2012 National Button Society Convention!

February 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Posted in book events, button events, buttons!, chatty, vintage treasures | Leave a comment

Hello, friends and button lovers!

National Button Society 2012 convention in Portland!

It’s been quite awhile since I had time to post, but I wanted to share an exciting update… my hometown of Portland, Oregon will be hosting the National Button Society’s annual convention this August! If you’re nearby, or can plan a trip, I hope you’ll join us at the show. I’ve been to three of the Oregon State Button Society shows, and they’re so interesting, from special card competitions to shopping with dozens of button dealers. The national convention should be amazing!

Button Curve Necklace

I’m happy to say that my friend and Button It Up contributor Diane Gilleland and I will be giving a talk on crafting with buttons, sharing plenty of visuals and ideas for using buttons in your sewing, patchwork, knitting, crochet, collage, and any other craft you enjoy. We’re already having a lot of fun putting our presentation together…

Button It Up - button hoop earrings

I’ll also be teaching a button jewelry class as one of the workshops at the show. I’d love to work with you to create a beautifully customized bracelet, earrings, necklace or set with your favorite buttons. Time and date on both of these are TBA, but several of the other workshops are already posted as well! You can also download a discount admission coupon at the OSBS site.

Button It Up - button charm bracelet

I’ll definitely be posting more often over here, I hope monthly at least, and sharing my favorite new and vintage button finds and projects to make. It’s been a busy couple of years, but I’ve really missed getting to write about buttons and share what I’m making with them. Thank you so much to everyone who’s followed the blog or asked when I might update again. I would love to hear what you’re making, too!


one of my vintage button cards

PS: If you’re interested, I do post regularly at my main craft blog, West Coast Crafty, and would love to see you over there as well.

PS 2: If you’d like a signed copy of Button It Up, they are available on the shelf in the Orange Room at Powell’s City of Books!


crafty (button) tree trimmings

November 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Posted in button projects to do, buttons!, vintage treasures | 1 Comment

I’m so pleased to be one of the contributors to a fantastic new holiday ornament e-book, Crafty Tree Trimmings!

Crafty Tree Trimmings!

You can find it right here through December 31st, so be sure to order soon if you like it. The book is an instant PDF download with printable pages that includes directions and templates for making six pretty holiday ornaments, and 15% of all sales go directly to Project Linus. I designed a set of Bead and Button Sparkle Ornaments, which were a lot of fun to make.

Bead + Button Sparkle Ornaments

You could do your own version with all buttons, or in any colors of your choice… this is a super adaptable project you can take in any direction. I mixed vintage beads, rhinestones, and buttons in a simple configuration, but I think this ornament would be darling covered with tiny antique pearl buttons… or with an ultra-symmetrical arrangement of larger and smaller buttons for a sleeker look.

Bead + Button Sparkle Ornaments

Diane Gilleland and Patricia Zapata are the dynamic publishing duo behind the book, and the other contributors include Betz White, Linda Permann, and Kayte Terry. We each chose a fellow crafter’s ornament to make for fun this month, and I got to make Diane’s lovely Gossamer Thread Trees!

Gossamer Thread Tree 2

I made them as mantel decorations instead of hanging ornaments (lots more on that here), and added tiny button-star toppers to each one using some of my favorite things: glitter, felt, and vintage pearl buttons.

gossamer trees with button stars

Here’s how to make your own star toppers to ornament these gossamer thread trees, if you’d like to try making a set too! You’ll need a small remnant of felt, scissors, glitter or Sparkle Mod Podge, two pearl buttons, a toothpick, and a hot glue gun for each star.

button star toppers for my gossamer thread trees

1. Follow Diane’s instructions on pages 15-18 of Crafty Tree Trimmings to make your gossamer trees. At step 7, when your first layer of wrapped thread is drying, cut one star out of felt for each tree. I cut mine freehand out of plain white craft felt — they were each about an inch across — but you can use a template or pattern if you’d rather.

2. Dip each star into the bowl of fabric stiffener you’ve been using for the thread so that they’re soaked through. Set them on acetate or another resistant surface they won’t stick to to dry.

3. When they’ve dried completely, brush on a coat of Sparkle Mod Podge (or sprinkle glitter on them while they’re still wet) to add a glittery effect.

4. Use a generous dab of hot glue to attach a toothpick to the back of each star. While that is cooling, add a pearl button to the front of each star with hot glue, then turn it over and add the second button over the toothpick on the back. Using a button on each side will make the topper balance nicely — it may tip forward if you only use a button on the front.

5. When you’ve finished making the tree (step 10), set one star onto the top of each cone. They should sit nicely and the toothpick will be completely hidden within the body of the tree.

6. Set the trees out on your mantel or a tabletop, or any other place you’d like to decorate for holidays!

gossamer trees with button stars

I’ll be back tomorrow with more button holiday ornament and decorating ideas! I’m hoping to post every day this week — holiday crafting is one of my favorite things and of course any excuse to make things with buttons is a good one as far as I’m concerned…

Marty’s vintage button collection

August 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Posted in buttons!, chatty, vintage treasures | 3 Comments

I mentioned in my last post that one of my lovely Bead + Button Jewelry students, Marty, brought in her antique family buttons to show us, along with some gorgeous vintage Bakelite pieces she’s found more recently. She was kind enough to let me snap photos of her beautiful collection, including the magical button tin that holds it all!

Marty's vintage button collection - the button tin

These tiny shell buttons and the larger carved ones were passed down from her grandmother.

Marty's vintage button collection - tiny mother of pearls

Marty's vintage button collection - carved shell

Look at these adorable teeny-tiny doll buttons, too!

Marty's vintage button collection - tiny mother of pearls + doll buttons

These two pairs of earrings on the right are made with some other treasured family buttons — the tiny jewels are hand-set one by one in these settings. Beautiful!

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

And she has been collecting lots of beautiful Bakelite buttons to add to the heirlooms, too.

Marty's vintage button collection - colorful Bakelite

Marty's vintage button collection - colorful Bakelite

She mentioned that she’s found lots of her favorites through Jocelyn, who also sells buttons at The Needle and at Oregon State Button Society shows.

Marty's vintage button collection - green Bakelite

Marty's vintage button collection - red Bakelite

Marty's vintage button collection - ivory Bakelite

I can attest that Jocelyn has marvelous buttons! Here are some of my favorites from her booth at the show I went to in April.

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

A few other bits and pieces to mention…

A good-sized chunk of Button It Up is now up on Google Book Search if you’d like a peek at some of the housewares and embellishment projects! Please give it a good rating if you like it, that would be great.

Urban Craft Uprising was fantastic! I’ll have pictures of the fabulous Button Mania workshop Kristen Rask and I co-taught to share soon (my laptop is full to the brim and I need to start moving old photos somewhere else before I can even retrieve what’s on my camera)… but in the meantime, check out her new book, Button + Stitch, which is available for pre-order on Amazon!

favorite shops: Exclusive Buttons

June 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Posted in book reviews, buttons!, favorite shops, vintage treasures | 3 Comments

Exclusive Buttons is one of the most magical button-places on earth. I was lucky enough to visit for the first time on a trip to San Francisco three years ago, and it just captivated me from the second I walked in.

Exclusive Buttons

Exclusive Buttons

It’s a tiny shop filled with vintage buttons of all kinds, from floor to ceiling, in cabinets and on hooks, on cards and loose, in the glass case and in dishes. The owner, Mrs. Mary Sortile, is lovely — talking with her about buttons is such a treat.

Owner of Exclusive Buttons
photo by Amy

Amy visited last month and wrote up a lovely post about her recent trip there, with tons more photos!

Here are some of my finds from my first two visits…

some of my finds from Exclusive Buttons

Some of them turned into Button It Up projects, and some are stand-alone treasures. I still don’t know quite what I’ll do with that gorgeous faceted crystal piece near the center, but just looking at it and enjoying its sparkliness is plenty for now!

some of my finds from Exclusive Buttons

I love the bright casein rounds on their original cards. I think that’s my own personal favorite button-style.

some of my finds from Exclusive Buttons

Be sure to check out Amy’s post for more Exclusive Buttons gorgeousness — she also added all her photos to the Button It Up flickr group! And if you have the book handy, my feature on the shop is on page 11, along with its majestic New York counterpart, Tender Buttons.

extraordinary button shops

I hope to be back for another visit soon! If you go (and oh, you should!), the shop is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11-4, and Mrs. Sortile accepts checks and cash only.

Exclusive Buttons
10252 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
(510) 524-5606

p.s. Thanks to Kristen Conard of Feminist Review for writing a new review of Button It Up last week!

bead + button jewelry in the summer of making

June 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Posted in book events, button events, buttons!, crafty, vintage treasures | 1 Comment

I’m very happy to be teaching a new jewelry-making class as part of the Summer of Making next month at the wonderful PNCA here in Portland!

summer of making

The Continuing Education department has put together a fantastic line-up of classes, and they’re offering a very generous giveaway this week if you help spread the word about them

Button It Up - cover!

from the blog:
We have a nice package of promotional items to give away. This includes a signed copy of Susan Beal’s Button It Up, Denyse Schmidt’s Quilt-It Kit, a yard of County Fair, Patchwork Promenade Print by Denyse Schmidt and a Summer of Making Poster. To win leave a comment on the blog, become a fan of Summer of Making on Facebook or mention us on your Facebook profile or blog. You will get one entry for each of these (maximum of 4). We will randomly select the winner June 21.

I am very honored to be one of the teachers alongside some of my favorite crafters. Denyse Schmidt is coming to teach a two-day workshop, which I am so excited to take! Jess Beebe is teaching By Hand: Needlework and Macrame, Sarah Schlosser-Moon is teaching Artful Blogging, Brenda Mallory is teaching Contemporary Fiber Art, and I am teaching Bead and Button Jewelry.

mending jewelry: tools and materials

I’m so excited about this class. We’ll have four days to work on jewelry, beading and embellishment techniques of all types, a luxurious amount of time to make things! Bead + Button Jewelry meets Monday through Thursday, July 20-23 from 10-3 in a nice big classroom with natural light at PNCA — all the details are here.

my finds from The Needle

from the website:
In this hands-on class, students will learn and practice a range of beading, jewelry-making and embellishment techniques, including wirework, stringing, weaving, knotting, gluing, hand-sewing, and other craft methods. Bring in your own favorite pieces to design around, complementing them with vintage and new beads, buttons, findings, chain, fabric, and other materials from Susan’s collection.

vintage beads for earrings - black white + red

Aside from the nuts and bolts of practical making, we’ll focus on color, balance, arrangements, and intuitive design – creating a collection of jewelry and other crafts that bring your treasures to life. With four days to work together, we’ll create a collection of instant favorites for gifts or for yourself, while building a strong foundation for designing future projects with your new skills.

buttons in search of their hairclips

The projects we create will reflect each student’s personal sense of style and other favorite elements – instead of a cookie-cutter approach, each designer will enjoy the flexibility to focus on what he or she prefers.

Pages from Bead Simple

If you want to know more about any of the classes, you can download a syllabus for each one on its page at the Summer of Making site. And if you have any questions about mine in particular, please ask away over here!

vintage beads for earrings - brights

One last thing: if you are interested in taking Bead + Button Jewelry, I would be thrilled to have some crafty friends in the class. If anyone who registers mentions that they read my blog or either of my book sites (or have checked out my flickr, or know me through Portland stuff) I will put together a special package of vintage beads and buttons as a thank-you! You can leave a comment here or just let me know the first day of class, and I’ll put something fun together with some of your favorite colors and styles and bring it for you to craft with the second day and beyond.

p.s. I’m cross-posting this announcement on West Coast Crafty and Bead Simple, so sorry for the exact repetition if you see it more than once, but since the class ties together techniques from both of my books, I’d like to spread the word in all directions!

another button giveaway!

February 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Posted in buttons!, contributor news, vintage treasures | Leave a comment

The lovely Sarah Johner is offering up a very special giveaway this week: one lucky blog reader will win a handmade button tree like the one she contributed to Button It Up! This is such a magnificent project, I can tell you from admiring it firsthand that it is just incredible in person and covered with gorgeous vintage buttons from top to bottom. Hurry over to her Let’s Celebrate! post and comment to be entered in the drawing.

Jack showing off his mama's button tree!

Here’s her son Jack showing off her beautiful project, too. So cute!

Don’t forget, tomorrow (at midnight, Pacific time) is the deadline to enter to win copies of Button It Up or button stashes, too… so please stop by and leave me a note about your favorite buttons if you haven’t already.

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