Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Handmade Portuguese tile azulejo necklaces

In my last post, I shared stories and photos about our trip to Switzerland and Portugal. At this point, it's been about three weeks since we've returned, but I still have our travels on my mind.

Switzerland was beautiful, but while in Portugal, I was very taken by the gorgeous tiled buildings. They're on nearly every little, winding street and one is more stunning than the next. The Portuguese are, of course, very proud of these tiles -- azulejos -- and sell them in almost every shop.

Azulejo jewelry is also ubiquitous. Basically, photos of the tiles are placed into a glass cabochon tray and then attached to a bracelet or necklace chain, or ring backing, or whatever. The jewelry is cute and affordable and a great way to "wear" one of the azulejos. I purchased a couple of azulejo bracelets from a woman who was selling them outside of one the churches we visited. The bracelet had a photo of a blue and white tile, and a band made of cork. It was really simple, but pretty.

I loved my bracelet, but it broke after only two days. I was upset for a few minutes, but then thought, "I can just fix it... or better yet, make my own version."

As soon as we got home, I ordered some inexpensive glass cabochon trays. I then printed out the azulejo photos I'd taken, many which were close-ups. While taking the pictures, I kept saying to my husband, "I need to stop photographing these. I'm going to have too many similar-looking pictures!" Now I'm glad I was so obsessed with the tiles.

After printing out the pictures, I simply cut the photos to fit the cabochon... and voila! Here are my versions of the azulejo necklace:

Now again, this is NOT my idea. This type of jewelry is sold in literally every store and on every street corner in Portugal. You see it everywhere, from outside churches -- like where I bought my bracelet -- to the airport. I can't even credit a particular artist because so many people make these items. However, I did personalize mine by using my photos. I also figure that azulejo necklaces aren't that popular in New York, so I plan to sell them at Ridgewood Market this month. I'm going to display a photo of the Portuguese tiled homes I photographed and then have the necklaces hanging next to it. This way, customers can see where the pictures came from -- and can wear a tiny piece of Portugal.

These necklaces are easy enough to make that I'm going to teach my seniors how to create them in this week's class. First, I'll show them my photos from the trip and will then instruct them on how to make a necklace. I think they'll enjoy getting a presentation and a project.

Meantime, my goal is to make my own glass azulejos. Much as I like these necklaces, I much prefer making original pieces. I just have to come up with a great design for a mosaic.

Check out the rest of my azulejo jewelry and other handmade pieces at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.