That animals, real and imagined, played a great role in medieval society is clear from the images in The Grand Medieval Bestiary: Animals in Illuminated Manuscripts, by Christian Heck and Remy Cordonnier (Abbeville, $185; $135 introductory price through Dec. 31). This gorgeous outsized volume contains essays and nearly 600 full-color images of animals from an agricultural age in which they had much greater symbolic significance than they do today. Some of the illustrators obviously never saw the beasts they were drawing, though there’s a great level of detail in each beautiful illustration: the griffin is as meticulously rendered as the chicken.
James Della, author and photographer of Glass: The James Della Collection (Prism Press, $60), documents the extensive array of the glass he’s been amassing since the early 1980s. He has collected all forms: blown, slumped, fused, cast, coldworked and lampworked. The book includes 484 full-color photographs, intended to celebrate the artists. Some pages show the artist’s range: for instance, Randy Strong’s rounded vases of the ‘90s, and his sinuous and elongated forms of the early 2000s. The layout is only somewhat alphabetical. Della says he wanted readers “to experience the possibility of a unique surprise each time they turned a page.”
A hamburger, a white rabbit, an eyeball and a caterpillar are a few of the unexpected subjects that find their way into contemporary mosaics, all documented in Mosaic Art Today, edited by Jeffrey B. Snyder (Schiffer, $50). The book includes more traditional forms, such as swimming pools, murals and windows, but it also showcases the wide range of materials and subjects brought to this ancient art form by contemporary artists. The works show a wide range of styles and materials, with some emphasis on getting shape into the artwork, or putting mosaics on shapes, from concrete animals to a shirt with undulating folds.
From Lark Books comes Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry, by Ray Hemachandra (Lark Crafts, $27.95). The 500 pieces, selected from submissions by 360 artists from 30 countries, range from strands to woven designs to bead embroidery and include necklaces and neckpieces, pins, collars, cuffs, bracelets, even dresses. Hemachandra notes in his introduction that thanks to social media, beaders have become a community where the interchange of ideas is in constant motion.
For more of “Arts Reader,” pick up a copy of the Fall issue of AmericanStyle magazine.