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Wonderful surprise for me! Making Jewellery, Britain’s top selling jewellery making magazine, held a design challenge back in July, with the winners to be announced in this month’s issue. Imagine my glee at seeing my Sea Urchin and Soutache necklace taking first place! Thrilled to see my necklace in a magazine and really pleased with their comments on it!
“Jo’s necklace is our winner; it’s beautifully designed and looks amazing. We particularly like the way she has used the colours from the photo as her inspiration.”
A unique handmade necklace featuring a natural sea urchin shell. In this necklace I combined beadwork with a touch of soutache to frame a wonderful sea urchin shell. A chunky sea glass fringe and thick braided leather cord complete this original piece.
The beautiful, clear blue sea that surrounds the Maltese Islands is not only a great source of inspiration, it is also occasionally a source of my materials.
Sea urchin shells make wonderful focal features in jewellery and accessories. I collect only sea urchin shells and never live sea urchins. The shells are extremely fragile and must be washed very carefully and strengthened before they can be used.
Sea urchin shells, washed.
After washing the shells I check them and put aside those with visible defects. The good ones make it to the the next step: strengthening. This is when I I fill them and apply several coats of non-yellowing varnish.
Sea urchin shells, filling and varnishing.
Now the fun begins, deciding what I’m going to do with them!
The jury is out and my “Folk Fest Necklace”, which was entered for the Finished Jewelry category of the 2013 Fashion Colorworks Beading Contest, didn’t make it to the final ten.
It was clear even from the thumbnails that some wonderful creations were participating in all three categories. It was really beneficial for me to take on the challenge and create my first major work featuring Soutache. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
A big well done to all finalists. Click here to visit the contest page and vote on your favourites. The People’s Choice Award voting will be open until July 5.
I’ve been seeing lots of pictures of Soutache work and thought “Yippee! Something new to try!!”
Very similar in technique to bead embroidery, flat back cabochons are stuck to a backing such as Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, with beads and Soutache cord stitched around the focal cab. Soutache can also be stitched directly to drilled beads without the need for a foundation.
Soutache work is very time consuming and great care has to be taken to ensure that the needle passes exactly through the centre channel on the soutache cord and also to make sure that the thread isn’t pulled too tight or the cord will pucker up.
My first Soutache work was a pendant. The focal Turquoise cabochon was undrilled so I worked with a foundation.
Pendant with Soutache cord by gr8jewellery. Work in progress.
I stuck Ultra Suede to the back to hide and secure all the ends, then stitched it to the foundation for a lasting finish.
Hand stitched backing on Soutache pendant.
The finished necklace. Suede cord in turquoise and lime green and clasp with extender chain.