Peek Inside my Stitching Process at Suzanne Schwartz Jewelry
My grandma Lee Lee planted the seed that sprouted my love of stitching. She’s why I first explored how to use stitching in my jewelry.
As a young girl, I remember Lee Lee visiting nearly every weekend. All week I waited with excitement and anticipation, wondering what project we’d work on together or what knitting and sewing projects we’d get into.
My grandma knit sweaters for us kids and made us dresses for special occasions. We always got to pick our patterns and colors. I can still feel the anticipation and excitement as I watched Lee Lee’s quick hands and waited for my finished sweater or dress. Lee Lee taught me to sew, read and cut a pattern. I loved being able to design and create my own clothes, and that’s when my love affair with fabric and textiles began.
From this early influence, my passion ignited for textiles, texture, and the drape and fluidity of fabric. I fell in love with the look of a broken stitch, and now I use it in my jewelry to create texture and coloration.
How I incorporate stitching into a piece of beautiful finished jewelry is a process I’ve developed through much trial and error.
First, I make the silver or gold components for the piece of jewelry. Depending on the design, these might be squares, circles, or organic shapes. While the shapes are still flat, I drill the holes that will eventually hold my fine silver or 22k gold stitches. After drilling the holes, I form the components by hammering them into 3-dimensional shapes, transforming them from flat to curved.
I could consider the piece finished at this point, but I LOVE my stitches, and this is where my work evolves into something special and unique. The stitching has become my signature design element!
The photo below shows a piece of jewelry before stitching.
Next, I begin to stitch using fine silver or 22k gold. I’m very intentional with my choices, using different thicknesses of wire depending on the piece and the look I want to create. I’ve developed a set pattern for some pieces, as shown in the photo below.
However, I don’t use a pattern for all of my work. As the name suggests, the is much more intuitive by design. I rely on my unique visual aesthetic and stitching by eye. My lifelong love of stitching contributes to this fluid process. If I create stitches and don’t like the pattern, I’ll take them out and start over until I’m completely satisfied with the result.
When I stitch, it’s essential that I make the stitches tight enough to hold their shape without disrupting the crisp line. It’s critical NOT to break the wire. I use the pliers to pull on the wire to achieve the proper tautness, but not SO much that the wire snaps.
Unlike thread, when I’m stitching with wire, I must be careful not to bend it too much, which causes unsightly creases. Too much bending can also cause the wire to break. Not fun! This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I usually have to start all over again, and I’m NOT a happy girl!
When I’m satisfied with the design and placement of my stitches, I carefully check to ensure all the ends are smooth and the stitches are tight and secure. It’s important to note that my stitching is a signature design element, but the stitches do not hold the pieces together. Instead, I use various soldering techniques to ensure many years of durable wearability. The cluster bracelet below shows that each little square is made, secured, and stitched.
My Materials are Chosen with Intention
It’s important to me that my clients enjoy wearing their jewelry often! This core value drives each decision about what materials to use. Low maintenance and durability are top priorities, so I’ve chosen to work with Argentium silver, fine silver, and 22k solid gold wire for my stitching. These wires are highly tarnish-resistant, hypoallergenic, bright in color, and easy to achieve the desired stitching.
My solid shapes are created from Argentium silver, oxidized silver, and bi-metal, a combination of 22k on one side and sterling silver on the other.
Read more about my materials HERE.
How Much Wire Goes Into a Piece?
There is probably way more wire in each piece than you’d think.
Let’s have some fun with a guessing game!
How many feet of fine silver wire is used in my Sew Weave Necklace?
Answer: 22 feet
Guess how many feet of 22k gold myDouble Sewn 22k Circle Earring has?
How many feet of 22k gold do you think myOpen Square Necklace has?
I’ll never tire of looking at the patterns and textures I can create with my stitching. My grandma Lee Lee was patient in her teaching, never rushing or leaving out details. Time spent together felt nurturing and loving. These memories are deep in my roots as an artist and designer. Without them, my process wouldn’t exist, and my journey would look entirely different.
Watch the stitching process in action HERE!
Have more questions about my process or my work? I’m happy to chat. Let’s CONNECT!