Strange Twist: Jewelry by Amee K. Sweet-McNamara

Embroidery and beads take a turn for the better with eye-popping consequences.

Making the world a prettier place, one bead at a time. That's the humble mantra of Amee K. Sweet-McNamara of Merrimack.

The fabric artist came from the black and white world of space planning, her first career. Now, she feels like a kid with a treasure trove of colorful beads, buttons and rolls of fabric soutache at her command.

Sweet-McNamara's work is also available at Noa Gifts in Cambridge, Mass.

Fun indeed. Sweet-McNamara's colorful and fanciful necklaces are all about making people smile - when they look at them and when they wear them. As she says, "I'm in a happy place creating amidst beads and fabric."

Soutache is the material used for braiding on military and band uniforms, but in a twist, she turns it on its side, stitching layers together for a multi-color look. Beads, opaque or mirror-backed, are tucked and stitched inside the curves of the fabric and all the elements are stitched onto an ultra-suede backing. To finish, tiny beads are sewn on the edges.

Sweet-McNamara rapidly became the US expert in the art of soutache when Bead and Button magazine called. Now she travels the country teaching the technique and spreading the joy. Her "how to" book is coming out in November, published by Kalmbach Publishing. Find her work at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen shops in Meredith and Nashua and on her website. Check it Thanksgiving weekend for special pricing for stock on hand.

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