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! 

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!!

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.

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!

[Shop] Ecrin - Kyoto

Ecrin in Kyoto

I found Ecrin by chance one day when we were walking around Kyoto. The shop is just around the road from one of our favourite restaurants, a little French place called Le Bouchon. We go there sometimes for lunch or dinner. It's has a really cute and cosy interior and it feels like a little piece of Paris in Kyoto.

Ecrin is a truly amazing shop! Its just a few minutes walk from Kyoto Shiyakushomae subway station. It stocks a huge range of antique buttons from all over Europe. The buttons are neatly stacked in boxes from floor to ceiling so you could easily spend a hour or so checking out the buttons! I spoke briefly with the shop owner who told me that he takes trips to various parts of Europe to source the buttons directly. (Unfortunately, my Japanese isn't great so I could only understand some of what he told me - must study harder!!!)

Some of the buttons and parts I bought

I picked up some unusual antique buttons while I was there. My favourite piece is a dragonfly button (or 'tonbo'  トンボ in Japanese). The button is made of glass that's been treated on the front with a kind of iridescent paint or enamel. It shines gold/green/blue depending on which way you look at it. It's quite unusual but the finish makes it look like a real dragonfly! I haven't decided what kind of jewellery it'll become - maybe a necklace or a brooch.

As well as selling a wide range of buttons in all shapes and sizes, the shop also stocks lace braids and other accessory parts like rings. I found some cute little plastic buttons with crystals inset in them. I also picked up some silver sequins that could work in another button piece and a pair of pretty blue plastic buttons with silver leaf detail that I think look a bit like moons and stars.

This shop is a little special in that they also have some really exquisite antique glass and crystal pieces like belt buckles. They were so shiny and sparkly that I wanted to buy them all! I guess I'll just have to visit again soon!

Here's a link to their Ecrin's blog (in Japanese) and a map showing where the shop is.

Feather Button Brooch

Buttons and feathers go together!

I've been wanting to make some jewellery with feathers for a while! I bought these feathers a long time ago so its good to finally use them in a piece. I'm not quite sure why but I think buttons and feathers go together - maybe its because buttons are hard whilst weathers are soft and floaty. Either way, I love the way in which feathers are delicate and strong at the same time. Its amazing that something as fragile as a feather can allow a bird to fly.

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In the Feather Button Brooch, I wanted to show the beautiful lines and patterns in the feathers. I chose these two antique buttons to match the burgundy and olive green feathers. The pearly green button came from a lovely little button shop in Kyoto called Ecrin. (I'll be posting about this shop very soon!) The smaller purple button came from the Rollo store in Kyoto. I like the wispy, feather like detail on the top. I think it might have been made by using some kind of marbling technique when the button was being formed.

I made the brooch by cutting some brass tubing and sliding it through the hook at the back of the button and then gluing it in place. After that, I attached a gold brooch back that I bought from Tokyu Hands, one of my favourite crafty shops in Japan. Then I glued the purple button to the front if the piece. I'm trying out a new glue at the moment called Super XG Gold. I've had a bit of trouble finding a glue that bonds plastic and metal parts together permanently so I'm still testing this one out! The last thing I did was thread the two feathers through the tubing until I had a shape I was happy with. The finished brooch is very light to wear and a little bit whimsical!

How about you? Do you own any feathery jewellery?

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.

Rollo - Kyoto

 Buttons!!!!!!!

Buttons!!!!!!!

Rollo has to be one of my favourite button shops of all time! They have a couple of stores in Japan - one in Kyoto and the other in Kobe. I've been to both and always come away with something unique! They stock an ever-changing range of buttons both old and new, as well as some cute accessory parts that I use in my jewellery making.

I love going to Kyoto to shop at Rollo. It's such a fun place to spend a hour or two! The shop is about a 10 minute walk from Sanjo railway station (on the Keihan line). Inside, wooden drawers line the shelves displaying buttons of all shapes, styles and colours. I like being able to pick up each button to check it's size, feel and detail. The antique buttons are all a little different from each other so its great to be able to choose exactly which ones you want to buy.

Rollo is on the second floor

The antique buttons mostly come from France and Holland. The price ranges from less than 100 yen each ($1) for the newer buttons up to about 1000 yen ($10) for the rarest antique buttons. I love buying antique ones because they're unique and have their own history. I like to imagine who might have worn a button in the past and where it's been! 

If you get the chance, I'd recommend walking around the backstreets near the shop. It's very close to the city but at the same time feels a little removed from the hustle and bustle. Time seems to pass at it's own pace here. To me, the area has a feel of old Japan to it with it's narrow streets. There are some traditional houses mixed in with newer ones with their old fashioned roof tiles and sliding wooden doors. Walking around, you can sometimes catch a glimpse inside peoples' gardens - to see some stepping stones surrounded by moss or a carefully manicured cyprus pine hanging over a garden wall. There's some lovely little shops waiting for you to discover by chance as you wander around.

Website and Map 

 

I love the stamps on the bag