Collection of Shell Buttons
A friend gave me a small baggie of vintage Mother of Pearl and Shell buttons that she loves to make her a necklace. The first thing I noticed when she handed them to me was the weight. It was so heavy. Buttons are made out of plastic now and are virtually weightless. I was intrigued.
I open the baggie and spread them across my rug. Most buttons were round, but there were oval, rectangle, and square ones.
Odd Shaped Buttons
I also found these beautiful moon shaped buttons that I loved. I had no clue how I would use them on a necklace. I found a heart shaped button. I knew I had to use this one. I’m a sucker for hearts! Another interesting detail to these vintage buttons is the carving. Some were smooth, but the majority of them have intricate carvings on the front of the buttons. It’s strange to think that buttons contributed to the overall aesthetic of a piece of clothing. Nowadays buttons serve almost completely as utilitarian items that close the ends of fabric.
Shell Button Necklace Close-Up
I pulled several buttons out that I thought I could work with to make the necklace. The large one with all the holes around would be perfect for the central part of the necklace. I knew I could hang other buttons and charms from it. I built the necklace from there and added a dragon fly charm. I remembered that my friend has a delicate tattoo around her wrist of elephants. I removed the dragon fly and added an Indian brass elephant…PERFECT!
Next, what type of chain do I use? I thought about a beaded chain but it just seemed to ordinary. I found an old brass chain with little flat metal charms attached. This could be it. I loved the metal charms but I feared it would take away from the beautiful center piece I had created. I removed them all but kept one to add to the end of the necklace. I also added a couple of inches of larger old brass chain. Now she has the option to wear the necklace long or as a choker.
LIGHTBULB GOES OFF! The little metal charms hanging off the base chain gave me the idea to attach a few of the moon buttons in a similar way. I arranged them a few times to make sure that the length of the necklace would feature the moon buttons as well as the centerpiece independent of the length she chose to wear the necklace.
This is my favorite necklace to date. It’s always special when you don’t have to struggle to make something work. Struggle can be good and teaches you. It’s the magic of creating. Your mind directing your hands in a seamless way. That’s what drives an artist. I also made some earrings from two matching buttons. I couldn’t help myself 🙂 Thanks TJ for the experience.
Shell Button Earrings
Buttons Bygone, brass charm bracelet
It’s finished! The bracelet that took forever is finally finished and listed on etsy. This project was really tough for me. It required a lot of planning and executing. There are 25 individual pieces on it. Nine are hand-crafted findings. Creating those findings took quite a bit of experimentation to get the look and length I wanted.
I’m not complaining by any means. I know it takes time and effort to accomplish your goal. I’ve learned that time and time again with running and weight lifting. You can not make your objectives happen over night. There is no amount of hoping and praying that will work. You must put in the time and dedicate yourself to the task at hand.
Buttons Bygone is a piece that I’m really proud of. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and I’m super excited to do it again. Attaching the charms to the chain will be less time-consuming now that I know the proper way to do it. There is a method. I’m inspired. I can’t wait to go out this weekend and look for charms and items I can make into charms.
I have to admit, I am a little sad about giving up the buttons. I have a bad habit of getting attached to certain objects. The look or feel of an item will appeal to me. Sometimes it’s because I bought it at an estate sale and I feel like I know the person who used to own it. They kept for a reason and although I don’t know their reason, it makes it special to me. Other objects come from a thrift or antique store. I’ve made friends with the owners so I think of them when I see the objects and that gives them meaning.
Maybe I’m just a sentimental person, but I think that describes most artists and in particular jewelry artists. You are making pieces for people to adorn their body. Most jewelry is given for a reason or sentiment. It only makes sense that jewelry pieces have meaning.
Ultimately, I’m glad I was able to finish because now I’m ready for a new challenge. Like any good race, you savor the ecstasy of the moment you finished. You enjoy bragging rights for day or two. Then it’s back to work. It’s the same for artists.
So bye-bye buttons….Be gone! Bring on the next challenge…
Buttons Bygone, a labor of love and learning...