How to Design and Make Handmade Button Jewelry: Tips and Ideas
When I got serious about my jewelry making skills and started experimenting with buttons for some of my earliest designs, I never imagined that I would grow to love working with them so much. Buttons are a fun, inexpensive craft medium that can be used for any number of different jewelry projects including bracelets, necklaces and pendants, earrings, pins, rings, and hair pins. During my jewelry making endeavors, I have learned a number of tips and tricks for working with buttons. Whether you are simply interested in making a few pieces for yourself or to give as gifts or you are planning to make large quantities of items to sell, there is something in this article for everyone. Happy jewelry making!
- Vintage Button Guide - Ways to Identify Antique Buttons
This vintage button guide contains valuable information about types of vintage buttons including how to test them to determine their materials. Also, learn how to safely clean and care for vintage and antique buttons.
Type of Buttons
One of the first decisions that you have to make when you start a piece of jewelry is the type of buttons you would like to use. Think about what styles and materials will fit with the project at hand. Do you want to use new buttons, vintage buttons, or a combination of the two? Do you want to use plastic buttons or do you want to explore other materials? Plastic is readily available, but you can also find buttons made out of metal, wood, and more. If you're interested in working extensively with vintage buttons, it is worth taking the time to learn about the different varieties out there. Different buttons work well for different pieces. As you become more comfortable with jewelry making, many of these decisions will come more naturally.
Antique and Vintage Clothing Buttons
Select Buttons With Care
It is important to make sure that all of your buttons are in good condition. Even new buttons should be inspected. Just as there are often a few bad seed beads in a batch that should be discarded, they may be a few buttons in a bulk bag that are not in top condition. It is perfectly fine to select vintage buttons that have some wear and tear as long as they do not negatively affect the overall quality of the piece. For example, if you are using shank buttons with shanks that have nearly worn through, you may need to look for another alternative.
How to Make a Vintage Button Bracelet by Candace Jedrowicz
There are endless possibilities for materials that you can pair with buttons for your jewelry making. Typically I stick to traditional jewelry making materials such as metal chain links, seed beads, and metal charms, but there is no need to feel limited to this. For example, consider the some of the components that people use to make steampunk jewelry. Again, it is important to consider the style of the piece. Most of the pieces that I make are intended to be fun, everyday jewelry that is not terribly expensive and can be dressed up or down for different occasions. If you are creating higher end items at higher price points, you will want to consider high quality components such as sterling silver and Swarovski beads.
When you follow button jewelry tutorials or patterns, construction is not a big consideration because the original jewelry designer has already put a lot of thought into it. Unless you are significantly changing the design, you won't have to worry about it. However, if you're creating your own original designs, construction is a big consideration. What material and/or jewelry making method will support the specific design? For example, I use a number of beadweaving techniques for my button jewelry and must ensure that the weaving construction will support the weight. It is also important to think about how the buttons will hang or sit on your piece, particularly for jewelry with hanging components such as charm bracelets and dangle earrings. Jewelry rarely looks the same lying down as it does when a person is wearing it.
If you are only planning to make a few pieces of button jewelry for yourself or as gifts, photography is most likely not a concern. If you are planning to sell jewelry online and/or blog or post elsewhere (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) about your jewelry on a regular basis, photography is really important. I cannot stress that enough. Jewelry is an extremely competitive market, and it takes high quality photos to stand out from the crowd on Etsy, Pinterest, and blogs. I have already written a number of articles on this topic, which you can check out below. If you are brand new to the world of product photography, don't get overwhelmed. Set a couple goals and build from there.
Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 34: Easy Product Photography
Purchasing Wholesale Materials
Purchasing wholesale or bulk materials is another important consideration when you're planning to make large quantities of items to sell. I am always on the lookout for wholesale deals on new buttons and bulk vintage button offerings. I also scout wholesale options for other jewelry materials that I use frequently. For example, I go through lots of jump rings for button charm bracelets and a couple of my other popular button designs, and it has been worthwhile for me to find jump rings at wholesale prices.
- Itsy Bitsy Paper: . . . Paint Chip Jewelry Card . . .
This is just one fun possibility for packaging button jewelry.
I could write a separate article about packaging, but the bottom line is that your packaging should fit with your jewelry. All of the same considerations about style, etc. that go into the jewelry making also go into the packaging. If you are gifting items, adding even very simple packaging or wrapping will make a big difference. If you are selling jewelry as opposed to gifting it, you'll want to consider how it fits into your entire shop aesthetic. I have used music as a backdrop for both my jewelry product photography and my craft fair display since I started selling jewelry. Thus, sheet music earring cards were a natural choice for my shop.
How to Make a Button Necklace by Michele Baratta | Jewelry Making
Are you looking for more button craft projects? Check this out!
- Button Craft Project Ideas: How to Make Easy Crafts with Buttons
Are you interested in craft ideas with buttons? This article includes 10 ideas for easy button craft projects with lots of photos and resources.