Last year I made a batch of safety pin drop earrings using gold safety pins with green and bronze rocaille beads. These earrings were popular with customers, so I’ve made some more, in several new colour schemes: red, peacock blue, and multicoloured.
There are some more felt bead necklaces in bright colours, and also four of my sister‘s felted bangles.
That’s my whole stock of leftover felt beads made into jewellery now – I made a total of fourteen new necklaces using up all the odds and ends.
At the moment I’m doing some using-up-of-leftover-materials from previous projects (as with my upcycled bead bracelets) and next in the queue was my box of felt beads. Previously I’ve made big batches of identical necklaces, but with the odd ones left over, over the past couple of days, I’ve made the first few of some one-of-a-kind felt necklaces. There are some more lying in a big fuzzy pile on my workbench waiting to have their clasps put on, but these three are finished and available to buy at Unexpected Boutique’s felt necklaces page.
I’ve also made a new button necklace in autumn colours, to replace the previous new one which sold almost immediately:
This button necklace can be purchased here.
For ages now I’ve had a stash of beads that have been waiting to be made into jewellery. However, out of the whole box, there’s probably only about ten percent that were bought by me as beads. That ten percent are leftovers from other projects; the rest of them are there because, over the years, some beaded necklace or other has broken. Some of these were from jewellery that I owned myself, and others came from other people’s broken jewellery clearouts, and were given to me because people thought I was the sort of person who cold make use of them. The thing is, I mostly haven’t, because I’ve mostly been making things out of buttons rather than beads. I never really got into the whole “bead” thing. But a few weeks ago, I thought: they’ve been sitting there for years. (And I really mean years – I’ve had some of them for getting on fifteen years now.) They are not achieving anything at all by sitting there in a box. So I sat down and made a small fraction of my bead collection into bracelets.
I’m fussy about bracelets – or, specifically, bracelet fastenings. Obviously, as a person who uses their hands a lot, I need a bracelet to do two things: not get in the way too much, and not fall off. Otherwise I just don’t wear them. But I equally despise the kind of bracelet fastening that always requires another person to fasten it for the wearer. That’s just annoying. So this limits me to the alarmingly small number of secure clip fastenings that are easy to do up and take off with one hand, or elastic bracelets. Or so I thought. All this time I’ve been ignoring one really obvious solution to the bracelet problem: memory wire.
Memory wire is basically a hard steel spring, and comes in a big coil that looks like a slinky toy. To make into a bracelet, you cut off a section of one or two coils, and basically just bead it up however you like. When you put on a memory wire bracelet, it does two things – stretches and bends briefly so you can get your wrist in, before returning to its previous shape when on your wrist. As well as this, it gently moulds around whatever size wrist it finds itself around, so will fit snugly on a variety of wrist sizes larger than its resting size (or will be like a round bangle on smaller wrists).
I have been making button stud earrings with sterling silver stud mounts for years now. Recently I found a good quality source of the same size mounts in surgical steel, which some people find works better for sensitive ears. Now for earrings within my my main range of button stud earrings, in both 9mm and 6mm sizes, you can pick which metal you prefer.
Visit my button stud earrings page here.
My newest limited edition button necklaces are all made with woven cord, and sterling silver findings. For these ones I’ve made more than one in each design, so they’re identical, limited edition runs of just five pieces each. I had several cards of identical vintage buttons, usually with around five buttons, so once I’d collected enough of these, it was just a case of putting the design together and then doing the weaving and knotting part, over and over until they were all safely knotted together (I normally do this fairly quickly in case the buttons spill everywhere).
You can see these for sale on buttonjewellery.co.uk.
champagne and rose button necklace, £25
When people talk about “vintage” or “heritage” colours – what do they mean? I think it’s usually to do with a muted, soft tone to the colours, which might be because a once-bright colour faded with age, or because the pigments used in whatever times qualify as “vintage” may not have been as bold as some used today.
Thus I make a distinction between jewellery made with “vintage buttons” – anything that comes to me secondhand, and appears to be ten years old or more (sometimes a lot more), I usually class in this category – and “vintage colours”, which might be new buttons, just with a softer tone.
Then again, some buttons may be both at once. And some of my jewellery might be made with a mixture of differently-aged buttons. If things look good together, I don’t usually try to segregate them by age. So in my latest button earring collection, you’ll find new buttons alongside older ones, but the colours are themed according to a vintage palette.
Most recently I’ve been making my button necklaces using various cords and weaving or stitching techniques. The first time I ever saw someone wearing a necklace made with buttons (which inspired me to make one for my friend’s birthday, then for myself, and then – well, the rest of this story is here, so I won’t repeat it right now) it was actually quite unlike the first button necklaces I made. It was made with small buttons, all the same size, woven together with cord. But when I sat down to make button necklaces, my first button necklace design used wire, and all kinds of different sized buttons, like this pink button necklace here:
I haven’t stopped making necklaces in this style (you can see some of my current colour schemes in my necklace section here) but I have been experimenting with different ways to join buttons together to make jewellery – I’ve made button charm necklaces and bracelets using lots of buttons attached to chains (which are more jangly); long-length button necklaces which are reversible, so that as they move and flip over the necklace still looks good; tapered necklaces made with thick cord knotted strongly so that the buttons don’t turn over; and also some slim, lightweight button necklaces a bit like the one I first saw someone wearing.
The buttons in these necklaces are tiny and light, so they don’t need such a thick cord to keep them in place and stop them turning over. They are woven to stay in a straight line, using a strong but fairly thin nylon cord. They are made to rest gently on or just below the collarbone, and they’re especially good for people of more of a petite build. I’ve sometimes had requests in my bespoke button jewellery service for necklaces that are made with smaller buttons, because smaller people in chunky jewellery report sometimes feeling as though the necklace is wearing them, rather than the reverse. So now I’ve included these slimmer necklaces in my “regular” section. So far I only have a few colour schemes ready-made, but if you’d like a necklace like these in any other colours, I can make them with different coloured buttons as a bespoke order. These ones use silver-plated findings, but if sterling silver is more your things, that’s fine too – it just costs a little extra.
My new triangular necklaces are like little strings of wooden bunting flags in miniature. I had the idea for these when I was half asleep, just waking up, in that few seconds in between dreaming and awake. When I actually did wake up, I initially thought the “bunting necklaces” idea was another of those weird mad subconscious things that make no sense but seem like a really sensible idea at the time (like when a friend of mine leapt out of bed one morning, rolled up her duvet and was about to cut all her hair off when she realised she’d just had a dream that she had lend the duvet and her hair to her housemate who was apparently going to use them both to play in a concert).
But then I had a cup of tea and thought about it a bit more and decided that actually bunting necklaces would be quite a good idea. They’re little geometric tiles, and each one is different (a bit like bunting). I’ve made five different designs – one with old maps of England, one with an old music theory book, one with Japanese washi paper, and two different ones using my handpainted tile designs — one in green and one in purple.
You can view the whole collection on my necklaces page here.