Tuesday, 5 January 2010

alert, not alarmed

Google offer various entertaining gadgets and amusements to those who want to romp joyfully through the ether hand in hand with the interpixies
one of these things is the 'google alert'
which can be set to any subject that interests you
and will cast up all sorts of useful stuff

i have google alerts for dyes, and paper folding and sustainable textiles
i blush slightly to admit it
india flint

yup, the latter subject DOES interest me
and i'm curious as to where my name pops up

at very least it tells me where i've been
handy in the event of memory failure

earlier today, sitting happily in the Qantas lounge on my way to Denmark
i had to take an extra sip of bubble when i discovered what my alert had gathered up

a person i have never met [but on whose blog i once left what i thought was a helpful comment about eucalypts] has apparently taken me in severe dislike and published a less than friendly review of my book Eco Colour

however much i am pricked by what she's written and mystified as to why she hates me so much
i do support freedom of speech
and so have pasted her words below
so you can share the love too, dear readers

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
2.0 out of 5 stars heavy coffee table book, 31 Oct 2009
I was very disappointed in this book. I felt it was strongly self-promotional (her family history is not of interest to me) and it is the type of book you'd expect to find accompanying an exhibition of the artist's work.

I had thought it was going to be was a book of dyeing technique and instruction - it isn't.

She does include some information about techniques, but it is not set out for you to follow through a set of instruction. If you are an experienced dyer that may not be a problem. It is though she is selling a book on the basis that she will reveal her techniques, but has then backed off and tells you as little as possible and tucks it in the middle where it is hard to find.

I also found that the the dyeing is for garments, not yarns, and the garments all look very much the same, which is fine if it is a style that appeals to you. To me, her style would make 70s hippy clothes look smart by comparison. I find the prints unappealingly confused and untidy.

It is a big, heavy book, full of photographs, and with a strange paper dust cover that is purely for decoration and does not protect the book - the beige piece with picture of a garment is a band that wraps around the cloth hardback cover, leaving 1/3rd of the cover exposed (the green bit) and the book's corners unprotected. I found all this - weight, excessive photos, lack of useful instruction, much waffle and puff in the writing - at odds with the author's environmental concerns because it is wasteful of paper and large and heavy for transport (this book has travelled half way around the world from Australia).

This is a book which will appeal to the collector of coffee table picture books (of which I am not one) and to the fans of India Flint who want to own a piece of her work. It may be relevant to anyone interested in textile design. For dyers concerned about the environment I recommend authors Jenny Dean and Gill Dalby, who have written modest, small and information packed books.
and be warned my friends, the next book [called 'second skin'] has family stories in it as well, so if you don't want to read any more about my grandmother, avoid it
on the other hand, if you're interested in techniques that can take you back to Haight Ashbury and into the Wild Wood
stay tuned


  1. After reading this post I had to get your book out again to see if she had a different one to mine. The photos alone are worth buying the book for, all of the dyeing information is an added bonus. I love the layout and formatting, definitely five stars. Maybe most of her pages are missing.

  2. There are lots of 'how to' books out there, it seems that's what she's after and there are plenty of those. I find those kinds of books limiting and restrictive myself. No matter, there's something for everyone, that is the joy of literature. I always enjoy meeting the artist in person and find a new way of looking at my planet and the things around me. I love your whakapapa (history) and stories India. It gives a context to what you do, something that we especially value in my Maori culture. I met the odd person like this reviewer in India's workshops. Its always easier for some to find fault. Some people aren't used to looking for treasure. The best stuff isn't always initially obvious. One has to sit and wait and be patient. Your work and life resonates on so many levels India, and if its not to others liking, I'm thinking its their loss. Go buy your five step process book. It will soon be collecting dust. Some people greedily are takers. As if by paying money they now have certain 'rights'. I for one am hungrily awaiting 'second skin' and would like one of the first copies. Nana stories rock India, fill your pages with them. I love your first book and still feel joy turning the pages after these past few years. Rachelle

  3. it is quite different from my review....eh?

    she is quite confused.

  4. yikes - what a nasty "review" or should that be diatribe? i love your book just as much as the day i first eagerly bought it and read it with increasing delight and wonder. you're one of the people who taught me to play and to see what happened if... i don't want recipes i want ideas and experiences and wisdom

    go well and don't let this get under your skin. looking forward to the next adventure :)

  5. and here's a hug to try and help take the nasty taste away

  6. how to give recipes, if natural dyeing is always different? Your book is all about challange and experiment with eco-colouring; sharing this brings it on higher level. And I was just calling out 2010 as 'euca-united'! Looking very much forward to your second skin...

  7. How many Eco Colours did you write India?
    I ask because my copy is beautiful, interesting, helpful and so much more.
    I hope you get on with Second Skin because I want it.

  8. Just so you know, your book is still at the top of my "to get" list...

  9. I am dumbstruck. Her words reveal much more about her than your book. I cannot wait for the release of your book in the U.S.A. this year.
    Enjoy your time in Denmark. Go forth with joy knowing that you are much loved and admired.

  10. Gee, now that I know you also give a bonus of lovely photos, and family history I want to buy your book, even though I don't work in dyed cloth!
    me thinks her review might be more about her and her anger than it is about you and your book....

  11. It isn't what one says, but how it's said...I think she could have created a more thoughtful review that included her criticisms without the air of personal attack.

    I've occasionally been disappointed with books I've gotten online and haven't had a chance to browse first. But it never occurred to me to criticize the author for not writing the book as I wanted it to be!

    That said, when we put ourselves and our work out in the public eye, it's helpful to remember we can't please everyone and try not to give the negative response too much space.

    I was pleased to read the above comment that says your book will have a USA printing soon.

  12. so. you know that old saw, right? about 'pleasing people'. i say, put this review down to minority opinion. just leave it there .... in the minority. and love the kudos all the more.

  13. This indeed is a most interesting post.
    The Internet comes with pitfalls as well as rewards and we have to take the good with the bad. One can just hope that in the end the good outweighs the bad.

    Enjoy your trip to Denemark.

  14. OMG-- she really went after every aspect of your book-- I don't have your book -yet--but am now adding it to my wish list- what she listed as negatives I saw as all positives :-)

  15. I guess you know you care about people
    when somebody says horrible things about them
    Pure Jealousy - that's all
    You are highly respected in the UK
    this was only ONE opinion
    Hugs xx

  16. alert not alarmed ...love that

  17. I love your book, it's bloody beautiful.

    And in the wise words of Nick Cave, "people are awful" but we also know people are wonderful too. Looking forward to the second book!

  18. someone with a different agenda, indeed. this critique, which is full of odd criticisms, is offset by many, many happy and inspired readers. eco color is different, and wonderful, beautifully designed and executed. and the writing is top notch. as a book maker as well as textile practitioner, i am very happy with it. i love the haptics of this commercially bound book. i anticipate your next book with huge enthusiasm.

  19. yes - there are people who want very specific instructions for things and no personal stuff I guess.

    I love that your book is a work of art in itself and find it a very useful reference, if it had specific sets of rules and instructions to follow, my personality being what it is would probably ignore it - I like the treasure hunt of using an index and discovering things for myself, the lists of plants, your photos, stories and I always want to know more about the artists I admire :)

  20. it was your nanna stories that took you out of the realm of 'just' the 'artist' and into a person and encouraged me to do your course. Go nanna.

  21. I am anxiously awaiting....the next book and your visit to the US. **LOVED** the book and have been playing with natural dyes since. It has been an inspiration and a treasure.

  22. Hi India, Your book is a prized possession of mine - I love every aspect of it.

  23. good god! someone needs to chill out! your book is beautiful :)

  24. Strange, that is what I liked in your book, the family stories and the "recipes" because not everyone has access to the same plants, so it is a chance to experiment.

  25. evidently green is her favorite color
    i lived through the 70s and saw your beautiful clothes last summer at QSDS trust me we never had such beautiful fabrics in the seventies and your dust cover sounds like a very intriguing design

  26. wow! what a ridiculous review. how about... this book was not at all what i expected, it was more like a piece of art. that is essentially what she is saying, and that she doesnt like this piece of art. we love it! cant wait for your next book.

  27. sounds like someone has your lovely interesting book and no imagination. I have Eco colour and Felt and love them both.

  28. Sounds like she hasn't properly read the book, and wants someone to tell her exactly what to do-no imagination,no brains either.I love it and would have taken it to bed with me if I could

  29. She must have a special edition- the one I've read is an amazing journey- I've not had a single moment's experience with natural dyes (I barely know a thing about plants!) but your book made me feel I could step right out in the backyard and start.Some people just want books that will give them exact andmeasured steps on how to make something- clearly she's that sort. Me, I prefer the unfolding lotus. :)

  30. at first I was dumbfounded by Dot's unbalanced tirade, then I checked her blog site and found she is a very precise weaver and spinner and a lawyer to boot....(none of which excuses bad cyber manners) but it occured to me she is newly into textiles and has chosen areas with strong "borders" and "calculations". Maybe one cold rainy day when she has the flu and feels like death, she lug your weighty wonder off to bed with a mug of herbal tea and a hottie and re read it from cover to cover. Then she'll weep for joy at all she can learn from your gentle, wellresearched and beautiful book. After using Eco Colour most days for the last 9 months and ecodyeing almost every day, I am just beginning to understand what treasures are embedded in it. Enjoy your time in DK - you will be deeply respected and loved there - as you should be...

  31. thank you friends for all your heartening words...
    wasn't disturbed by the reader not liking the book, more slightly stunned that she disliked me so personally
    and we hadn't even met.
    can't please all of the people all of the time
    am not going to try
    in a quiet moment [not now at Heathrow] i shall return your kind visits...

  32. I love your book! I'm so glad I purchased it!

  33. Each to their own, India. Your book is a piece of art that encourages each reader to step into the wild and make some more art. It always has helped me get unstuck while respecting my personal journey of discovery. Look forward to your new book.

    Lots of love

  34. Oh, my! Will your next book also be "big" and "full of photographs," and will it have a wonderful, "strange paper dust cover that is purely for decoration"? Will it be "relevant to anyone interested in textile design"? I hope so!

    What an odd review.

  35. Maybe if Dot doesn't want her copy she could send it to me? I'd gladly pay postage! So glad to hear your book will get a North American release, India. There are lots of folks here who really love your work and are waiting on it!

  36. I forgot to add that perhaps she doesn't realise that any comments you post on the interwebs (good, bad or indifferent) can be seen by ANYONE. Including, of course, the subject of your comments. (And their friends and relatives.) Will try to remember that important point myself!

  37. I love your book! And hope your next one will be as heavy, with as many pictures as the first one. The layout, the paper, the cover - it all creates a special mood which inspires soo much!