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.

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 - 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

 

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