More Felt Jewellery – Necklaces and Bangle Bracelets

felt jewellery

Today I’ve been listing the rest of my stock of felt jewellery on the Unexpected Boutique website, and also in my Etsy shop.

There are some more felt bead necklaces in bright colours, and also four of my sister‘s felted bangles.

That’s my whole stock of leftover felt beads made into jewellery now – I made a total of fourteen new necklaces using up all the odds and ends.

Latest Jewellery: Felt Necklaces and an Autumnal Button Necklace

Felt and button necklaces

At the moment I’m doing some using-up-of-leftover-materials from previous projects (as with my upcycled bead bracelets) and next in the queue was my box of felt beads. Previously I’ve made big batches of identical necklaces, but with the odd ones left over, over the past couple of days, I’ve made the first few of some one-of-a-kind felt necklaces. There are some more lying in a big fuzzy pile on my workbench waiting to have their clasps put on, but these three are finished and available to buy at Unexpected Boutique’s felt necklaces page.

I’ve also made a new button necklace in autumn colours, to replace the previous new one which sold almost immediately:

This button necklace can be purchased here.

Felt necklaces

Upcycled Bohemian Bead Bracelets – Made With Memory Wire

Boho bracelet

For ages now I’ve had a stash of beads that have been waiting to be made into jewellery. However, out of the whole box, there’s probably only about ten percent that were bought by me as beads. That ten percent are leftovers from other projects; the rest of them are there because, over the years, some beaded necklace or other has broken. Some of these were from jewellery that I owned myself, and others came from other people’s broken jewellery clearouts, and were given to me because people thought I was the sort of person who cold make use of them. The thing is, I mostly haven’t, because I’ve mostly been making things out of buttons rather than beads. I never really got into the whole “bead” thing. But a few weeks ago, I thought: they’ve been sitting there for years. (And I really mean years – I’ve had some of them for getting on fifteen years now.) They are not achieving anything at all by sitting there in a box. So I sat down and made a small fraction of my bead collection into bracelets.

I’m fussy about bracelets – or, specifically, bracelet fastenings. Obviously, as a person who uses their hands a lot, I need a bracelet to do two things: not get in the way too much, and not fall off. Otherwise I just don’t wear them. But I equally despise the kind of bracelet fastening that always requires another person to fasten it for the wearer. That’s just annoying. So this limits me to the alarmingly small number of secure clip fastenings that are easy to do up and take off with one hand, or elastic bracelets. Or so I thought. All this time I’ve been ignoring one really obvious solution to the bracelet problem: memory wire.

Memory wire is basically a hard steel spring, and comes in a big coil that looks like a slinky toy. To make into a bracelet, you cut off a section of one or two coils, and basically just bead it up however you like. When you put on a memory wire bracelet, it does two things – stretches and bends briefly so you can get your wrist in, before returning to its previous shape when on your wrist. As well as this, it gently moulds around whatever size wrist it finds itself around, so will fit snugly on a variety of wrist sizes larger than its resting size (or will be like a round bangle on smaller wrists).

So, memory wire is what my new collection of boho-looking beaded bracelets are made with. You can get them at the Unexpected Boutique, and also in my Etsy shop.

Button Necklaces at Wholesale Prices…

My multicoloured button necklaces are very popular – probably my best-selling item. The thing about them is that as they sell out so quickly, I usually have to make them in batches of ten or so of the same design – otherwise about 90% of my life would be spent photographing different unique necklaces. This means that I have a big pile of unmatched buttons left over. And these make great necklaces – often they contain quite interesting buttons. I just don’t always have time to photograph them all.

I have come up with a Cunning Plan, however. Who wants to buy lots of surprise, lucky-dip type multicoloured button necklaces, with bulk discounts? People shopping for lots of friends and family at Christmas, that’s who… If you might fall into that category in a few months’ time, you might be interested in my special offer for lucky dip button necklaces: the more of these you buy, the more you save. The normal price for a wire button necklace is £12. If you buy one lucky dip necklace, it’s £10, and the more of these you buy, they cheaper they get – right down to £5.50 per necklace when you buy 10.

Here are some examples of the kind of necklaces you might receive:

If you want to take advantage of this offer, I don’t mind what you do with the necklaces – even if you have your own shop, you’re welcome to sell them yourself.

You can get your lucky dip wholesale necklaces here.

Surgical Steel Button Stud Earrings

Burgundy Button Stud Earrings
Burgundy Button Stud Earrings

I have been making button stud earrings with sterling silver stud mounts for years now. Recently I found a good quality source of the same size mounts in surgical steel, which some people find works better for sensitive ears. Now for earrings within my my main range of button stud earrings, in both 9mm and 6mm sizes, you can pick which metal you prefer.

Visit my button stud earrings page here.

New Cord Button Necklaces

My newest limited edition button necklaces are all made with woven cord, and sterling silver findings. For these ones I’ve made more than one in each design, so they’re identical, limited edition runs of just five pieces each. I had several cards of identical vintage buttons, usually with around five buttons, so once I’d collected enough of these, it was just a case of putting the design together and then doing the weaving and knotting part, over and over until they were all safely knotted together (I normally do this fairly quickly in case the buttons spill everywhere).

You can see these for sale on buttonjewellery.co.uk.

Green Button Necklace

green button necklace, £25

button-necklace-champagne-6

champagne and rose button necklace, £25

Multicoloured Button Necklace

multicoloured button necklace, £25

Brown and Mustard Button Necklacemustard button necklace, £25

 

New Hook Button Earrings in Vintage Colours

When people talk about “vintage” or “heritage” colours – what do they mean? I think it’s usually to do with a muted, soft tone to the colours, which might be because a once-bright colour faded with age, or because the pigments used in whatever times qualify as “vintage” may not have been as bold as some used today.

Thus I make a distinction between jewellery made with “vintage buttons” – anything that comes to me secondhand, and appears to be ten years old or more (sometimes a lot more), I usually class in this category – and “vintage colours”, which might be new buttons, just with a softer tone.

Then again, some buttons may be both at once. And some of my jewellery might be made with a mixture of differently-aged buttons. If things look good together, I don’t usually try to segregate them by age. So in my latest button earring collection, you’ll find new buttons alongside older ones, but the colours are themed according to a vintage palette.

Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings

Other People Make Things: Lovely Handmade Soap

There’s a running joke in our house that almost every time we buy something new – normally some kind of commercial product – we have to hack it around and fix it to make it work right, or send it back because it was misdescribed. When something just works straight out of the box, it seems miraculous. With handmade products, of course, things do just work far more often than things from a “this-will-probably-do-for-most-people” factory. With a small scale maker, there’s the opportunity to communicate, customise and check details, which is just not available with mass-produced goods. (Unfortunately it’s not always possible to get handmade versions of everything… plumbing fittings and gutters are sadly not in proliferation on Etsy.)

Even so, just occasionally I buy a handmade product that doesn’t only do what I expected and hoped for, but surpasses it. And because of this, I naturally want to tell everyone else about it, so that they can receive the benefits of whatever-it-is too, and also so that the person who is making it gets more money for doing so and can thus continue. And while it’s a romantic idea to climb on the roof and yell its praises to the vicinity, I’m not sure the neighbours would really, you know, get it… So, instead, I’m doing a more socially acceptable thing, and adding a new category to this otherwise rather self-centred blog: Other People Make Things.

Traditional Crafts UK – Handmade Soap and Solid Shampoo

I’m not an expert on soap-making, but recently I have become a little more educated in soap-buying. As far as I can gather, there are three main types of solid soap to choose from: commercially-produced regular soap, which has had the glycerine removed to be sold separately and is very drying to the skin; semi-handmade soap made with a ready-made glycerine base (which could be made with natural ingredients, but could also be made with cheap synthetics), which the maker has poured into a mould and added things such as colours, scents and extras such as oatmeal or rose petals; and the Real Thing, which is made from scratch with oils and lye using methods called hot-process or cold-process.

irish moss and spirulina soap
Irish Moss and Spirulina Soap

I spent years rejecting soap in favour of shower gel, because I found commercial soap to be too drying, until I found out the differences: soaps are not all equal, and natural handmade soaps made the traditional way are far gentler to use. I can even use them on my face with no problems.

The solid shampoo was a revelation – because it doesn’t contain cheap surfactants which strip the hair of all its oils, as almost all commercial shampoos do, it doesn’t dry it out (something I’ve had a problem with when using commercial shampoos for my entire life) – for the first time, my hair is shiny and sleek (well, ish.. I mean, it’s still my hair, and my hair is rather nonconformist even at best) instead of an uncontrollable collection of frizz. Also, I hardly need to use any of it – I’ve had my shampoo bar for nearly two months now, and it’s only shrunk by about 10%.

There are dozens of different Etsy shops selling soaps made in the traditional cold process method, but after comparing all of those in the UK I decided to go for some soap from Traditional Crafts UK, run by Melanie in Bury. The main reasons I chose these soaps above all the others I could find were:

1. Only the absolute nicest ingredients. No palm oil – the production of this type of oil is particularly damaging to the environment, leading to deforestation and a loss of biodiversity. Most sellers I saw included palm oil in at least some of their soaps, but this shop didn’t have any. Knowing exactly which raw ingredients are in the soap is a definite plus.

2. Sensible shipping prices – it might seem expensive to ship one bar of soap, but it is no more expensive to ship several bars together, and the prices are an accurate reflection of Royal Mail’s actual postage charges. Several sellers were adding more and more shipping costs when more than one bar was bought, which made the whole thing add up to twice as much per bar.

3. Free samples! There were so many different lovely-sounding soaps in the shop that I didn’t know which to pick, but after a couple of quick messages, Melanie sent me some samples to choose from. Choosing soap was still kind of difficult because they were all just as nice as they sounded, but in terms of the two shampoos it was great to be able to choose the right one for my hair type instead of ending up with a whole bar of the one that wasn’t quite so suitable for me.

4. Overall choice of fragrances. I like things that are scented with essential oils (rather than synthetic fragrances), and this shop has loads of choice in that area. There are traditional favourites such as lavender, patchouli or mint, as well as interesting combinations I hadn’t come across, before such as licorice and vetiver.

Citrus and Clary Sage Solid Shampoo
Citrus and Clary Sage Solid Shampoo

My soap choices in the end were Purely Patchouli (patchouli is my favourite scent ever) and the lovely green Irish Moss and Spirulina soap. The shampoo that works on my dry hair is the Rosemary and Tea Tree – but there is an alternative for more oily hair, with Citrus and Clary Sage. This smelled amazing but was just a bit too drying for me, but I can imagine it would be fab for someone whose hair is less of a frizz machine.

As well as soap and shampoo, Melanie’s shop also has a variety of other wonderful-sounding scented things such as facial scrubs, body butters, candles and bath melts – and there’s a whole collection of handmade silver jewellery too. You can begin your shopping spree here.

 

Slim and Lightweight Woven Button Necklaces

Most recently I’ve been making my button necklaces using various cords and weaving or stitching techniques. The first time I ever saw someone wearing a necklace made with buttons (which inspired me to make one for my friend’s birthday, then for myself, and then – well, the rest of this story is here, so I won’t repeat it right now) it was actually quite unlike the first button necklaces I made. It was made with small buttons, all the same size, woven together with cord. But when I sat down to make button necklaces, my first button necklace design used wire, and all kinds of different sized buttons, like this pink button necklace here:

Pink Button Necklace
Pink Button Necklace

I haven’t stopped making necklaces in this style (you can see some of my current colour schemes in my necklace section here) but I have been experimenting with different ways to join buttons together to make jewellery – I’ve made button charm necklaces and bracelets using lots of buttons attached to chains (which are more jangly); long-length button necklaces which are reversible, so that as they move and flip over the necklace still looks good; tapered necklaces made with thick cord knotted strongly so that the buttons don’t turn over; and also some slim, lightweight button necklaces a bit like the one I first saw someone wearing.

Autumn Colours Slim Button Necklace
Autumn Colours Slim Button Necklace

The buttons in these necklaces are tiny and light, so they don’t need such a thick cord to keep them in place and stop them turning over. They are woven to stay in a straight line, using a strong but fairly thin nylon cord. They are made to rest gently on or just below the collarbone, and they’re especially good for people of more of a petite build. I’ve sometimes had requests in my bespoke button jewellery service for necklaces that are made with smaller buttons, because smaller people in chunky jewellery report sometimes feeling as though the necklace is wearing them, rather than the reverse. So now I’ve included these slimmer necklaces in my “regular” section. So far I only have a few colour schemes ready-made, but if you’d like a necklace like these in any other colours, I can make them with different coloured buttons as a bespoke order. These ones use silver-plated findings, but if sterling silver is more your things, that’s fine too – it just costs a little extra.

Earth and Stone Slim Button Necklace
Earth and Stone Slim Button Necklace