Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reviving a Beloved Treasure

I am always thinking of new and different things to do with my vintage button collection for The Button Lady shop on Etsy. I never thought I would be in the repair business though.

I was completely flattered when Christine contacted me about fixing a vintage button bracelet that had completely fallen apart and was not wearable. She had seen the bracelets I had made that are listed in my shop, and liked how they were put together. She sent me a picture of hers and then I took my own "before" and "after" pictures.....

The buttons were literally hanging by a thread on this thick, elastic, woven gold thread. It actually looked worse than the picture because when you held the bracelet up, the buttons dangled off of it about an inch. This was going to be a challenge, not ever sewing on this type of material and having to figure out where all the buttons originally were and make them all fit again!

I decided I was up for the challenge though because I am so drawn to this type of jewelry. This bracelet is exactly what I modeled my bracelets after. I saw one behind the locked glass in a case in an antique store in Skaneateles, New York. So vintage, so pretty. I asked the clerk about it and she couldn't give me any information as to their history or age. I decided I had to make some from my buttons collection.

Then my wonderful sister Debbie, being the avid Ebay shopper, presented me with a large tote full of vintage buttons that she had been buying and collecting for me. What a surprise when I opened one of the cigar boxes (she had used her collection of cigar boxes to store them) and there was THIS bracelet....

Wow! It is 2" wide and just full of beautiful vintage buttons. It is such a treasure to me that I instantly understood Christine wanting hers to be repaired so she could wear it again.

It was back in Burbank, California in 1990 that Christine had a coworker that made these lovely bracelets to sell at craft fairs and button shows. She was a passionate collector of buttons and made a hobby of collecting, trading, selling and buying and studying antique buttons.

Christine wrote these memories to me....

"I think what drew me to the bracelet was one particular button, a white ceramic one with little painted blue and red flowers...that one just called to me. I think because it almost looked like a drawer handle for a little chest or something, I'll never know. The rest of course are gorgeous, but when she gave me a selection of perhaps 3 to choose from, it was that button that did it for me. EVERYWHERE I would go, someone would comment on the bracelet. I liked it because of it's "tightness" - meaning nothing dangled or clinked...it was just there and lovely. I used to wear it everywhere, but once when I lost a button, I stopped wearing it. Seeing it just sit there in my jewelry box would break my heart. As the years progressed, the thread lost it's elasticity...Which is why I'm so glad to have found you! One of the things I do know about button collectors is that they are very passionate about their buttons, knowing the history of each one...having a bracelet with so many antique buttons, it's mind-blowing to imagine the story behind each one, isn't it?"

Yes, it is and it is that passion for buttons that keeps me looking for ways to use them.

Here is the finished product and there is that white button with the blue and red flowers Christine was talking about....

Christine told me about a beaded watch she has that was bought in Maui a few years after she got the bracelet. It too needs repair now.......any beaders out there up for a challenge?

AnnMarie :)


  1. What a beautiful use of beautiful buttons!

  2. That is a great use of buttons. They are all very nice, but I immediately noticed the white one with the painted flowers and thought it was the most precious one of the bunch! :) You did a great job on the repair.

  3. Beautiful bracelets!! Your repair job on Christine's button bracelet is fabulous - it was great to see the before and after pictures! It is not always easy to find a friend who is willing and able to repair such treasures.

  4. I love old buttons!!! I'm trying not to lust after your buttons! :) Well done on the repair!

  5. Gorgeous bracelet! You did a great job!!

  6. Great work. I reckon you could take on the watch repair too if you set your mind to it!

  7. that is sooooo beautiful!!!! this is what i did with some vintage buttons

    I just love that the old buttons have a story and I like guessing what it would be

    1. I checked out your lamp and I LOVE it! I had wanted to do something with lampshades but didn't know what! I think you found it!

  8. What a unique way to use buttons! You did a great job restoring the bracelet.

  9. Wow you did a great job Ann Marie! Love vintage buttons they are so popular right now for jewellery here in England and online. Blessings Niki x

  10. Extremely creative!


  11. I too have a couple antique button "charm" bracelets in my shop. I actually have the one with the tiny blue flowers painted on it too. They are a "trasure" to me as well - because they are irreplaceable. Truly OOAK.

    I commend you for taking on such a challenge.

  12. What a great thing to be able to do. Where else would you find someone to do that but Etsy!

  13. Your bracelets are beautiful!

  14. Beautiful job and it inspires me to make me one.


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