Thread Bare

A crafty new necklace that's sew easy to wear. By Christene Barberich
yarboroughthreadopenEast Village-based designer Elizabeth Yarborough doesn't think like other jewelry designers. In fact, her fanciful handmade accessories seem more like outsider artworks you'd discover in a display case up at the Folk Art Museum. Instead of playing around with old charms or big plastic baubles, the southern-born designer knits bangles, makes cocktail rings out of tiny dollhouse roasts, and fashions feathers into dream-catcher earrings. Lucky for us, her latest series of curiosities are no less intriguing.
In a small collection that includes a range of necklaces and bracelets, Yarborough has substituted brightly hued spools of thread for traditional gem stones or vintage beads. "Honestly, the idea came to me in a dream this past August," Yarborough says. "I dreamed I was wearing a necklace strung with colorful spools of thread. I was holding it and playing with it and trying to figure out how it was made. I woke up and went straight to the garment district for supplies, and completed the design by nighttime." The designer adds that the inspiration goes back even further to her childhood. "As a little girl, I loved organizing my mother's sewing kit, arranging and rearranging the spools of thread. I still find them so inherently beautiful, as big blocks of color and as perfectly functional little tools."
Like the grownup macaroni necklace of our day—with a little Fisher Price-Frida Kahlo flair—the designer's simple collar features multicolored cotton spools strung with wooden beads on a leather cord, and her longer elegant jumbo spool Pendulum style would make a psychedelic replacement for all those gold-plated pendants from last summer. Jewelry or spoolery? Either way, we'll be wearing ours come spring.
Spool Collar necklace (top), $100, available through
A crafty new necklace that's sew easy to wear.

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