Soutache- 30 Gorgeous Bead Embroidery Designs by Anneta Valious is a collection of wonderful instructions for all sorts of jewelry items made using soutache and beads.
Soutache is a decorative narrow flat braid that has a groove the center. It is generally stitched to a fabric background along that groove. It's been used for a very long time as a decoration on clothing and the book starts with the history of soutache embroidery on clothing.
Soutache bead embroidery is done differently than soutache decorations on fabric though. Instead of being sewn to a fabric backing, the braid is sewn to itself with beads and cabochons incorporated in the sewing. The effect is lush and lends itself well to curves and scroll like shapes.
The introduction covers tools, materials and techniques. You'll learn the differences between the types of soutache easily available currently, what kind of thread and needles to use and how to start and finish pieces neatly so you don't have fraying ends showing.
Then the projects which do a wonderful job of showing the versatility of this fantastic beading technique. There are bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and even a couple of hair accessories.
The projects are separated by technique. The first section is simple designs which use beads and buttons. While the author calls the projects simple, the end effect is stylish. The curves and layers of colors create stunning visual interest. My favorite project in this section is the Atlantis pendant. It's ornate curves, sparkling beads and clever clasp make it a dressy, artistic winner.
The next section of projects focuses on things with cabochons and has more intricate beadwork. This set includes the cover projects, the Capriccio necklace and earrings set. My favorite project in this chapter in this section is the Ishtar necklace. Done in various shades earthy tones, it has a lot of shine from sparkling beads and crystals, lustrous pearls and the sheen of the soutache. A photograph shows it as a long necklace and as a choker so you can see how this looks at both lengths.
The last section focuses on crystals like rivolis and includes more traditional off loom bead weaving techniques such as peyote stitch. In the table of contents this section is called "Extravagant", but since a lot of the projects from the other 2 chapters are quite extravagant, what makes these stand out is the use of faceted crystals, rhinestone chains and other forms of flash and sparkle. This is the bling. My favorite project in this chapter is the Art Deco earrings which use the sculptural effect of soutache very effectively to create sleek, shining earrings which remind one of art deco jewelry from the past.
After all the projects is a great gallery of inspirational pieces.
If you've had the slightest interest in this fantastic beading technique, this is a great book to get started on learning to create your own. The projects in it are well explained, and the order of the projects will teach you all the techniques you need to start designing your own pieces. I absolutely recommend this book to all levels of beaders. The photos and instructions are clear and easy to understand.
You can download a free project from this book from Lark Books here
Published by Lark Crafts
Chronicle Books who kindly provided a copy to me free of charge for review purposes. My reviews are always my honest opinion.
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