Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Two for One: Book Review

Stitch like and Egyptian054Show Catalog published by the American Quilter’s Society                                ISBN 978.1.60460.046.9

About three years ago several friends had attended the Houston International Quilt Festival. A special exhibition with work by the Tentmakers of Cairo had caught everyone’s attention, and the buzz was on. Several YouTube videos showcased individual artists, and I had been anxiously waiting to find a reference book about more information.

I was teaching in Yellowknife last November when I visited the Quilted Raven and spotted a stunning applique piece in their display window. It reminded me of what I had seen online in association with the Tentmakers of Cairo and when I asked about it, it was confirmed that the piece was one created by a Tentmaker. I inquired about a book and was given the information about the show catalog I am featuring today.

This catalog was worth ordering – it had to come from England and is worth every penny. It is rich in color and features a wide array of applique master pieces. Tentmaker applique work is brilliant in color and is primarily executed by men. Jenny Bowker, the curator shares in her essay: ” The name comes from the fact that the work used to line tents or screens covered in applique to line entire streets, or define an area for the Ramadan dinner table, a wedding, a henna party, or a funeral.”

The work is considered utilitarian in Egypt. The work is created by laborers and is sometimes considered unlucky and undesirable due to its association with funeral practices. (I don’t think that will deter its popularity in the Western world – in the 1920s the highlight of a British high society party was the unwrapping of a mummy…)

When I placed my order online the suggestion came up for the next book:

Ancient Art of Applique055 Published by the American Quilter’s Society in 2013.                                                  ISBN 978.1.60460.104.6

This book a must if you are looking to explore the Tentmakers of Cairo work by creating your own stunning applique hanging based on the ancient Egyptian symbols and motifs.

An introductory chapter about the Tentmakers is supported by great images and informative text. It will immerse the reader into the original environment and provides historical background information. The books’ content is rounded out by providing 18 original designs from 17 tentmakers. Each design is simple to follow with large, full color designs that beckon to be reproduced.

Together this set of books has everything one needs to know about Tentmaker designs. The images are large and clear, some even provide enough information to show the stitching… If you are only interested in the exhibit, make sure to invest in the show catalog. You won’t regret it!

This entry was published on February 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm. It’s filed under Art, Book Review, Creativity Update, Quilt Show, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Two for One: Book Review

  1. Anna, the books are wonderful. Good on Jenny Bowker to persevere in her efforts on behalf of these tentmaker appliqué artists. When I first began appliquéing I was told that these tentmakers actually originated appliqué many millennia ago. It is delightful to see this diminishing group of artists receive some recognition. I hope that it will improve their lot and that the ancient art as they practice it will continue.


  2. Sandra hamilton on said:

    I first “met” Jenny Bowker on line through Southern Cross Quilters Guild, an on line guild for Australians and New Zealanders. She lived in Egypt and has extensive knowledge of the tentmakers. I meet her in real life in Houston in 2010 and attended her talk on the tentmakers. She now lives in Canberra.
    Jenny is a wonderful quiltmaker in her own right. She has a web site and blog and they are worth looking at. She is also a member of SAQA Ocenia and had a wonderful piece in their last show. I havent looked at the new one Have a look at her work when you have time. It is worth it. A


  3. I was lucky enough to see the Tentmakers exhibit at the AQS show in Des Moines and meet two of the artists. I also bought one of the pieces that has a prominent place in our home. You can see it on my bog here:


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