In the Darkness

Lisa and me at her exhibition

Last week, I was lucky enough to see the latest exhibition of the very talented contemporary jeweller Liisa Hishimoto. She was at the gallery in Osaka when I visited so I had a chance to talk to her about her work. 

"In the Darkness" is a series of wearable sculptural pieces that I think look as lovely when worn on the body as they do in the exhibition. Inspired by equipment found in children's playgrounds, her works are both playful and a little somber.

Liisa used a variety of materials such as silver, brass and copper to create her intricately soldered pieces. Many of them are finished in a soft blue-grey acrylic paint. I particularly love this necklace/brooch (left) - you can wear it both ways!!! - as well as these playful earrings (right) which rock back and forth when you touch them. Not just fun to wear but fun to play with!

There is something a little magical and mysterious about the space Liisa creates between her work and the viewer. I like the way that her pieces are presented - on coffee stained boxes (also hand made by Liisa). Delicate line drawings peak out from the edges of the boxes along with snippets of quotes like echoes or memories from childhood. 

La Galerie

The exhibition is currently being held at La Galerie [Glan Fabrique] in Osaka. The building is a traditional Japanese house that's been converted into a gallery and cafe. Inside, exposed wooden beams give the space a slightly dark and cosy atmosphere that suits the theme of the exhibition.

I love the attention to detail that Liisa shows in the display of her work so that everything comes together to complement the jewellery - from the graphics to the display plinths and the delicate metal frames she makes for her pieces to rest on. When displayed like this, the jewellery casts beautiful shadows that look like line drawings come to life.

Liisa opens her studio space in Osaka once a month so I'd really recommend a visit if you want to see more of her work. (This was where I first met her). You can find out more information on her websiteblog or Facebook page.

For her next series, Liisa said she's planning to explore some different techniques and ideas - a bit of a departure from her current work. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!

The Blue Key

Square link details on the silver chain

When I was a kid, I learnt to play the piano. I wasn't a very good student because I didn't practice enough. But I did like to open the piano lid sometimes to look inside. I thought there was something really beautiful about the way the keys were nestled next to each other. It seemed kind of magical that a bunch of keys and wires, held together at just the right tension, could create all those different notes and sounds.

So I've called this necklace The Blue Key because it reminds me of piano keys sitting side by side, waiting to be played. I love the shape and 3D chunkiness of the button. It also feels lovely to hold! 

I think the button might be made of some kind of plastic like melamine. It looks like it could have been carved by hand and then finished with a glossy cerulean blue paint. I also love the small white details left on the edges of the button because they really enhance it's geometric shape.

The button is French antique from Rollo and I think it's one of those perfect pieces that doesn't need anything added or taken away to make it into jewellery. The pendant was very easy to make. I simply I glued a metal plate onto the back of the button so that it would hang diagonally. Then, I added some silver squares along the length of the silver chain so that when you wear the necklace, they catch the light and reflect the shape of the button.

I think this button would also make a lovely ring too! What do you think?

Jelly Ring

This button really reminds me of jelly! I found it at Rollo and was immediately drawn to it's shape, colour and lightness. The button is acrylic with a soft pink colour. It has flecks of gold painted on the back that catch the light and make it glow!

Recently, I've been watching Downton Abbey and I think this jelly button looks a little like something they might have served for dessert! In Edwardian times, jelly was a dish for special occasions, sometimes made to be the centrepiece of the table. Jellies were made in a variety of bright colours and moulded into intricate forms using copper moulds. After I made this ring, I started looking at some pictures of the antique moulds used to make these kind of jellies. The design and shape of the moulds are beautiful and quite detailed.

However special jelly was then, today it's kind of an ordinary dessert. But most of all, it reminds me of being a kid - a birthday party treat we used to eat with ice cream! I also remember it being just about the only good thing about getting sick - being allowed to each a lot of jelly as you got better again!

Sadly this ring doesn't wobble like the real thing but its a lot of fun to wear all the same! I made it by saw piercing a brass disc and then gluing it to the base of the button. After that, I glued the ring onto the brass disc. I think this button works really well as a ring because you can enjoy looking at it from different angles. 

Do you remember making jelly as a kid? If you're an Aussie like me, it was probably Aeroplane Jelly! What was your favourite flavour?

Happy Cats!!!

I found these colourful cat buttons at Rollo. They looked so happy and cheerful that I had to buy them! The buttons are antique and are made of plastic coated in paint with a matte finish. The black details are etched into the buttons. I like the way this makes them stand out from the colour. The simple design reminds me of cartoon cats!

So far, I've made the red ones into a pair of earrings but I think they might make a cute ring or a pair of cufflinks. What do you think?

The earrings were very easy to make. First, I cut off the plastic loops on the back of the buttons and sanded them down. After that, I glued on some small metal plates with rings at the top to hang the earring hooks from.

I get lots of comments whenever I wear these earrings so they always manage to brighten up my day! After all, who doesn't love a happy cat?! Now if only I could find some Grumpy Cat buttons too!...

 

Silver Ferns

Silver fern earrings

I love mixing it up when it comes to the materials I use in my jewellery pieces. I found these French antique cream buttons with inset rhinestones at Rollo on one of my visits there. I love the design of these buttons - so simple and eye-catching. But it took me a while to decide what I wanted to make with them! It was only when I was looking through some fabric pieces I had at home, that I saw how good the buttons looked with these silver ferns.

I was suprised to find that the ferns are actually 24ct gold thread mixed with white. I bought them at Kawachi Artists' Materials in Osaka. The shop is on the 8th floor of the Tokyu Hands building in Shinsaibashi. I love both of these shops because you can find almost any arty or crafty thing you might need there!

I think the fabric pieces are usually used as appliqués on clothing but I thought they'd work well in jewellery pieces because they're so light and delicate. Lately, when I've been shopping in Japan, I've noticed some accessories (usually necklaces) with elements of fabric and lace worked into them so I though I'd try it for myself.

I connected the buttons with the ferns by wrapping some fine artist's wire around the ends to make loops for the jump rings. When you wear the earrings, the ferns look a little like wings that flutter and catch the light as you move. So there's something old and something new in these earrings. I guess I'll have to keep searching for something borrowed and blue!

Do you own any jewellery with a fabric element?

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

Black and Gold Rose

The necklace

The two buttons that make up this pendant fit together so well, it's almost like they were made for each other! They're both French antique but despite their difference in style, they really complement each other. The base, gold button is acrylic with (what looks like) a piece of metallic fabric pressed inside. This gives the button a subtle weave and shine that catches the light beautifully. The black and gold rose button is also acrylic with a matte black finish. The gold details looks like some foil has been applied to the surface by hand as they're all a little different. Their shininess contrasts nicely with the matte black of the button.

In order to stack the buttons on top of each other, I filed away the rounded base of the flower until it was flat and then glued them together. The rose rests neatly in a small depression in the gold button. After that, I added a tear shaped black bead and some cream coloured pearls to the pendant. I finished the piece by hanging it from a double strand of sparkly gold chain.

Close up of the rose buttons

I really like the possibilities of combining different buttons to make an entirely unique piece! Sometimes, like this pendant, the buttons really complement each other. At other times, their differences brings about something completely unexpected.

Mushroom Buttons (button mushrooms!)

I found these mushroom buttons at my favorite button shop Rollo in Kyoto. I think there’s something a little magical about them! Their silhouette design reminds me of the black and white illustrations you find in some fairy story books.

The buttons are French antique, made of mother of pearl with a layer of red enamel applied to the surface. The cut out design could have been made by etching away parts of the enamel to reveal the shell below. I like that the details on the buttons vary just a little so that each and every one is unique. It makes me wonder if someone carved them by hand.

The buttons came in 3 colours (red, green and blue). I made these red ones into a pair of drop earrings by attaching some bails to the back and hanging them from some of my own handmade sterling silver ear hooks. They feel really light and lovely to wear!

Have you ever seen any buttons like these before? 

52 Buttons

Hi! I’m Meg and welcome to 52 Buttons. This blog is about my love of buttons of all shapes and sizes and the jewellery pieces they inspire me to make.

 

Since moving to Japan about three years ago, I started collecting buttons on my travels. I like that buttons can be both functional and decorative. And as they're made for wearing, buttons make the perfect pieces of jewellery!

 

Over the next year, I hope to share with you my handmade button jewellery and the unique stories these buttons have to tell.