quilting book, with which the market is positively flooded these days. Fortunate indeed the beginner who happens on this book as their first 'primer'! They will receive not only sensible and easily followed instruction in the basics, but will at the same time be inspired with the exciting possibilities which lie before them as they are drawn further into the crafts of patchwork and quilting. The more experienced and knowledgeable will find here a wealth of ideas and practical methods as spurs to their own creativity.

In her Preface, Burbidge emphasises that, despite initial impressions, her work is inspired by patchwork traditions and this becomes apparent as one reads Michele Walker's Introduction and follows Burbidge's development through studying the illustrations of her early quilts.

The main body of the book is presented as a series of Workshops. Part One, headed Techniques, has four Workshops, beginning with Pieced Patchwork which gives clear instruction in essential techniques. This is followed by Workshops on Applique, Quilting and, finally, Fabric Dyeing and Painting. All the Workshops are presented in a way which makes them approachable and instructive for both beginners and 'improvers' alike. The style and presentation reflect Burbidge's well-deserved reputation as an outstandingly gifted teacher.

Part Two, headed Design, has five Workshops: Strip-Piecing, Colour and Image-Collecting, Geometric 3-D Design, Patterns and Repeated Block, Paper Collage and Fabric Collage. Burbidge's personal approach to design is set out in clear detail and readers are guided through a variety of processes which they can apply to their own work. Each Workshop is accompanied both by extremely clear line drawings and by colour reproductions of relevant examples of Burbidge's own work. Indeed, the high quality of the generous number of colour illustrations is a feature of the whole book.

The Workshops section is followed by Penny McMorris's in-depth interview with Pauline Burbidge, in which the artist's background, ideas and practical working methods are explored and she talks about her life and work in the magnificent scenery of the Scottish Borders where she now lives with her husband, the sculptor Charles Poulsen. Photographs are included of the converted farm-buildings where they live and of Burbidge at work in her studio.

This is indeed a rare publication: a patchwork and quilting book giving equal doses of instruction and inspiration, delivered in a style which is objectively professional yet conveying a real flavour of the author's unique personal style and personality. Without doubt, a book which will become a classic almost as soon as it appears!

(c) Celia Eddy 2000

Celia Eddy is webmistress of Quilt Story at . She lives in northern England and is a frequent contributor to TVQ.