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Great Book of Celtic Patterns

By Lora S. Irish

Reviewed By Matt Kelley

Not every book we review in WOM is a carving technique or pattern book;  every once in a while we run across a resource book not specific for carving that none-the-less has wide applicability for our art.   Lora Irish’s Great Book of Celtic Patterns is just such a book.

Anyone who knows me or has followed WOM for some years knows of my particular affection for art Celtic.   As I am always looking for useful Celtic art resources, Lora’s book immediately caught my attention.  Unfortunately,  it’s taken until now for me to get to writing a review. 

Celtic artwork includes celtic knots, geometric patterns, spiral and key pattern designs.  In order to keep a manageable scope for this book, Lora limited coverage to the period 700 to 1150 AD.  This choice excludes the pre-Christian era geometric, spiral and key pattern designs, and focuses on the period when the Viking invasions of the British Isles resulted in a significant influence of the art of the time.  That influence can be directly traced to the modern interpretations of Celtic knotwork that is displayed in this volume.

This book is a large format soft-cover of 190 pages, finished with the usual high production values we typically see from Fox Chapel. Chapters include:

Chapter 1            The Origins of Celtic Knots
Chapter 2            Gallery
Chapter 3            Celtic Line and Knot Patterns
Chapter 4            Plotting and Graphing Knots
Chapter 5            Layout Ideas
Chapter 6            Pattern Changes
Chapter 7            Finials for Interlocking Designs
Chapter 8            Line Enhancements
Chapter 9            Adding Color
Chapter 10          Celtic Knot Patterns
Glossary of Terms

Chapter 1 offers a good overview of the origins of interlocking and interlaced designs.   Early Celtic art,  and the Viking influence on Celtic art are discussed.   This is followed by an excellent timeline covering the various stages in the evolution of Celtic art between 700 and 1150 AD, along with detailed descriptions of each period.   Finally, the impact on modern Celtic art is touched upon.

Chapter 2 includes a gallery of modern Celtic art in various mediums, including carvings, pyrography, various paints, and block cuts.

Chapter 3 - The goal of this chapter is to foster a basic understanding of twists, braids and knotted lines in Celtic art, including inserted and interlocking units.

Chapter 4 provides a good introduction in the use of graph paper to create and modify knot lines.. The methods illustrated are less complex then those presented in some other books, and are thus particularly suited to the person new to knotwork design.

Chapter 5 includes information for creating border, interlocking knots and corners.

Chapter 6 introduces methods to modify designs to fit in a particular space.

Chatper 7 provides a very nice collection of finials for dressing up designs;  examples of animals, leaves and scrolls are included.

Chapter 8 covers the use of accents and interior designs to create more complex designs.

Chapter 9 – Adding Color,  is perhaps of less interest to carvers, but worth reading none-the-less.

Chapter 10,  at 107 pages, comprises more then one-half the book.  The chapter features an exhaustive collection of line and color drawings of various forms of Celtic artwork.  For a carver looking for inspiration, this is a great place to start looking.

If you have a budding interest in Celtic art and knotwork in particular,  this is an excellent first book.    If you are more knowledgeable of the art form, but are looking for a good resource book,  this would also be an excellent addition to your reference library.  

You'll find more information about Celtic artwork in WOM Volume 5 Issue 1 here

-- Matt Kelley, Editor/Owner


Copyright 2009, All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.