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Soutache & Bead Embroidery
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Soutache & Bead Embroidery introduces a fascinating new technique to bead enthusiasts, fiber artists, and jewelry makers. This thin, colorful cord can be wound, bound, and stitched into place with beautiful beads and findings, resulting in fabulous and affordable jewelry. Learning to combine cording with crystals, seed beads, and more offers designers creative ways of using fiber in their pieces -- a hot jewelry-making trend.

• Learning soutache embroidery requires no expensive tools or materials
• Each of 18 unique projects showcases a different technique and design suggestion
• Easy earrings to exotic necklaces will inspire jewelry makers of all levels
96 pages • 300 color photos
Price: $21.99
Product Number: 67507
ISBN: 9780871167507
Carton Quantity: 48
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It still astounds me to know soutache (pronounced as "su-tash") jewelry was pioneered as long ago as the 1980's by Dori Csengeri (see my past post) and yet it's only in the last few years that this technique has really become popular. The internet surely had something to do with it!

There are just a handful of soutache jewelry books. I received one of the newest, Soutache and Bead Embroidery by Amee Sweet-McNamara which showcases 18 beautiful combination projects designed to instruct and inspire.

The beginning of the book covers the basic materials needed as well as techniques on how to produce the distinctive shaping of layers of soutache braids. The book's three chapters takes the reader through progressive stages of Creating Basic Shapes, Adding Elements and Layers and Light.

Besides the obvious shapes like circles, spirals and pinwheels, the lovely swirling shapes unique to soutache jewelry making had equally names, a testament to the author's imagination and creativity - koala face, the harp and lily. The halo - a bead and soutache arc - is a beautiful feature for the Sparrow's Nest earrings.

One really useful technique shown was how to include jump rings into some of the designs. These allowed easy attachment to bails, ear wires and dangles.

One of my favorite designs from the book was not the most complicated. Far from it, it was a simple approach of using soutache to frame lovely shield shaped cabochons with beaded bezels. It is a good reminder that soutache braiding need not be heavily used.

Many of the projects in the book are not overly large physical projects. Indeed there are a number of earring designs which are perfect for those just starting out. But if you like the bold and colorful look of soutache jewelry, there are also a number of bigger projects like the Triple Swirl necklace.

This book is more than just a celebration of soutache jewelry. It also shows the coming of age of this technique as artisans seek to push the boundaries of what can be done with these braids.

-Pearl Blay, The Beading Gem's Journal

I shared a Jewel School appearance with Amee. She was wonderfully candid and very passionate about what she could do with soutache. I enjoyed spending time with her. At the time, her book was in the editing process, but I could see just how excited she was for it to come out. Soutache is so colorful and fun and therefore this book looks beautiful! The projects just jump right off the page. "Inside you'll find: 18 detailed projects for beginners to intermediate stitchers, each demonstrating a new technique or design idea, a thorough basics section with techniques for working with soutache and a beautiful gallery of the author's work to inspire your own creativity." Are you familiar with soutache? "Soutache is a braid made up of fine fibers wrapped figure-eight style around two cords." So soutache is actually the material used and this books shows you several ways of using it. By stitching various colors and adding beads, you can make some really amazing designs. This is another good beginner start up gift as it doesn't require any major tools to get started. This book paired with some soutache cord would make a perfect gift!

-Sara Oehler, SoftFlexGirl

Amee K. Sweet-McNamara is an artist with a uniquely talented ability to make fascinating and stunningly beautiful jewelry using beads and fibers to create “curving, organic shapes and rich textural combinations.” This new technique, called “soutache,” is a process of using fibers wrapped in a figure-eight around two cords. The cords are then shaped in a curvilinear style around a central component, or group of components, including old beads, glass, shells, wood or stones. The resultant jewelry is an organic and beautiful work of art. Making soutache jewelry has its advantages: it is an inexpensive process, requiring only the soutache braid and beads, metallic findings or components of your choice. The possibilities of making unique, artistic pieces of jewelry are endless.

The author starts us off with the basic figure eight and koala shape (think of a round face with ears), then goes into more intricate curvilinear shapes to make as your confidence grows. The design examples are colorful, the materials lists are included, and the instructions and photos are detailed enough for the basic beginner and cover techniques through advanced design.

Some of my favorite designs, like the "Suspended Stone" necklace, incorporate gemstones, drilled and undrilled. Some of the designs are reminiscent of lovely jewelry made around the turn of the century, and others like the “Full-Dress Thistle” earrings are whimsical and delicate. Amee also covers layering designs for added depth and appeal.

My favorite design is the “Lady Josephine” bracelet, which incorporates turquoise blue and light green colors, along with pearls and seeds, to create an elegant and unforgettable piece of art. Soutache & Bead Embroidery is an outstanding book, and a must have for anyone who loves beading.

-Linda Morelli,
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