Button It Up at Urban Craft Uprising!

July 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Posted in book events, button events, buttons! | Leave a comment

It’s been a little while — this has been a busy summer!

Speaking of, if you’re in Seattle, I’d love to see you at Urban Craft Uprising this weekend…

Urban Craft Uprising!

I’ll be signing copies of Button It Up (plus a few copies of Bead Simple for good measure) from 1 to 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Button It Up - cover!

And from 2:30 to 3:30 on Saturday, Kristen Rask and I will be doing a super fun crafty demo together, Button Mania! You can make yourself some button hairclips or sewn accessories in your favorite colors — we’ll have all the stuff you need for both projects and you can wear your new fanciness home!

Button Hairclips at Powell's

I also had the chance to teach my Bead + Button Jewelry class as part of PNCA’s Summer of Making last week, which was fantastic. Here are some of my favorite button projects from my students…

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

Mandi made this incredible crocheted button-and-wire necklace using some lovely techniques Diane taught on Wednesday. I absolutely love this piece!

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

And Marty made these two sets of button-cluster earrings with antique buttons from her family collection. (More on that later!)

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

All my class photos are here on flickr and in the Summer of Making flickr pool if you want to see more!

Hope to see you at Urban Craft Uprising this weekend… the organizers are nice enough to sell copies of Button It Up (and all the featured authors’ books) both days of the fair, so even though I’ll only be there on Saturday you can enjoy the button-ness (including a peek at Kristen Rask‘s new book Button + Stitch!) both days!


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!

maker faire report

June 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Posted in book events, button events, contributor news | Leave a comment

Diane snapped some photos of the crafting going on at our Buttoning It Up demo at Maker Faire on Sunday!

buttoning it up at Maker Faire!

buttoning it up at Maker Faire!

She said it was a lovely time and that people made some very cute hairclips! She was also nice enough to snap a photo of my books and jewelry kits in the Maker Shed — so cool to see.

My books and kits in the Maker Shed

So great to get some peeks — thank you, Diane! You can see all of her photos here and read about some of her fantastical experiences on Craftypod.

I’m writing up a post about Summer of Making, which something else I’m very excited about, and will have lots more details about craft classes and a button giveaway soon, but for now here is the beautiful poster!

summer of making

button it up at Maker Faire!

May 28, 2009 at 10:30 am | Posted in book events, button events, buttons!, contributor news | Leave a comment

I’m excited to announce that Button It Up will be part of the magnificent Maker Faire this weekend!


Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it in person myself… traveling solo with a one-year-old got a little too complicated, and I’m so disappointed to miss it. But lucky for me, my dear friend and Button It Up contributor Diane Gilleland will be there and generously offered to teach my crafty demo: making button hairclips to take home!

button hairclips

Diane will be leading the free half-hour Buttoning It Up workshop at 4pm on Sunday afternoonall the details are here. I put together a whole box of colorful buttons and some extra bits and pieces for her to bring down to the event. Stop by and choose your favorites to make a set of crafty hairclips — you can embellish them with rhinestones, alphabet beads, or layer on more buttons if you like, too!

buttons in search of their hairclips

And if you are interested, you can get your own copy of Button It Up in the Maker Shed all weekend, too. Thank you so much to Diane and CRAFT: for their support of the book and their love of buttons!

Diane's Maker Notebooks for Maker Faire!

There is so much amazing stuff going on at Maker Faire — along with the awesome Bazaar Bizarre craft fair, there are lots of make-and-take projects to check out. Some of the ones that sound especially fun to me are:

Diane’s Maker Notebook project at the Provo Craft booth
Cathy Callahan’s Vintage-Inspired Paper-Mache
Kathy Cano Murillo’s Secret Tips for Using Craft Supplies
and Michaela Murphy’s Kids Crafts: Story-Telling!

I wish I could be there myself (I’m already looking forward to next year) but I’ll be eagerly checking out flickr and the CRAFT: blog for colorful updates and details! Have fun, makers!

Next week I’m going to start up my Favorite Shops series again with some new button sources I especially love. Let me know if you have one to suggest, too, I’d love to share some favorites from other folks!

busting out your buttons!

May 21, 2009 at 11:38 am | Posted in book reviews, buttons!, contributor news | 1 Comment

My sweet and talented friend (and guest designer*, jewelry maker, and writer extraordinaire) Jennifer Perkins is a constant crafty inspiration to me — she’s always up to a million cool things at once!

me and Jennifer Perkins on the set of Craft Lab
here we are on the set of her DIY Network show Craft Lab a few years ago

And this week she has two posts on her Naughty Secretary Club blog about Button It Up: a lovely book review and giveaway (be sure to enter by next Tuesday for your chance to win a book!)

Button It Up - cover!

and an interview with me about all things buttons, along with some other fun stuff. Thanks so much, Jennifer!

Cathy of California on the Martha Stewart show!

*If you haven’t seen her wonderful projects, check out her Bric-A-Brac Charm Bracelet from Bead Simple

Bric-a-Brac Bracelet

and her Feedsack Covered Button Necklace from Button It Up. If you like these beauties, you will love her craft book, Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry.

Naughty Secretary Club button necklace

p.s. I have just joined Ravelry (as susanstars) if you would like to be friends over there. I am a pretty slow knitter (I love it, but it’s kind of my sixth craft) but it’s so much fun to see what other people make, and I was thrilled to see that there are a whole bunch of groups for button lovers!

the Oregon State Button Society show!

May 11, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Posted in button events, buttons! | 2 Comments

I had the chance to visit the 2009 Oregon State Button Society show this month and it was spectacular! I had never been to a button show before, but Myrna Goldware (of The Needle fame) told me about it a few months ago, and I marked my calendar right away. I had Pearl in tow, so my time was short, but it was a fantastic experience and I’m so glad I got to see it all.

Oregon State Button Society Show

The theme this year was “Buttons… The Stories They Tell,” which was fascinating. Everyone at the show was so welcoming and they immediately gave me permission to take pictures… so I started my trek around the room with a few of the exhibits, like this set of hand-embellished clothes and accessories in the style of the world-famous Pearly Kings and Queens.

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

There were also rows and rows of trays in the back of the room, which members had created for themed competitions.

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

I loved seeing all the buttons together in these inventive and fascinating combinations, it was almost too much to take in! Here are a few I especially liked, all having to do with my favorites, pearl buttons:

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

The center of the room was all dealers and collectors (you can get a much better idea of the scope in these photos), with thousands and thousands of buttons for sale. I got to meet Jocelyn (who supplies The Needle with buttons galore), which was lovely, and snap a few photos of some of her legions of buttons for sale, all neatly arranged on cards inside dozens of flip-boxes, sorted by material and type:

Oregon State Button Society Show

Oregon State Button Society Show

I’ll round up all of my finds and post a photo of them together — I found some very sweet Bakelite, casein and (of course) pearl buttons. My last purchase was six tiny, exquisite baby pearl buttons, perfect for embellishing something special for my own baby Pearl.

Oregon State Button Society Show

All of my photos are here and you can find out lots more about the Oregon society here, and see their photos from the show here. The 2010 show is already set for April 30 – May 1, and the theme is Luau, Button Style… I’ve got the dates circled on my calendar and this time I’m hoping to spend a longer chunk of the day there!

For information on button societies in your state (in the US), visit the National Button Society website to find the nearest organizations and events. The national convention, which is themed “When Buttons Fly Over Colorado,” will be taking place in Denver this August 3 -8, and it sounds like it will be amazing. In the meantime, you can read some excellent articles on vintage and antique buttons on the NBS site, and see photos from past shows, too.

Thank you to the OSBS and everyone I met last week, it was wonderful!

a bonus owl + a fantastic e-book

April 18, 2009 at 8:10 am | Posted in contributor news, project extras | 1 Comment

I made a new owl toy project this month — this time, he’s a baby-friendly bigger cousin of the Big-Eyed Owl toy from Button It Up!

Big-Eyed Owl and his baby-friendly cousin

To keep him safe for the smallest children to play with, I replaced the covered-button eyes with felt circles, and left off the button claws. To make up for the distressing lack of buttons, I added a secret crackly surprise inside: recycled wipes packages to provide a satisfying crinkle when the baby grabs hold. He has been a big hit with my daughter, Pearl!

Pearl and her new crinkly owl!

The full tutorial is here on CraftStylish, and you can use the same template I made for the Big-Eyed Owl (found here on the project extras page) — I adapted mine to be bigger and wider for easy grabbing, as described in the tutorial, but it’s the same basic shape and pattern. I would love to see yours if you make one!

And in other news, my good friend and talented contributor Diane Gilleland has just published a fantastic new e-book… and look what’s on the cover!

Making a Great Blog

It is a warm, clear, and ultra-helpful guide to concepting and writing a craft (or other creative) blog that is not only fun for you to do, but inspires community and response and attracts enthusiasts and readers — and her examples to illustrate her ideas include vintage buttons among many other lovely crafty things! Congratulations, Diane!

You can get your own copy here and read more about the scope and details in Rachel’s review at CRAFT:.

favorite shops: The Needle

April 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Posted in buttons!, favorite shops | 3 Comments

I thought I’d write up some of my favorite places to find vintage and new buttons… and the first shop I want to spotlight is The Needle, right here in Portland.

The Needle on SE 37th

It’s a tiny shop full of fascinating books, antiques, and ephemera, including bowls full of vintage buttons to sift through and choose your favorites!

The Needle on SE 37th

I met Myrna Goldware through my neighbor Randy — she is a button collector extraordinaire and generously shared her magnificent photographs with me to bring the Vintage Button Primer section of Button It Up to life.

And she curates some of the incredible finds at The Needle, including a fantastic rotating exhibit of buttons, photographs, cards,

the button display at The Needle

and even a charm string from her own collection of treasures.

the button display at The Needle

The shop offers two bowls of vintage buttons to sift through… one near the register has a mix of buttons for 25¢ apiece,

Magnificent bowl of buttons at The Needle

and the other is a “clearance” bowl priced at 10¢ each,

10¢ button bowl

also with plenty of treasures.

10¢ button bowl

Here’s what I found one afternoon — maybe 2/3 of these are from the 25¢ bowl and the rest from the 10¢. I could have happily spent another hour looking!

my finds from The Needle

If you go, The Needle is open most afternoons from about 1-5. You can call ahead to find out the hours and plan a visit, and be sure to say hello to Myrna when you are there!

The Needle Thrift Shop
1420 SE 37th Ave (a half-block north of Hawthorne)
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 234-7662

button craft challenge alert!

March 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Posted in button projects to do, buttons!, chatty, contributor news, project extras | 1 Comment

The button hairclip video is already up from this morning’s episode of AM Northwestjust click “crafting with buttons” on their front page and you can check it out if you’d like. Wow, that was fast! They showed off a few of my book projects and then I made three hairclips — a solo blue one, a Blazers-inspired black-and-red layered one, and a spring-y pink sparkle and green one (a similar style to these three, which were some of my samples from last week at Powell’s).

photo by Lee

One thing that might be helpful from this little video, which isn’t mentioned in the book, is that it’s easier to keep your hairclips balanced and even while the glue is drying if you slide them onto a postcard or envelope or something else to hold them in place — otherwise they can tip to one side and the button can slide around a bit. I figured that one out at Powell’s last week when people were making hairclips and needed to take them home before the glue was completely dry, it works nicely for these guys.

And I’m super excited that Craftster is doing a button-themed craft challenge this month, with a copy of Button It Up as the prize!

This challenge calls for you to decorate an existing item in any room of your home with buttons.

You can use buttons from your stash, purchase new or vintage buttons, or even craft your own buttons! Glue, sew, resin, or use any method you want to attach the buttons. Your object could be something as small as a soap dish in your bathroom or even as big as a piece of furniture in your living room. Just choose an object and make sure the end result is adorned with buttons.

You can find all the details on this thread, and you’ll need to post your entries between April 1 and April 5 to enter. I can’t wait to see the projects…

A huge thank-you to Leah Kramer (who made the lovely Buttons and Beads necklace, which you can see more of on the project extras page and pictured on page 57 in the book) and Craftster for including the book as part of their fantastic contest. Good luck!

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