For Christmas, I recieved a hefty gift certificate from David Mirvish Books in Toronto, with which I purchased By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art. It was a great find, and I would recommend it to anyone who works with or is interested in the use of craft-type techniques (knitting, sewing, bookbinding, hand-printing) within a fine art context. The book is beautifully designed, and features profiles and images of the work of international artists, both established (most notably Kiki Smith) and emerging. The books format- alloting 2-3 pages per artist- makes for a light yet addicting read...I read the entire book in one lazy afternoon.
In a response to the sleek forms and perfect angles of most late twentieth century design objects, many of today's artists and designers are returning to handmade work such as hand lettering, hand drawing, and hand sewing. By Hand features an international collection of the most noteworthy artists and shows their work in detailed photography and insightful texts. From books to pillows to T-shirts to toys, the pieces in this volume define an alternative view of contemporary design. Personal craft is emphasized over perfection and the personality of the artist is put forth as a key element of the finished product. From Kiki Smith's lovingly etched birds to Barb Hunt's knitted land mines to dynamo-ville's one-of-a-kind puppets to Evil Twin's hand-stitched publications, today's art revels in the care and consideration of craft.
Check out http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/byhand.html for a peek at some of By Hand's images.