[Shop] Taylors Buttons - London

Last summer and again this month, I visited the most incredible shop in London called Taylors Buttons. I'm in awe of the range of antique and one of a kind buttons that you can find in this Aladdin's cave of a store! The buttons here are made of a wide variety of materials from plastic, glass, metal, ceramic, crystal and leather, just to name a few! 

Inside the shop, the shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with box upon box of buttons, so the hardest thing is choosing which ones to buy!! Also, many of the buttons are quite old and not made anymore so it's a good chance to pick up some limited edition pieces!

The history of the shop itself is as interesting as the buttons it holds. Charles Dickens lived in the building twice during his life - you can see the distinctive blue plaque on the wall outside. It's also just down the road from what was once the Cleveland Street Workhouse, the same one which possibly inspired Dickens when writing Oliver Twist.

It was a real pleasure to meet the owner and proprietor of the store, Maureen Rose and to chat with her while I was there. She told me that her shop is over a 100 years old and that she and her late husband, Leon Rose, took over the business about 50 years ago.

Mrs Rose has made and supplied buttons for film, television and theatre as well as for fashion designers so her work has appeared in many performances on the screen and stage. She told me one of the best parts about this kind of work was the variety of people that come into her store - from someone trying to replace a missing button to others wanting something special like some hand covered buttons for a period TV drama.

Mrs Rose has been really helpful each time I've visited. She's always able to able to pick out something new and unique for me. I spent a very happy couple of hours pouring over buttons in their old boxes and I found a few hidden jems that I hope to make into some jewellery pieces! I particularly like these shell buttons (below) that were custom dyed in vibrant rainbow colours. A customer recently used some of the small purple ones on a waistcoat for his wedding day.

She also showed me these "goldfish" buttons (below left) - so called for their golden colour. They're made from abalone shell and have a lovely opal finish. I also picked up some unusual belt buckles (below right) that I might make into a brooch or a necklace. I love their organic lines!

The glass buttons in the shop are some of the most interesting ones I've seen! I chose some with a gun metal finish that really catch the light (below left). I also fell in love with these cone shaped ones (below right). I think they look a little like ornate parasols. The level of detail is amazing!

Then there are the purple and green glass leaf buttons (below left) that I think look a little art nouveau in style. I like their insect like iridescence. I was also drawn to these black, gold and silver buttons (below right) made from a variety of materials like metal, crystal and plastic. I wondering what kind of jewellery to make them into...

Many of the buttons in the store are very good value, costing around 50 pence a button. Even some of rare antique buttons like these red, green and blue crystal ones (below) with hand set stones are only a few pounds each.

Lunch from Le Pain Quotidian

Coming into Taylors Buttons, I felt at home. Its a relaxed and welcoming place - a lovely shop to spend an hour or two. While I was there, quite a few customers and friends stopped by for some button advice and a friendly chat with Mrs Rose. I get the sense that it's an important part of the local community. 

Also, it's only about a 5 minute walk from the British Museum so you can do a bit of site seeing nearby. And there are plenty of cafes in the surrounding streets where you can grab a bite to eat and have a well earned button break! 

Don't come here if you have a button phobia - as Mrs Rose told me, it's an actual phobia! As for me, I'll be sure to be back again soon! 

Cherry Pie Ring

It's summer here in Japan so stone fruits are back in season. Peaches, plums and of course, cherries. The buttons that make up this ring come from completely different places but together, they remind me of cherry pie and a little slice of summer!

I found the red button on one of my first visits to the Rollo store in Kyoto. It's made of moulded plastic and has a pearly finish. I love its bubbly surface and I haven't seen many other buttons quite like this one. It reminds me of the raspberry jelly lollies I used to eat when I was a kid. The kind you'd always get in a birthday party bag!

The little cherry button came from Taylors Buttons in London. (I'll be posting more about amazing store soon!) The button is made of mother of pearl. The cherry image has been transferred onto the front and the whole button has been coated with a shiny lacquer finish.

This ring was pretty easy to make. I glued the two buttons together first and then attached a silver ring to the back of the red button. Even though these buttons are quite different in style, I think they suit each other, a bit like cherry pie and ice cream.

Jet Black Necklace

Jet button necklace with carved facets

I've been posting a lot of earrings recently so I thought it was about time for a necklace! I bought these jet buttons when I was in London last summer. Their faceted surfaces are really bold and striking and add another dimension to these otherwise simple buttons. I love the way they catch and reflect the light around them.

Jet is a type of fossilised driftwood that has been formed over a long period of time after being trapped and compressed in mud. So jet is actually quite fragile and rare these days but it is easy to carve and has a brilliant lustre that it retains over time. It's also light and warm to the touch which makes it a lovely material for jewellery.

Here's a bit of background about jet jewellery. It became popular as mourning jewellery during the Victorian era when the trend was began by the Queen herself after the death of her husband, Prince Albert in 1861. Queen Victoria's grief was so great that she continued to wear only black jewellery, buttons and clothes until her death in 1901. 

To make this necklace, I threaded some gold coloured wire through the two buttons, closing them with loops on both ends. Then I added a geometric gold chain necklace and a small chain tassel to the base button. 

Whilst this necklace was made as a fun piece of jewellery, I can't help imagining where these antique buttons came from and who might have worn them. The untold stories of buttons like these ones continues to intrigue me. Like little windows into the past, they offer only partial glimpses of what might have been and leave me wondering...

Diamond Clusters

I bought these sparkly buttons last summer when I was visiting London. They came from a lovely little haberdashery shop called Kleins that I came across when I was wandering around Soho. The shop is just between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. (Here's a map). There also happens to be a Hummingbird Bakery just around the corner so I popped in afterwards for a Red Velvet cupcake (yum!) After my friend introduced me to this shop, I've been back a few times!

Kleins sells a variety of crafty sewing goodies like cotton, ribbon, fasteners and trimmings. Luckily for me, they also had a room out the back which stocked an impressive variety of buttons both old and new. While I was there, I picked up some moulded plastic buttons that were less than a pound each. I'd love to go back again and check out their antique buttons.

I love the shape of these buttons and the way in which the crystals radiate around the centre like spokes in a bicycle wheel. The buttons are actually made of moulded plastic and crystal but at a glance could almost be the real thing.

To make them into earrings, I glued some metal plates to the backs of the buttons. Because of their size, I wanted the earrings to hang a little lower so I made some longer earring hooks for them to hang from. The final earrings are very light and sparkle when you move - perfect for a night out!