Getting to Know: Soutache Artist and Instructor Amee Sweet McNamara
Have you signed up yet for our next live webinar, Soutache Made Simple with Amee Sweet McNamara? Read on to learn more about this talented jewelry and soutache artist!
Where are you from originally, and where do you currently live? I was born just outside Chicago but my family moved to New Hampshire when I was in middle school. I still live in New Hampshire because my mother and I are very close, and I never live far away from her.
What do you do besides beading/soutache? I was a professional interior designer for over twenty-five years but, as of this year, I am self-employed as a soutache and bead embroidery artist and instructor.
How and when did you start beading/soutache? I was pretty normal until I saw a photo of one of Sherry Serafini's necklaces on the cover of a beading magazine about ten years ago. After that, I was hopelessly lost in beads, and I started working in soutache around 2007.
Do you prefer to work from patterns, or design your own? I never work from a pattern. Most times, I really don't even know if what I'm working on is going to grow up to be until it's done. It might be a necklace, it might be a bracelet…or it could be a slip-cover for a sofa…!
How would you describe your personal style? My personal style is, in a word, "kaleidoscopic." While I'm constantly shifting between classic, bohemian and rockabilly influences, a passionate love of color remains constant. Color is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It drives my work. It makes me happy.
What other creative pursuits do you enjoy? Other than beading? Wait… you mean… there's other stuff? I don't understand the question…
Tell us about your studio/workspace… what kind of space inspires you? Oddly enough, what inspires me the most is organization. Like so many of us, my studio is small but it accommodates me and the two amazing women who work for me. Sometimes it's crowded, especially when we're getting ready for a class or a show. But we all work to keep it tidy and put things back where they belong. I find that the actual process of clearing things away is very motivating. I'm always "rediscovering" treasures I hoarded away.
What's your soutache secret weapon? My "soutache secret weapon?" That would be "faith." Having worked with the material for so long, I truly understand that it wants to do what I want it to do. I don't need to force it or be aggressive with it, when it comes to manipulating soutache, less is more. The sooner an artist loosens up and lightens up, the better the work becomes. Work that is "overworked", i.e., over-stitched or pulled on too hard, looks just that — overworked.
How do you stay motivated on long projects? I always have about ten different projects going simultaneously, so when I need a break, I just move on to something else for awhile. When I'm on the home stretch, however, I get really excited about the prospect of two things: wearing the finished piece and cleaning off my board to start fresh on something new.
What has been your favorite project recently? Earlier this year, for about a minute and a half of my life, I dated this really hot biker dude. I ended up being inspired to work in a much edgier black/red/silver color-way complete with skulls and chain and black crystals. It was SO outside my regular comfort zone, but crazy fun. I'm finishing up a high collar right now and will probably make one more piece in this style, a "slave-bracelet/ring" combination, and then I feel like I'll have about exhausted my interest in those colors and textures. Then I'll be back to my regularly scheduled program of super-bright colors, flowers, leaves and unicorns eating candy and burping rainbows.
What's your current beading soundtrack? Hi, My name is Amee and I am a television-a-holic. Music is great when I'm writing, doing photography or working in the office but if I'm creating, I'm parked on the sofa with the television on. I'm terrible. I just binged-watched all four seasons of the The Walking Dead in one week, just in time for the premier of Season 5. Problem was, it got so "into my head" that everywhere I went, I thought I was seeing zombies…
If you want to learn more about how to do soutache, make sure you register now for Soutache Made Simple with Amee Sweet-McNamara on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. EST. Listen and watch as Amee covers topics like basic soutache bead embroidery supplies, basic techniques for creating soutache, professional-looking finishing techniques, and more!