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Part 31. Travels


Today, three books around the travel theme.  Firstly, Indigo, In search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley is a journey through nine West African countries to search for indigo and her own legacy.  So: a somewhat egocentric account, with no real substance; the maps are useless, the fourteen pages of photographs uninspiring, and there are no real details of modern indigo production.  However, it is a reasonable evening's read covering “powerful lessons of heritage and history”.  Don't expect too much from the two hundred odd pages, one to buy very cheaply or borrow from the library.

Victoria Finlay's Colour, Travels Through the Paintbox is a much more structured, worldwide survey.  Though her book concentrates on pigments, there is enough about dyes to make it interesting for us textile enthusiasts.  She starts with Acknowledgements, Lists of illustrations, Maps (good and helpful) and Photographs, a Preface: The Beginning of the Rainbow and an Introduction: The Paintbox.  Then follow ten chapters: Ochre, Black and Brown, White, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.  The first chapter, Ochre is the longest - most of the others are roughly forty pages, and, I think, the weakest, - so plod on.  The book ends with an Epilogue, The End of the Rainbow, an eleven-page Bibliography, Notes (to the chapters) and a fourteen-page Index.  Despite its scholarship, the chapters are nicely broken down under subheadings which makes for a good flow and an easy read.  This book is one to keep for reference, full of annotated detail as well as entertaining prose: scholarship with a light hand.

Finally, Jaipur Quilts by Krystyna Hellsröm combines travel and quilts.  Jaipur is famous for its wide range of arts and crafts; two hundred and fifty years ago the ruler brought quilt makers from the neighbouring hamlets into this Pink City and started atradition for razai, these velvet or cotton quilts.  The quilts today are made from very fine cotton, mulmul, and filled with fluffed up cotton wool; the fabric has block printed designs and is usually stitched by hand.  This book very readable in an upmarket design magazine style but it is not what BQSG would call scholarly.  Even the four “historical” chapters: Of Quilts and Quilting, The origins and the making, the Old quilt makers and Antique textile revivals are short on facts.  And the few photographs of beautiful old quilting only go to show how debased today’s designs are. The remaining six chapters of the 203 pages are biographies of – to Krystyna - the most interesting/influential current producers, albeit with attractive illustrations.  The book does have a three-page Index, a three-page Glossary, a brief Bibliography and two pages of Addresses for the designers, producers and museums.  As Krystyna herself says there is “an absence of documented material on the history of Jaipur quilts”.  So, interesting, attractive but not deep.


Some odd prices so do have a good browse before buying.

Indigo by Catherine McKinley was published in 2011 by Bloomsbury, (London) at £16.99, ISBN 978 4088 1220 4. and there is a paperback version, 2012 ISBN 140 88 223 6 9

Amazon have the new hardback at £10.87 new paperback at £6.74 and Kindle at £7.07 through their website you can get the hardback, new, for £1.39 plus p&p, used for the same, and a new paperback for £0.49 plus p&p, used: £2.49 inclusive. have the used paperback from 66p plus p&p, used hardback from £1.50 plus p&p. A new hardback is £1.50 plus p&p, the new paperback, £5.10 plus p&p.

Colour by Victoria Finlay was published in 2002 by Sceptre (Hodder and Stoughton, London), ISBN 0 340 73328 4, paperback 0 340 826 320.  There was a new edition in 2003, ISBN 0 34 73329 2 and a hardback edition from the Folio Society 2009.

Amazon have the new paperback at £7.98, the hardback is currently unavailable.  Through them you can buy a used paperback for £13.98 plus p&p or used hardback for £15.00 plus p&p.  A new hardback via their website is £39.99 plus p&p. 

If you go to  there are used paperbacks from 66p plus postage, used hardbacks for £13.95 plus postage or new paperbacks at £5.98 plus p&p.

Jaipur Quilts by Krystyna Hellström is published by Niyogi books (New Dehli) 2012, ISBN 978 81 920912 5 9 at £25.00.

Amazon have it for £21.25, via their website it is £13.67 plus postage, new, or £13.99 plus postage, used.  Via ABE, it costs £14.04 plus postage for a new copy.

As I said, please shop around as some of these prices are extraordinary.

© Brigid J.Ockelton. 2013

PLEASE NOTE - An indication is given of the availability and market price of the book at the time of writing and may not reflect today's availability and price.