Cooper Hewitt says...

Barbara Natoli Witt studied fine art and graphic design at Cooper Union, and art history at Berkeley. She became interested in textile techniques and taught classes in weaving, rug design, lace making, and macramé in the Bay Area, where one of her students introduced her to a collection of antique beads. Soon after, Witt began to incorporate beads, talismans, and amulets into the broad, woven collars of her design.

Witt’s neckpieces usually begin with a special ornament, or with the interests of a particular client. She works closely with both the object and her client. The whole composition, motifs, and color scheme of a necklace will revolve around the form and meaning of a central antique bead or talisman. Once the nylon threads are hand dyed, Witt chooses the weaving, knotting, or lace-making techniques to best complement the central ornament. Other beads or ornaments are subsequently chosen to strengthen the theme.

Witt’s clients have included artists, politicians, fashion icons, socialites, and Hollywood celebrities. Among them are Diana Vreeland, Eleanor Lambert, Clare Booth Luce, Pamela Harriman, Dinah Shore, Marella Agnelli, Nancy Marks, and Beatrice Wood, a ceramist who created special ornaments for Witt’s pieces.

Eve Auchincloss, “Woven Jewels: Unique Creations By Barbara Natoli Witt,” Connoisseur Magazine, July 1989, 67–71.
Anne Marie Schiro, “Gleams of Found Art Jewelry,” The New York Times, December 2, 1980.