Amee K. Sweet-McNamara's Insect Jewelry

Fun and fantasy with polymer clay




Ormolu insects are about 3 inches across and can be worn as pins, pendants or just left to guard a box of jewelry. $110 to $130. Courtesy Photo.

Enjoy your life. Enjoy your jewelry. Wise words from bold textile jeweler Amee K. Sweet-McNamara of Andover. She spreads the joy of shape, texture and color across the world with her colorful jewelry design books on soutache jewelry that uses colorful beads and braided cords.

Part of her jewelry has always been built around her own polymer clay beads, but lately she’s been “hungry for more.” At a recent local artisan showcase, customers were asking for ladybugs and bees. She dutifully tried her hand at making small bugs, and her first attempts, though lacking, eventually led to the birth of her “ormolu insects,” which have liquid polymer clay wings for a touch of realistic translucency.

The ormolu name is from the decorative metal (usually brass) used in ornate designs on Louis XV to Victorian-age furniture — the richness of detail became the inspiration for her beguiling bugs. With their intricacies and lively frosting-like shimmer, they need to be added to the taxonomic order of the animal kingdom even though they were born in a toaster oven.

Soutache remains her focus, but this doesn’t rule out a bug’s life. She’s been a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen since 2011, and exhibits annually at the Sunapee Fair in August and at the Paradise City art fair in Northampton, Massachusetts, in May. She is also the author of “Elegant Soutache” and “Soutache and Bead Embroidery,” and teaches textile jewelry workshops across the US.

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