Sunday, July 31, 2011

Social Fasteners

I never had much interest in buttons, until I started making jewelry out of vintage things. Then the whole world of buttons opened up to me. My grandmother had a big jar of buttons which became goods and money in my play shops as a child and stacking them, coding them by colour and type and making vast landscape patterns on the kitchen table became fond childhood activities. Now, every time I see a jar of buttons in a flea market, my heart does a little jump. 

What intrigues me is the detail and fine craftsmanship of many rare buttons. In New York a few years ago I bought a handful of very expensive Victorian mourning buttons from a dealer. They were jet black and carved intricately with patterns and flowers and were like miniature wall plaques. Indeed, in the history of buttons, I read that buttons were originally artifacts and were used as seals before they became fasteners. They have been a small but significant part of human life for 2000 years.

The buttons I list on etsy are there because I see their potential as jewelry. They are as beautiful as any bead but have the added advantage of being vintage which means they are unlikely to be seen elsewhere. Fashion in buttons change and match the values of each era's need for uniqueness. Fashion helps us express ourselves individually, but the social implications have not been discussed by serious scholars.

There is a French philosopher called Gilles Lipovetsky who has written a book about how fashion trends influences us in more ways than the superficial. 

In 'The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy', he argues for a more in depth look at fashion and how it fits into culture.He suggests that fashion being the realm of superficiality fosters tolerance of difference between different groups in society and therefore it has an important role to help smooth over conflict. 

When we recycle old fashion like buttons and make new fashionable items we are not only helping foster tolerance to different social groups, but perhaps also to times.

You could argue that buttons as integral to fashion, become in this way, kinds of fasteners for social groups current and past as well as for actual material things.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Faux is the french word for false and in a sense all costume jewelry is faux in that it aims to replicate more expensive materials.  The verdigris on this little 1950s brass lizard is real but its development was sped up by my application of acid. The process is natural and he would have had his own natural verdigris being 60 years old had he not been sealed to prevent it. By removing the clear coating from his brass body, I can allow the elements to do their work. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and it is the copper component that reacts to produce the lovely green patina known as verdigris. Think of the beautiful green Statue of Liberty and you have one giant verdigris sculpture.

I have also listed faux pearls today. They are glass and glass pearls that have been hand knotted like the real thing and have a substantial feel and weight, they are cool to the touch, much like genuine pearls. They are coated with nacre, the same material that coats a genuine pearl. The only difference is like the verdigris, the process is sped up through man made intervention. I wonder what is more important, the end result or the process of getting there?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Secret stories

The term costume jewelry was apparently introduced in the 1930s by Coco Chanel. She promoted faux pearls as it as her belief that costume jewelry was meant to make women feel beautiful rather than give her an aura of wealth. By being inexpensive, costume jewelry could be replaced with the next fashion. The 1930s also saw the stockmarket crash when nobody could afford real jewelry and so the fashion of costume jewelry took off.

When I look for jewelry, my gut instinct goes for good design and simplicity. I am always attracted to good crafstmanship and vintage costume jewelry has this in abundance! Its funny how what was considered everyday in the twenties and thirties are now considered quite precious.

The subtlety and beauty of the above 1930's faux pearl necklace, the 1920s beads and the filigree and rhinestone hair clip from the thirties have an appeal which far outshines contemporary mass machine produced costume jewelry. It is not so much bling, but beauty and subtlety and an understated femininity (girl power) which all of us girls respond to. I am a romantic and I love wearing something that someone else in another time and place may have worn and in this way, the piece carries a host of secret stories.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

After dallying around sourcing vintage things  for some weeks, which was terrific fun- I had a lovely couple of days returning to the type of work that got me started on etsy - recycling vintage spoons. There is something immediately romantic and for me, compelling about these little souvenirs. The images are exquisite and have a lovely soft colouring that comes with their age. Thy are idealized snapshots of places that help remind us of our moment of enjoyment or relaxation that comes with travel.

I love working with the images and the metal - and working with metal is new for me - in my day job I make video art. I do love making videos but physically creating an object of beauty and originality is also highly satisfying.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The bright colours of summer, beg to be worn! 

If you like to wear yellow, you have an interesting and stimulating (sunny?) personality. Active and involved with whatever is happening. You are a coping person, who meets life's challenges, you like to investigate and inspire. Yellow presses forward to the new, modern, the developing and uniformed, and drawn in ideas from the "higher mind".

Gold on the other hand, symbolizes wealth and power. For the Indian culture, gold is the symbol of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and considered highly auspicious. I love these metal wire balls - they remind me of dandelions - highly favourable  and wont blow away!

These little turn of the century british gold terriers had a very important function in a victorian lady's wardrobe. They were dress elevators - little gold pins which held up skirts to prevent them from dragging in the mud

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Philosophy of the miniature

Eighty years old french dog begs for his missing paw. Only kidding - I love this little fellow, he has such a cheeky expression. I am clearly attracted to metal objects in particular. There is a tactile quality to them, especially when they are small objects. Small figurines have been around since prehistory. What is so special about miniature figurines? Why are they so popular as collectibles? The literary theorist Susan Stewart says that miniatures become a stage onto which we project our stories, dreams, desires and wishes. We are the only species who miniaturize life - it is as if it is an easy way to dominate those things we cannot totally control. Miniatures allow us to recreate not only stories but also nature itself. This little dog frozen in his cute playfulness encapsulates a little emotional package, that we can occupy every time we look or touch him. You can buy this little piece of history and charm at my store.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tigers and Goats

Predator and prey are the themes of this Nepalese chess like board game I have just listed. It brings a tone of reality to the idea of strategic game playing. 

In biology, these two roles are mutually exclusive and have evolved with eachother. They need eachother and the fine balance between the two maintains the ecological cycle. 

I am not sure which one I am closer to, predator or prey? What about you and why?

When not in play the pieces of this vintage game are stored together inside the side of the box which is neat! Although my imagination gets carried away at the thought of goats and tigers together in a small confined space!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Standing Out

There is something about the romanticism of old jewellery. I made this  beautiful piece  from 1940s and 1950s jewellery to make a truly unique necklace. Kind of Victorian/gothic in styling. Dramatic of course. Who wants to get lost in the crowd? Now is a good time to buy as my 20% sale finishes in 2 days.

Monday, July 4, 2011

1940s Mother of pearl cameos

If only she could talk - she is 70 years old and I like the way she looks into another time - is she looking backward to the past? Cameos date back to 3rd century BC in Greece! The word describes carving a relief into stone or shell. They were often used as signet rings and very popular with the ancient romans.  Royalty traditionally used to give cameos of themselves to loyal subjects- mementos of their power and greatness!

The standard theme of a young lady as subject for cameos is very old. The delicacy, innocence and beauty of a young maiden may be a reminder of eternal youth- another talisman of hope for the wearer.
Make your own exquisite piece with these vintage cameos.


Mid Century retro plastic red and white dome clip on earrings

These are gorgeous - bright red with a little cream frill around them - like big red sunflowers.
They would look great with rockabilly swirly skirted dress on a hot summers day.

They are 1" across. Please check out my other interesting vintage finds.

Facebook page

aw gee whizz I am slow on the social networking  - it is taking my head a long time to understand the concepts - I am known to talk too much and love a good conversation - so it may be a good thing that I am slow in my uptake. Anyway my facebook now has a user name, yay! I love bouncing around!

                                                               Antique Gold tone Kangaroo and baby joey charms                                      

Sunday, July 3, 2011

deco style

This silver bead and pearl deco style applique and trim is an exquisite thing - its like a large ornate piece of jewelery. I had not seen them before I came across this one, but I may be hooked! I am thinking that it would be lovely to make it into a necklace for a dazzling wedding ensemble...
There is something about the cool smooth and angular patterns of deco that give it a certain sophistication.

These beautiful clear buttons also speak of deco

This nut cracker from the seventies also continues the theme of cool elegance.

My final delicious piece of deco inspired stuff are these wonderful lucite star shaped candle holders. From the sixties and it seems to me that a revival of deco can be found in the modernist leanings of the these modern (now retro) times - must be why I like it so much!
My final

Friday, July 1, 2011

My First 100 items!

Well it took a while, but I am excited to be reaching my first 100 items in my etsy shop. The only way I can celebrate is to spread the love.

To celebrate I'm having a sale for one week only finishing on July 7.....
20% OFF everything.
Please use discount code "YAY100ITEMS'

This is something I have not listed yet - but it is so beautiful I thought I would post it.....