Tag Archives: metal

One Shell of a Necklace


collection of shell buttons

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

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.
carved buttons

Carved Buttons

close up shell button necklace

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. shellnecklace1

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

Shell Button Earrings




The brass chain

Charm bracelets are hard to make. I’ve been working on the same one for several days. I have an idea in my head and I have some awesome charms, buttons and beads to add to it. I just can’t seemed to place the items on the chain in a pattern that suits me.

1 option


It’s much easier when you make a beaded bracelet and can make a patten with the beads or just add them randomly using color or size as a guide.

A necklace is simple because their is one focal point, the front of the chest. The catch is almost always in the back so it’s usually not a consideration in the design. Every once in a while you will see a toggle or a lobster claw as part of the “front” of a design.

Another option

A bracelet is in the round so the focal point changes depending on how it’s resting on the wrist. The catch has to be incorporated into the design because it’s always visible.

Honesty, I’ve probably made 10 different bracelets in my attempt to complete this one. I’ve used a lot of metal making connectors. I consider that practice, although I hate to waste supplies. I’ve added and removed buttons and beads so many times I’ve lost count.

Red flat beads

Finishing this bracelet will happen. The labor costs alone on this piece are ridiculous which leaves me no choice. For this reason the labor will now be referred to as “schooling”. I hope my “schooling” paves the way for many new designs that happen a little faster.

Another idea

I’ve never been one to begrudge gaining knowledge through experience. New things take time to learn and it’s not a wasted effort for me. I do know chained is where I’ll be until I find the key, or figure out how to make this damn bracelet work.

Buying Inspiration


No garage sales Saturday! Thunderstorms and flash floods forced us to abandon garage selling, so we decided to visit one of our favorite local bead stores in Austin, Bead It! I have three stores I frequent because they each have their own unique inventory. Shopping at Bead It! requires no list. You shop there to discover one of a kind items and a variety of extraordinary jewelry…stuff. The only reason you would need a list, is to remind you to buy a few more of the items you bought previously, and want more of.

One of my favorite things to buy there is “Bead Soup”. Five dollars gets you a 2″ x 3″ bag of glass beads, crystals, and various other types of beads.

Bead Soup

I love it because I’m always inspired by the strange and unusual beads and the surprise element. I might find them in the store but it’s more fun to scoop them into the bag and check them all out once I’m at home.

Isabelle had a purpose. She wants a Goddess Girl necklace so we found some really cool gold coins with Greek profiles on them and I made a pair of earrings for her.

Goddess Girl Earrings

I’m still working on the necklace. It’s been exciting to get out of my “normal” realm of thinking and make something for her with her guiding me.

Owls are another huge interest for her and while I was looking through some metal charms, she accompanied one of the employees to some awesome glass owl beads. She just bought one and when we got home, I realized that I needed more…So I will add that to the list for the next time I go and I will buy more owls.

Awesome glass owl bead that Isabelle picked out!

I don’t always have to spend money to be inspired, although my husband might argue otherwise! It was nice to get out in the horrible weather and find a source of sunshine and happiness. All artists have their own way of getting inspired. For me, it’s about seeing so many possibilities and being able to act on a few by making a purchase here or there. Who says you can’t buy inspiration…

I love these glass beads. They remind me of neon fish.