Help me push my buttons.
September 16, 2010 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I have 20 lbs of beautiful antique and vintage buttons of every size, shape, material and form. I recuperating from surgery for the next 4 weeks. Can you suggest projects to utilize my time and materials?

I have this massive stash of amazing buttons, and would love links and tutorials to really interesting and inventive button jewelry and crafts of a wearable and/or decorative nature. I have limited sewing skills, but other crafting ninja skills, and access to other tools and materials. I would like to steer clear of overly country/folksy styles, although steampunk would be fine. Thanks for the inspiration!
posted by kimdog to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: make button wreaths!!
posted by elvissa at 4:08 PM on September 16, 2010

Do you knit? You could treat the buttons like beads, and thread them on your yarn before you start knitting.
posted by julen at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2010

Button necklaces can be pretty awesome, and won't look too happy-hands-at-home depending on what type of buttons you use and what you string them on.
posted by padraigin at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wire-wrapping? I can't point to specific good tutorials, but I know they're out there.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Button Bouquets!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:17 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: This book is available with tons of projects for buttons. Have fun.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:17 PM on September 16, 2010

She also has a great web site. Button it Up.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:18 PM on September 16, 2010

I always wanted to make a skirt with buttons all around the hem. It could get heavy really fast, though.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:47 PM on September 16, 2010

You could always go Cthulu on these... (I'd go 'squee!' but I keep picturing these with grotesque little details, something a bit more tilted toward Halloween. Then hand them out to fiends/friends with a certain sense of humor.)

Or make your own version of a stupid sock creature (a dragon, perhaps?) and cover it with buttons!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Here's another button bouquet using paper.
posted by bettafish at 5:32 PM on September 16, 2010

2nd button bouquets! I made one in grad school that sat prominently in my apartment and it always got many compliments!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:34 PM on September 16, 2010

Nth-ing button bouquets and button wreaths. And also adding the idea of button mosaics.
posted by shesaysgo at 5:43 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: So many lovely ideas, but the wreaths and bouquets are especially nice! I love what you guys are showing me so far!
posted by kimdog at 5:44 PM on September 16, 2010

Etsy inspiration.
posted by jeanmari at 5:52 PM on September 16, 2010

I've made button chandelier earrings with buttons, jump rings, and earring hooks.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 6:17 PM on September 16, 2010

Just a note: I'm not sure if you are a button collector yourself or if the buttons are from another source. I have a couple of relatives who are seriously into button collecting, and it's conceivable you might have some that are worth money to a collector. If you're thinking about doing anything irreversible to some of them, especially really unique or eye-catching ones, it might be worth a buzz through eBay or whatever to double-check that you won't be wrecking a $50 button.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:31 PM on September 16, 2010

Check out the button art section of the Button Candy blog. I especially love the "Hello" mosaic!
posted by kitty teeth at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2010

Awhile back I got inspiration from vintage button cards I saw for sale on Etsy and I designed my own button cards (or you could print out a vintage button card found oniline - search Flickr), then sew or glue 4 buttons on the card and use it as a greeting card for snail mail or sell them on Etsy. If the buttons are sewn on securely you may be able to mail the card without an envelope. There was a question likes this recently here (What can I mail?).
posted by cda at 8:21 PM on September 16, 2010

What lobstermitten said. I have sold single buttons for hundreds of dollars. And some of them weren't eye catching at all.
posted by antiquated at 8:23 PM on September 16, 2010

antiquated, do you know what's a good resource she could use to check values?
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:30 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: Lobstermitten: I am not a collector... these are from my mother-in-law who was a dress designer and master seamstress from the 50's through the 90's. My sister-in-law has already sorted through them and taken the ones she wanted- which were many of the old ones and oddities, so this is what's left. The bulk are primarily from the companies where she worked, and are probably nothing valuable, although there's always a chance there could be something spectacular in the mix. However, I am not going to sweat it too much. We just a spent the last three years dealing his parents estate- appraising, dividing, selling, tossing, etc. I'm just not overly concerned if I "misuse" a valuable button.

However, I would be interested in any good resources that antiquated
might suggest.
posted by kimdog at 5:11 AM on September 17, 2010

Your librbary may have books, there are several really nice books about antique buttons published in the last 10 years, and they would be a good way to quickly check for any treasures.
I have this one and it's been helpful.
But not sweating it too much sounds sensible to me, have fun with your buttons!
posted by antiquated at 7:34 AM on September 17, 2010

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