Erin Essiambre of Salt Water Stitches combines the delicate and ornate art of hand embroidery with the whimsical charm of handmade jewelry. And her gorgeous embroidery designs just might take you back a few decades. Her unique stitches embody a retro yet modern take on the traditional craft, with a nostalgic aesthetic that calls back to the far-out era of the groovy seventies. Born from a simple design of a figure outlined in black and white—later dubbed “Retro Girl”—that incorporated splashes of warm color, her distinctive style has since evolved to take on a life of its own.
“The more that I leaned into the retro style and tones of the 70s, the more I felt like I was starting to find my own unique style!” Essiambre tells My Modern Met. “I find inspiration from everywhere, but mainly from music and fashion. When I listen to Fleetwood Mac or ABBA, I like to try and transfer the way that their music makes me feel into an embroidery design!”
Essiambre’s innovation didn’t stop there. With a jewelry artist for a sister, embroidered jewelry was always something she wanted to try. But the budding embroiderer initially started out by making more traditional pieces to be displayed in wooden hoops. “I loved the pieces that I had been creating, but I wanted to turn it into wearable art somehow,” the artist explains.
“This simple idea led me to experiment with the idea of embroidered pendants. At first, I tried to embroider my more intricate designs on a pendant which did not prove successful as the space on a pendant face is much smaller. I began to play with the idea of just taking my favorite aspects of each design and translating it to a pendant which is the way I still come up with new pendant designs to this day!”
Each of her cute embroidered pendant necklaces is made with the utmost care and attention. The process of crafting handmade jewelry can already be quite intricate, but bringing embroidery into the mix adds a whole other element. After coming up with an initial design, Essiambre then gets to work on the actual stitching. And even with a surface area of no more than a couple of inches, each pendant can take a few hours to finish.
“I really love to take my time and ensure that each stitch is being perfectly placed to make the design come to life!” says Esseiambre. “By the time an embroidered pendant is complete, so much love and attention to detail has gone into it that I sometimes find it hard to part with them!…Being able to create something that comes from my heart and seeing customers purchase it and welcome that piece into their own lives is truly rewarding and fulfilling. I never thought that this is the path that my life would take, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”