Vintage Button Collection

Adding to My Vintage Button Collection

On Saturday afternoon, I found myself digging through bins in the basement of my favorite vintage shop, and I was extremely lucky to find enough pretty buttons to form a decent addition to my modest vintage button collection. Ever since I started molding antique buttons to create silver jewelry charms, I have been looking at them in a whole new light. Some of these buttons below are perfect for molds and silver clay and others will be incorporated into new jewelry pieces.

Vintage Button Collection

Vintage Button Collection

Vintage Button Collection

Vintage Button Collection

Vintage Button Collection

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Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

Vintage Buttons: My Latest Jewelry Making Obsession

Last summer, I stumbled upon some really unique vintage buttons in the basement of one of my favorite East Village shops and incorporated many of them into a button necklace and bracelet, both which have since found good homes. Since then, I’ve collected several more vintage and antique buttons with the idea of making more of these one-of-a-kind pieces, but I didn’t want to let go of my collection. One day, as I was browsing a jewelry making supply site, I discovered molds for precious metal clay pre-made from antique buttons. I ordered a few and had fun making pieces out of them, and then the epiphany hit that I could make my own molds out of my button collection so I could recreate them over and over again in fine silver.

Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

I ordered the mold making material from Cool Tools. It comes in two parts – the blue and white – and it feels kind of like Silly Putty. You mix together equal parts of both, which activates the material, and then form it over anything with a texture. In five minutes you have a flexible mold that you could use to make pieces out of any kind of clay. I love that the molds are totally non-stick, so I didn’t have to worry about applying any kind of oil to them before using them with the precious metal clay.

Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

I did learn a few things while using this stuff. I roll each part into a ball before combining them together so I can gauge if they’re roughly the same size. I didn’t have any problems with my molds not setting, so this method works for me. When I made my first molds, I formed the material around the buttons which resulted in really deep molds, meaning I needed to use more clay in each one. The second time I made molds, I flattened the material slightly and then pressed the button into it. This worked out much much better and resulted in smooth uniform pieces.

Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

After the buttons are fired in the kiln, which takes about two hours, they come out with a matte white finish that needs to be removed with a brass bristle brush. Then I almost always polish my silver pieces right away in the tumbler, so they’ll be clean and pretty and ready for using in a finished piece.

Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

I love how the molds capture all of the tiny little details in these buttons, which are recreated perfectly in the fine silver.

Precious Metal Clay Vintage Button Jewelry

I’ve been making molds from other things too, particularly vintage jewelry components that are one-of-a-kind and am now on the lookout for other little things I can turn into silver jewelry. The necklace in the last set of photos is available in my shop as is another necklace made from one of the buttons in my collection. Many more are coming soon! If you have an old button that you’d like to see turned into a necklace or earrings, I would be happy to work with you on a custom design.

Silver Crest Pendant Necklace Gemstone Spinel

New Silver Pendant Necklaces & Earrings

When we moved into our new house last March and I set up my basement jewelry studio, I went on an unofficial hiatus from creating with precious metal clay. I’m not sure why, but after a few months, it turned into one of those breaks, similar to when I’ve stopped exercising, that I couldn’t seem to overcome.

Silver Crest Pendant Necklace Gemstone Spinel

Available for purchase in my Shop

I think the cost of the materials has a large role in my reluctance to go all out and make a bunch of pieces. What if they don’t turn out well? What if no one likes them? A few weeks ago, I started to build up the idea of playing with silver clay again, telling myself that there was no point in hoarding unused clay and that I had a perfectly good kiln sitting there just begging to be used. (I had reached this same point earlier in the Spring with my ever growing stash of vintage beads.)

Silver Bird Pendant Necklace Gray Lace Agate

Available for purchase in my Shop

I love working with the precious metal clay because it lets me create one-of-a-kind pendants, charms, clasps – just about anything really – without the complications of learning to cast silver. You can press just about anything with a clean smooth texture into the clay to create an embossed effect. I mold the clay into shapes, let it dry, fire it and then polish.

E0111_02 Labradorite Sterling Paisley Charm Earrings Oxidized

Available for purchase in my Shop

I’m really happy with how this first batch of new designs turned out. Now that I’ve started playing with clay again, it’s going to be difficult to stop. I have so many ideas churning and can’t wait to turn them all into little wearable works of art.

E0113_03 Turquoise Sterling Silver Teardrop Earrings

Available for purchase in my Shop

If you’re a crafter, do you struggle with not wanting to “waste” or use up your favorite materials, especially if they’re irreplaceable? How do you get past it so that you can keep creating?

Retro Vintage Button Necklace

Retro Button Necklace

Last week-end, I wrote about how I found this awesome stash of vintage buttons at one of my favorite shops. The buttons I chose fell into two distinct groups. The first group -delicate, antique and feminine in shades of gray and white – became a charm style bracelet.

Retro Vintage Button Necklace

The second group were more earthy, retro, and a little rustic in warm Fall colors like chestnut brown, ivory, pale beige, olive, jade, and teal. They definitely had a little bit of a seventies feel to them. I particularly liked how they had a great range of materials, textures and patterns, and I thought they would look great as the focal point of a longer necklace. There are twelve buttons total, with most of them being celluloid. There is one large horn button and two glass.

Retro Vintage Button Necklace

I wrapped each of the buttons from the back in jewelry grade bronze wire (lead and nickel free) that I antiqued myself using liver of sulfur so it would coordinate with the antiqued brass chain. Once I had wrapped all of the buttons, I played with the arrangement until I found one that was pleasing. The buttons range in size from about .75″ to 1.5″ in diameter and color, so I needed to create balance in the design.

When I was happy with the layout, I attached them to a textured antiqued brass cable chain. This chain is really high quality and one of my favorites to use. For variety, I used a smaller scale chain for the upper portion of the necklace and added one of my favorite solid brass lobster clasps and a little extender chain for an extra two inches of length, if needed. I always like when my necklaces has a little bit of adjustability to account for the different necklines of my tops.

Retro-Vintage-Button-Necklace-N0003_10

I really love the eclectic feel of the necklace and particularly the color palette. It’s a completely unique one-of-a-kind design, and it’s available for sale in my Etsy shop.

My Booth

A Saturday Evening Show & New Vintage Earrings

I participated in a local event over the week-end – kind of a small craft show combined with an outdoor concert. The setup was really nice, the weather was perfect, and the music was entertaining. I met some really great people, and sold one of my most favorite necklaces to a good home. Keegan was generous enough to give up his Saturday night to help me out, so I even had some great company. There are two more weeks left of Ankeny Unplugged, so if you’re local, it’s a great, inexpensive, family friendly way to spend a summer evening.

My Boothmy table

New Vintage Earrings

vintage glass and lucite earrings (not yet listed)

New Vintage Earrings

vintage brass leaf earrings (not yet listed)

New Vintage Earrings

vintage charm and glass earrings (not yet listed)

The ring box

flower rings

Necklaces

sterling and stone necklaces (all three are sold)

Keegan with his new coozie

Keegan with his new coozie (I got one too)

I’ll be adding the new earring styles to the shop this week along with many more. Email me (jillianATjfrancesdesign.com) if you’d like me to reserve a pair for you!