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!

[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! 

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!!

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...

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!