Black and Gold Bows

I think these black buttons with little gold bows are as pretty as a button! The buttons are French antique ones that I found at Rollo in Kyoto and they're the perfect size and shape for earrings. The buttons actually separate into two parts - the black plastic button has a small hole in the centre so that the brass bow can slot neatly into it and sit flush on the surface. It's a really simple and elegant design! 

To turn these buttons into earrings, I threaded some gold coloured wire into the hooks on the back of the buttons and made some loops on both ends with a pair of round nosed pliers. Then I added the earring hooks and some sparkly bean-shaped gold chain. I love this chain because of the way it catches the light and sparkles. These earrings are super light so I often forget that I'm wearing them at all! 

Love - PMQ - Hong Kong

Last month, I visited Hong Kong for the first time. We were only there for three days but we had a wonderful time exploring the city and eating way too many dim sum! One of my favourite places was the PMQ centre. The complex is located at the junction of Aberdeen Street and Hollywood Road in central. Walking up the steep hill on Aberdeen street, its not until you arrive at the entrance that you notice the buildings, tucked away amongst the city high rises. It gives the feeling of entering an oasis of calm, away from the busyness of the city that surrounds it on all sides.

PMQ in Central, Hong Kong

The PMQ site has an unusual history. From 1889, it was a public school, the first in Hong Kong. After World Ward 2, the site was rebuilt to house the Police Marriage Quarters, hence the name PMQ. Then in 2010 it was reopened as a creative centre.

The complex is made up of two seven storey buildings that are joined by a garden/walkway in the centre. Its jam packed with a variety of design and fashion stores and studios from both local and international designers, as well as a few cafes and pop up stores.

One of my favourite shops that I visited at PMQ was Coney & Co. They sell unique handmade jewellery with a vintage feel. While I was there, I bought a delicate pair of flower earrings with coral coloured beads. I love their simple and elegant design and I've got quite a few compliments when I've worn them. They're very light and comfortable to wear and came in a cute mint-coloured felt jewellery bag. The store itself has a lovely cosy atmosphere. It felt a bit like being transported in time to a 19th century house with the jewellery displayed in antique cabinets. I definitely want to come back to this store!

Another shop I really loved was Blck Sheep Empire. I bought two pairs of super cute shoes there. Having a slight obsession with pandas (actually kind of a big obsession..), I had no choice but to get these panda shoes! They're really fun to wear and a little bit whimsical too. I also bought a red and mint-green pair with floral print. They're actually covered in upholstery fabric which I think works really well as a shoe covering. I like the little gold metallic detail on the heels too!

The shoes I bought from Blck Sheep Empire

While I was there, I had a nice time chatting to the designers and creators of the brand, Jen Webb and her partner Jac C. Jen is from Australia and studied graphic design like me. I think it takes a lot of skill, passion and determination to run your own business so I find it really inspiring to see young designers like Jen and Jac C getting their work out into the world. It makes wearing these shoes all the more special!

Lolly Earrings

Something sweet for you ears, these Lolly Earrings were a lot of fun to make! Both of the buttons I used in these earrings came from Rollo in Kobe. I chose the glossy blue buttons as a background because they look a lot like candy themselves. I've used this style of button before in some other jewellery pieces I've made (here and here). They're very versatile and their vibrant colours go well with different kinds of buttons.

I matched them with these cute red wrapped candies (I think they could be peppermints!) I love the way the colours both contrast and go together and the way the blue offsets the red. To make them into earrings, I had to cut the little loops off the backs of the lolly buttons first and then glue them onto the blue buttons. After that, I attached some metal plates for the earring hooks. 

A sweet shop in a little village in the Midlands, England 

These earrings make me think of kind of candy that you might find in an old fashioned sweet shop like strawberry creams, boiled sweets, aniseed balls and humbugs. I think there's something a little nostalgic about them!

Recently, I watched a really great short film by Martin Parr about Teddy Gray's - an old fashioned sweets factory and store that makes all of their lollies by hand - something that's pretty rare these days. There was something mesmerising about watching the workers create the candies by hand. Randomly, when I was making this post, I found a picture I took a few years earlier of a sweets shop in a small village in the Midlands in England. When I zoomed in on the candy jars, I noticed that they were actually from Teddy Gray's! Unfortunately I didn't buy any of their lollies while I was there but I'd love to go to their shop someday and try all of them!

Mice Earrings

When I saw these mice buttons at Rollo in Kyoto, I couldn't resist buying them immediately! I think they're super cute and full of character - more like toys than buttons really.

These buttons are actually antique ones, from France I think. They look like they've been made from a single piece of sheet metal that's been stamped into the shape of a mouse. Then the front and back halves have been folded together to form the 3D piece. The buttons are actually hollow and have little bells inside that jingle softly when you shake them. (There's a small slit at the base of the buttons so you can hear them!) The metal looks like it's been spray painted with grey enamel gloss paint with the small details like the eyes, nose, whiskers added later by hand.

To make these buttons into drop earrings, I added some dotted silver chain and earring hooks. When you wear them, the chain hangs down a like a tail. They're very light and fun to wear -  I only wish I had some cat ones too!!

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!

Moon and Stars

My first thought when I saw these pretty blue buttons was that they'd make a great pair of earrings! They remind me of the night sky filled with stars and a crescent moon. The buttons are antiques that I found at Ecrin in Kyoto. I'm not sure how they were made them but I love the design! They look to be moulded plastic with a circular window cut out that's been filled with a pearly blue background and a sprinkling of silver leaf.  I also love how each button is a little different from the other with more or less 'stars'. 

The backs of the buttons have neat little holes cut into them. I made them into earrings by threading some sterling silver wire through the holes and closing the ends with a little loop. After that, I added some sterling silver earring hooks and some sparkly chain that hangs down in slightly different lengths. These are definately the right earrings for star gazing!

Golden Week Earrings

Blue and gold antique buttons

This week was Golden Week here in Japan so it felt like the right time to make some colourful new earrings and enjoy the spring weather! Golden Week is just about the longest vacation period in Japan - there are four public holidays that fall within the same week so lots of people take some time off work, go travelling and enjoy the good weather.

I bought these blue and gold buttons at Rollo in Kobe last week. They're antiques from Holland and I love the turquoise/gold colour combination and the simple geometric design. The buttons are made of two parts that slot neatly together. The back piece is a gold plated metal disc with a hole cut out of the centre. The front part is made of moulded plastic and slots neatly into the hole in the metal piece. 

These earring were pretty easy and fun to make. All I needed was some gold plated brass wire which I threaded into the hooks at the back of the buttons. Then, using my pliers, I twisted the wire at the ends to secure them to the buttons. After that, I made some hand formed earring hooks to match. 

A Little Slice of Rainbow

Rainbow button

When I was a kid, my sister and I had a book called 'The Last Slice of Rainbow' by Joan Aiken. I really loved this book - not just for it's beautiful stories but also because the illustrations were amazing! I remember being fascinated by rainbows as a kid. I even used to try catching them on my bedroom wall using a crystal vase! But of course, no matter how hard I tried, I never could. Catching rainbows, like trying to hold onto a moment in time is impossible. And it's probably just as well because it's a rainbow's very illusiveness that makes them all the more beautiful.

I love these oversized buttons! They're so bright and cheerful! I bought them from j4 beads in Kyoto. The shop is just around the corner from Rollo and they stock a wide range of inexpensive accessory parts, beads and a few buttons too. 

These buttons are made from two layers of acrylic with a pice of metallic cloth sandwiched in-between. The base colour of the cloth is red with the rainbow colours woven into it so the buttons shine a bit like reflectors when they catch the light. Even though the buttons are new, I think the material gives them a bit of a retro feel.

To make the Rainbow Earrings, I chose a fan shape I liked and cut the button using a jewellers saw. Then I filed and sanded the edges using some wet and dry sandpaper. Once they were nice and smooth, I used a little Tamiya polishing compound to make them shine. Because the button holes were the perfect size for jump rings, I didn't need to glue on any parts to attach the earring hooks. I'd like to try cutting out more intricate shapes next time but the simple fan shape was good start.

These earrings are fun to wear and are a little reminder of the child in me who still tries to catch rainbows sometimes.

White Doves

These White Doves have become one of my favourite pairs of everyday earrings. The buttons are French antique from Rollo in Kobe. They're actually the same kind of buttons as I used in the Starlight Necklace only slightly smaller.

These buttons are great because they're so versatile. They make a good base to which I can add different parts to create a variety of accessories. The buttons come in a range of colours but so far, I've bought the hot pink, bright blue and lime green ones. I'd like to make a necklace using all three colours clustered together like pieces of candy.

For these earrings, I paired the pink buttons with some mother of pearl doves. The doves, also from Rollo, are new from Asia and are double sided so that I can have the birds facing each other. I like the symmetry and it looks to me like they're hanging out together! The doves look like they're been hand carved because they're all a slightly different shape. They even have tiny jet black eyes inset into the mother of pearl! I bought some rabbits and flowers too.

The earrings were very easy to make - I glued the doves to the buttons and then added some metal earring hook plates to the back. And voila!  These earrings are like little pops of colour that add some brightness to my day whenever I wear them.

Afternoon Tea Earrings

Dear 52 Buttoners,

Sorry for my absence these past three weeks. I've been on holiday in the UK and I wasn't able to post from over there. Sometimes technology gets the better of me! Anway, now that I'm back in Japan I have some exciting new button adventures that I hope to share with you in the coming weeks. Thanks so much for reading!

Meg  :)

These sweet little rose buttons are antiques from Holland. I found them at Rollo and I really love their simple design and feminine colour. The buttons are made of mother of pearl and have been finished in a shiny coat of lacquer. The rose pattern looks like it's been printed and transferred onto the button somehow. Do you know what technique they might have used to do this? I'd be really interested to know!

To make the earrings, I added some metal plates to the back of the buttons. Then I hung some Swarovski crystals beneath each button in two colours - fuchsia and rose. I think the colours of the crystals really complement the roses.

I bought the crystals and earring hooks from Parts Club in Osaka. They have a few shops in Japan but I usually visit the one on Shinsaibashi suji. They sell a pretty wide range of crystals in all shapes, sizes and colours which is good for me because lately, I've become a bit obsessed with these oval (rondelle) crystals. I like how they catch the light and sparkle when you move! Here's another piece I made using these crystals (without buttons this time!) They make a really soft tinkling noise when you wear them.

There's something a little romantic and old fashioned about roses so I think they make the perfect accessory for afternoon tea - especially if you're eating scones! Luckily, I had a few opportunities to do this while I was in England and Wales. One of my good friends in London baked us fresh scones with handmade jam and whipped cream - yum! I also really enjoyed trying Devonshire cream tea which includes a pot of black tea served with milk and a scone covered with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Not so healthy but oh so good! As a little side note, I think in a Cornish cream tea, the layer of jam is spread on first followed by the cream. I can't decide which way is better! What do you think?

I would also have liked to have had high tea but sadly I didn't get the chance to this time so here's a photo I took a couple of years ago of high tea at the Langham Hotel in London. It was as delicious as it looks!

What do you think the perfect accessory for high tea is?

Black & White Butterflies

These earrings combine two of my favourite things - buttons and pearls! I felt inspired to make them after seeing a great exhibition last year called  Pearls - Jewels from the Sea at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe. On display was an amazing variety of pearl jewellery and objects from all over the world - from tiaras worn by Queens to Marilyn Monroe's pearl strand necklace. It seems that pearls continue to be a timeless symbol of elegance.

The exhibition explored the history of pearls in various cultures spanning a period of about 2000 years. It examined the historical, cultural and scientific background of the pearl trade and later cultivation. Japan too, has a long association with pearls with Kobe being one of the key places where they are exported. I also learnt about a Japanese scientist and entrepreneur, Kokichi Mikimoto who pioneered a technique to culture perfectly spherical pearls in 1893. 

I love that natural pearls are created by a happy accident - when a tiny particle gets trapped inside an oyster and becomes the beginnings of a new pearl. It was suprising to learn that natural pearls are actually quite rare and that each and every one is unique.  Seeing the range of pearls on display at the exhibition (of pretty much any colour you could imagine) was really eye opening!  

Seeing the exhibition really got me thinking about using more pearls in the jewellery I make. Quite often, by using a pearl, you can add another layer to a piece of jewellery. So when I saw theses little butterfly buttons on a recent trip to Rollo,  I thought they'd look good paired with some pearls! I think they're perfect size for everyday drop earrings and even though they're small, they stand out when you wear them. Sometimes (at least when it comes to earrings) simple is best!

The buttons are new from Asia and are made of plastic in three layers - white, black and white. I think the design has been created by either cutting or etching away the butterfly shape from the top white layer so that the black shows through. I like how the design of the button is both simple and detailed. The contrasting black and white creates a stamp like effect.  The pearls were originally from a bracelet that I took apart so are living a new life now as earrings!

To make the earrings, I glued two metals plates to the back of each button so that I could hang the earring hooks from one side and pearls from the other. I'd like to try making another pair with black pearls next time!

What kind of pearls do you like?

Broccoli Trees

I found these sweet little buttons on a trip to Toyko last year. The shop I bought them from & Stripe (which I'll be posting about very soon) is in a quiet little back street in Nakameguro, one of my favourite areas in Tokyo. 

 Image courtesy of attackofhtecute.com

Image courtesy of attackofhtecute.com

These little tree buttons remind me so much of broccoli florets, hence the name broccoli trees! I also happen to LOVE broccoli - my all time favourite vegetable - at least as much as this hamster does!!!

These buttons came in many bright colours but I chose the leaf green and lime green ones. To make them into earrings, I removed the loops at the back of the buttons and sanded down the surface before attaching some metal plates to hang the earring hooks from. They're very light and fun to wear. So now I can eat my broccoli and wear it too!

Happy Cats!!!

I found these colourful cat buttons at Rollo. They looked so happy and cheerful that I had to buy them! The buttons are antique and are made of plastic coated in paint with a matte finish. The black details are etched into the buttons. I like the way this makes them stand out from the colour. The simple design reminds me of cartoon cats!

So far, I've made the red ones into a pair of earrings but I think they might make a cute ring or a pair of cufflinks. What do you think?

The earrings were very easy to make. First, I cut off the plastic loops on the back of the buttons and sanded them down. After that, I glued on some small metal plates with rings at the top to hang the earring hooks from.

I get lots of comments whenever I wear these earrings so they always manage to brighten up my day! After all, who doesn't love a happy cat?! Now if only I could find some Grumpy Cat buttons too!...

 

Silver Ferns

Silver fern earrings

I love mixing it up when it comes to the materials I use in my jewellery pieces. I found these French antique cream buttons with inset rhinestones at Rollo on one of my visits there. I love the design of these buttons - so simple and eye-catching. But it took me a while to decide what I wanted to make with them! It was only when I was looking through some fabric pieces I had at home, that I saw how good the buttons looked with these silver ferns.

I was suprised to find that the ferns are actually 24ct gold thread mixed with white. I bought them at Kawachi Artists' Materials in Osaka. The shop is on the 8th floor of the Tokyu Hands building in Shinsaibashi. I love both of these shops because you can find almost any arty or crafty thing you might need there!

I think the fabric pieces are usually used as appliqués on clothing but I thought they'd work well in jewellery pieces because they're so light and delicate. Lately, when I've been shopping in Japan, I've noticed some accessories (usually necklaces) with elements of fabric and lace worked into them so I though I'd try it for myself.

I connected the buttons with the ferns by wrapping some fine artist's wire around the ends to make loops for the jump rings. When you wear the earrings, the ferns look a little like wings that flutter and catch the light as you move. So there's something old and something new in these earrings. I guess I'll have to keep searching for something borrowed and blue!

Do you own any jewellery with a fabric element?

Mushroom Buttons (button mushrooms!)

I found these mushroom buttons at my favorite button shop Rollo in Kyoto. I think there’s something a little magical about them! Their silhouette design reminds me of the black and white illustrations you find in some fairy story books.

The buttons are French antique, made of mother of pearl with a layer of red enamel applied to the surface. The cut out design could have been made by etching away parts of the enamel to reveal the shell below. I like that the details on the buttons vary just a little so that each and every one is unique. It makes me wonder if someone carved them by hand.

The buttons came in 3 colours (red, green and blue). I made these red ones into a pair of drop earrings by attaching some bails to the back and hanging them from some of my own handmade sterling silver ear hooks. They feel really light and lovely to wear!

Have you ever seen any buttons like these before?