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!

[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.

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!

[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.

Rollo - Kobe

Some of the buttons and goodies I bought from Rollo in Kobe

Rollo in Kobe

When I get the chance, I really love going on a day trip to Kobe. It takes about an hour and a half to get there by train from Nara (on the Kintetsu line) but you can stay on the same train for the whole journey. Kobe is a really beautiful city that sometimes gets overlooked by the more famous Kyoto and Osaka. It's actually a port town surrounded by the sea on one side and mountains on the other. The town centre, near Sannomiya Station is a busy place full of shops and department stores. There are some really long glass covered shopping arcades in this area so you could easily spend the entire day just shopping if you wanted to. I think the city has a relaxed vibe with a bit of an international feel to it too. 

There also happens to be a Rollo store in Kobe which is a big plus for me! The store is a little bit bigger than the one in Kyoto but they sell a similar range of antique and new buttons as well as jewellery parts and accessories. The shop is about a 10 minute walk from Sannomiya Station and is in one of the quieter backstreets. They have a giant button hanging outside the store! Here's a photo and a map.

Just around the corner from Rollo is RolloStock, a store that specialises in fabric, ribbon and all sorts of textile goodies. There's also some interesting shops and boutiques nearby selling clothes, accessories and home wares so it's quite fun to explore the area around the shop too. Here's a map showing where the stores are in relation to each other.

 

Brocantetit. Just around the corner from Rollo. 

The last time I was in Kobe, I also visited one of Rollo's related stores called Brocantetit. It's a little different in style to Rollo selling a variety of antique and vintage goods for the home as well as paper goods, some buttons and sewing items. I found these gorgeous moving type letters there. In the past, they would have been used in a printing press. (You can still see some ink stuck the W!) They're actually quite heavy to hold because they're made of steel. I'd love to make them into some kind of jewellery in the future so I'll have to put my thinking cap on! I also bought these small metal buttons with stamped lace detail. I think they'd make a cute pair of earrings or cuff links. What do you think?

For me, no trip to Kobe is complete without visiting one of the city's many cake shops! I really like the patisserie a la campagne. They have two stores around the corner from each other (here and here). We usually have to line up for a table, but the cake is definitely worth the wait!!!

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?

& Stripe

The buttons I bought

 & Stripe

Living in Nara, I don't get many chances to go to Tokyo. But the last time I did, I was lucky enough to find this beautiful button shop! & Stripe is in Nakameguro, just a short train ride away from the centre of the city. It's one of my favourite areas in Tokyo, with it's winding streets that are dotted with quirky little shops and boutiques. They're definitely worth a look if you like handmade or vintage goods. I love wandering around here and discovering little things that make me smile like the cute wrought iron birds you can see on the bridges that span the river. The first time I went shopping here back in 2007, I bought my very first pair of bird earrings! It marked the beginning of what has become a happy obsession of mine!

& Stripe is in a lovely quiet street that runs along the river. You could easily spend an hour or so browsing among the thousands of buttons they have on display. There's also a few cafes nearby so if you're shopping with someone who's not a button enthusiast, they can go and get a coffee while you shop! Stacked in glass jars like an old fashioned sweet shop, the buttons look a lot like lollies so visiting this store made me feel a little like a kid in a candy shop! They also stock a variety of vintage and new buttons as well as jewellery making parts. So next time I'm in Tokyo, I definitely want to visit & Stripe again!

Do you know any crafty jewellery / button shops in Tokyo? I'd love to hear from you!

Wrought iron birds on a bridge in Nakameguro

Cute flower boxes and a pinwheel that caught my eye

 

Sakura and ginko leaf manhole cover

 

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!

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