We hope the AAS Library for AAS members only, both Associate and Professional, will inspire as well as technically assist a whole range of creative themes.
The library is built by AAS Members sharing books – whether coffee table / design focussed, material based / technical / academic – they believe will be of interest to their fellow Members’ creative minds. AAS will also invite guests working in craft and design for their offerings.
A book will be added to the virtual shelves every month, and shared on social media.
To submit a book please email firstname.lastname@example.org at anytime with:
- Book Title and Author (ISBN Number if you have / know it)
- approx. 200 words informing Members why you are attracted to the book and what it offers
‘Jewellery Design and Development: From Concept to Object‘, Norman Cherry
Suggested by Jeweller Dr Allison Macleod
This was the first art / jewellery / design book I was recommended just before I started my degree course in metal and jewellery design. I loved it then and still do now.
It takes a unique approach to understanding the processes of design and development by exploring the works of seventeen innovative contemporary jewellers from around the world.
Each artisan describes their own method allowing a glimpse into how some of their different ideas are generated and developed, tracking all the stages from initial concept to final design. It offers a fascinating study of the design process and of individual designers.
Not just for jewellers, for anyone interested in materials, design and that elusive creative process.
‘The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain‘, Annie Murphy Paul
Suggested by Weaver Cally Booker
This book is about the fact that our cognition is not just confined to the organs in our heads, as if we were ‘brains in jars’, but is fully embodied, in spite of what our culture tells us through what it values and promotes. The author is a science journalist, and she’s brought together research from a host of different areas in the cognitive sciences, which sounds a bit intimidating but it is very readable and enjoyable. One of the main themes of the book is something that craft makers already know through practice – that we think with our hands – but it ranges much more broadly across thinking as a learning process, as a collaborative process, and as something that is grounded in our environment as well as our own bodies. It is full of recognisable moments, and I think will resonate with many makers’ experiences.
‘Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts‘, Alexander Langlands
Submitted by Mary Lewis, Endangered Crafts Manager at Heritage Crafts
Craeft is an accessible and engaging read that looks to the original definition of ‘craft’ as being about more than simply making.
“When it first appeared in Old English, the word craeft signified an indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom and resourcefulness. Rediscovering craeft will connect us with our human past, our sense of place and our remarkable capacity to survive in the harshest of landscapes. Craeft helps us to more fully appreciate human ingenuity and the passing on of skills from generation to generation.”
Alexander, a Heritage Crafts Ambassador, makes the argument that, with a little more craeft in our lives we can improve our wellbeing, our sense of being in the world and our connection to our surroundings.
‘Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones‘, James Clear
Submitted by Jeweller Jen Cunningham and Craft Festival Director Sarah James
Jen Cunningham: This book is a dip into the world of neuroscience and psychology and provides you with actual step by step ways that you can build better habits into your day. Though it’s not craft focused, there’s a lot that can be applied to day-to-day life and art practices. I was initially drawn to it as I wanted to know how I could make better use of my time. As well as how I could make plans and stick to them; I wanted to be more consistent with my yoga routine as well as my social media posting. Building better habits is one way of doing that and this book explains how making a tiny change will, day-by-day, compound over time.
As a maker, a huge part of my practice is the presentation of my work. There are so many elements to consider depending on the type of setting. It can be an exhausting and a hugely daunting task considering how we present our work and communicate to audiences what we are trying to say whilst making the work look the best it can and and be engaging all at the same time.
I came across this book a few years ago when I began doing more informal POP UP style events. Sarah’s approach really encouraged me to think creatively about display and that it can be equally as important as the work being presented. She uses the name Supermarket Sarah which is rather tongue in cheek, and I love that!
Sarah began this project by using her own living room wall as her first ‘Wonder Wall’ space to curate designs and sell them online. I admire this ‘can do’ approach of using what is available to you to get work seen. In this book she curates walls and collaborates with other artists and designers to create the series of Wonder Walls that feature in the book. Every wall is a wonderful visual composition of designs, art works and objects, each a worthy art piece in itself.
‘Craft is Political’, D Wood (ed)
Submitted by Juliette MacDonald, Personal Chair of Craft History and Theory at Edinburgh College of Art
This book is comprised of 16 essays created by authors from across craft disciplines and provides a global context. All the essays fall into one of three sections: legacy, practice, world view. Each essay can be read as a standalone text, so the book is good to dip into, in the same way that you might just choose one object or art work to look at and savour in a gallery. Another reason to dip rather than plunge is that the book has a big punch and there is a lot to take on board. As the Editor D Wood points out “Each essay is a provocation to embrace craft as an agent of change.” If you are particularly taken with the content of one of the chapters and its theme then you will find the bibliography is a great resource too as you can follow up and read further on the subject.
‘Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times‘, Elizabeth Wayland Barber
W. W. Norton & Company (1996)
Submitted by Fife Contemporary Director Kate Grenyer
This book is one I keep coming back to, not because it is perfect, but because it raises questions that continue to be relevant to anyone making, thinking or writing about textiles and their contexts. The author was not originally a maker but an academic and archaeologist who specialises in the study of surviving cloth fragments from antiquity. I love her approach and discussion that alongside the idea of the Stone, Iron and Bronze Ages that we should be thinking equally of the ‘String Age’ in terms of human development and how important a shift it was when we developed the ability to spin and twist yarn. Wayland Barber specifically specialises in weaving when discussing the history of cloth, but most importantly insists on the importance of learning by doing for anyone writing about textile, or any other applied art form, whether an archaeologist studying early developments in textiles or a writer and curator of contemporary craft like myself. Wayland Barber complains bitterly of the approach of fellow archaeologists who study fragments of pottery and arrow heads in great detail but who have never once turned a pot or knapped a flint – and I couldn’t agree more. It serves as a timely reminder to me, as I move from a textile specialist organisation to working across art and craft again, to get my head and hands back into making and experiencing craft by doing as much as by looking.
This book captures what I believe and strive for being a maker. Kitaōji Fusajirō, or Rosanjin as he is known, was a contemporary of other more celebrated Japanese and Korean potters, but not taken as seriously as Hamada or Yanagi. The two later were instrumental in what would become the British Studio Pottery movement with the likes of Bernard Leach. As the reader gets through the antidotes about this time, there isn’t really any resentment or animosity for not being accepted into the club, Rosanjin was on his own path. His focus for was the food to be served on his work. He was a cook, and a pretty good one from a lot of accounts. The second part of the book is a collection of musings from his diaries and memoirs. It is really funny in places, all under a time frame that everyone living should understand as volatile, in flux, and what would set precedents in making into the contemporary. Strange highlights of the plates include photos of him hanging as equals with Picasso and Chagall.
‘The Hidden Wisdom Of Objects – Fewer, Better Things’, Glenn Adamson
Submitted by Maija Nygren, Almaborealis
This book explores human relationships with the material environment that surrounds us, and how being aware of what stuff is made of can help us make sense of the world. Knowing how things are made and with what materials used to be part of a common knowledge base that helped in everyday survival, but today, our survival does not depend on this, but rather on our ability to log on to emails or generate the best hashtags. We get a glimpse on the motivations of making things through craft history, and compare this to motivations of today. This is beautifully written, easy to read and whether you’re a maker or an admirer of things, anyone can relate to these stories. As a maker of things, I find this book a highly enriching source for inspiration to keep making, but fewer and better things!
I am not a weaver but this book would appeal to any artist in any discipline. It is not in any way a ‘how to’ book, more a dipping into and marvelling at the minds behind the constructs and inherent skills of the people. Fractal geometry in structures – and I quote – in clouds, coastlines, branching trees, blood vessels etc. Myriad forms of human expression. Plenty to read if you are so inclined and plenty to look at.
‘Why Materials Matter: Responsible Design for a Better World’, Seetal Solanki
Prestel Publishing (2018), ISBN 978-3-7913-8471-9
Submitted by Clare Waddle of Yellow Broom
As a designer/maker with a keen interest in material application and an environmentally responsible approach to design this book fascinates me. I wanted to share my appreciation of Why Materials Matter in the belief it will appeal to many folks working within the different areas within the creative industries, it certainly ticks many a box of anyone with an interest in the crossing of disciplines associated with applied art, design and product production. A visual and academic treat in one exploring where the materials in focus come from, who the people are who are applying them and how. The book is split into three sections. The first considers the EVERYDAY and explores mundane / often overlooked materials such as mussel shells being transformed into plaster and corn husks as a surface veneer. The second section looks at SCIENCE and materials created through biological processes such as a leather like fabric created from the cellulose made from coconut water to spider silk and microalgae to create an amazing structural dome. The final section, EXPANSIVE looks at projects applying the likes of electronic waste to furniture production and Basalt rock powder to cast a striking collection of tableware. ENJOY!
You are probably familiar with these books but they are wonderful to refresh the mind and soul by just turning the pages. In these days of re-use, make do and mend, this is a great lesson on just that. Also, I personally think that because many of the women who made these quilts were getting on in years, there was an inherent absorption of shape, form and colour which life had embedded in the hands and minds of the makers of the quilts. Many contemporary artists such as Sean Scully, have learnt from the women of Gee’s Bend.
As a lapsed design-historian working in contemporary and traditional craft, I return to this book regularly for reference, as each chapter on a craft practise in Scotland compiles images, text, technical information, memories and stories that positions craft at the heart of communities routed in place. Rosemary Wilkes sums it up in the Foreword ‘This is not a nostalgic review, nor does it put forward a Utopian view of the traditional crafts. It looks at what kind of role these crafts play now and how they might survive into the future.’