Button It Up: 80 Amazing Vintage Button Projects for Necklaces, Bracelets, Embellishments, Housewares, and More Paperback – Mar 3 2009
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About the Author
A jewelry designer and writer, Susan Beal blogs at westcoastcrafty.com. Susan is the author of many craft books, including Bead Simple, Button It Up, and Hand-stitched Home. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Love buttons, but aren't familiar with jewelry making techniques? No fear here-the introduction to Button it Up covers all the basic skills. Materials such as wire, chain, glues and findings are all discussed in a very straightforward manner, so you can feel very confident flipping to a project you want to try out and knowing that the resources you need to be successful in your project are right there in the book. As someone who hasn't messed around with jewelry making since I was a teenager, I'm very grateful that this instructional section is so thorough.
But it's not all jewelry-there's something fabulous for any maker who loves vintage buttons. There are chapters devoted to both "Housewares" and "Accessories, Embellishments and Gifts." Since a number of the vintage buttons I acquired are singletons, these projects are great because they mostly don't require matched sets of buttons, as do a number of the jewelry projects (although, in fairness, you don't need matched buttons for the jewelry projects and quite a few are pendants, etc, that don't need multiples).
As I was looking through the book, I was struck by something else, something more practical: The projects in Button it Up are extremely accessible from a financial perspective. I own a lot of craft books-mostly sewing, printmaking and funky DIY-type books. Looking through a lot of those books, many are not particularly sensitive to the costs of the projects, and have a fairly high cover price. It's not something that I've really thought about before, but given the current financial landscape, there's something appealing on a very practical level about an inspiring book that helps empower you to create with what you have. Not only is the cover price of Button it Up very reasonable ($21.95 list), but there are 80 projects in this freaking thing. 80! That's 27 cents a project. And looking through the supplies you need, these are items you may already own-if you're a button collector or a sewer/sewist who tends to pick up a card of buttons here are there to have on hand-or can easily find at rummage sales and thrift stores and in the bulk jars at your independent fabric retailer; the things you may need to purchase are basic, easy-to-locate, inexpensive items like glues and wire.
All-in-all, Button it Up is a unique craft book that's a real winner.
I've admited before that I don't have much of a button collection. It's expanded a bit since the CRAFT Release Party back in June, when I ended up with the remains of the picked over buttons we'd provided for the craft project (Which, incidentally, was from Susan's previous book, Bead Simple) but I'm still a few rounds shy of a respectible collection.
That may need to change ... quickly. I've become enamoured with the projects in Button It Up enough that I'm starting to get the button itch in a big way.
Oooooh! So pretty!
Let's talk astehtics. Like Bead Simple, Button It Up is simply and beautifully designed. Pictures are gorgeous, illustrated instructions are easy to follow, and it's a book that's as much fun to flip through an ogle as it is to sit down and work from. If you're someone who's easy to swoon at the sight of colorful vintage button goodness, grab a paper towel 'cause you're going to be sent to drooling the minute you lay eyes on this book.
But what about the details?
Button It Up isn't just beautiful, it's incredibly informative as well. The introduction chapter is a "Vintage Button Primer" and gives a rich history of these fascinating fasteners. (sorry, couldn't resist) Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from this chapter:
"Buttons became tiny canvases to display exquisite art or artistry, tell a story, or reflect on an event or an exciting new trend in politics, literature, fashion or society."
(from the section on The First Golden Age)
"In the 1860s, young women in the United States collected buttons on a string... The superstition was that when a woman's string numbered 999 or 1,000 buttons, her true love would appear. Another version says that upon a woman's engagement or marriage, her husband-to-be would add the thousandth (final) button to complete her charm string."
I defy anyone to read through this chapter without becoming insanely interested in buttons. These few pages alone gave me an incredible appreciation for buttons and left me really excited to see how Susan and the guest contributors used them in the book.
Aside from the primer chapter, the book is filled with a beautiful variety of projects from home dec items, to jewlery to gifts. Most are in the easy to medium category of difficulty, and most seem to be doable in a short amount of time (big points for that!)
Susan, Susan, Susan! Who else can I fawn over?
There are loads of great contributors in this book. I was so happy to see projects from Diane Gilleland, Christina Loft, Jennifer Perkins, Linda Permann, Cathy Callahan, Amy Karol, Leah Kramer and more. Each crafter brings a great new flavor to the book, and leaves the final product very well-rounded.
Right, we get it. You love the book. What else?
More than anything, I'm constantly impressed with Susan's prolific ideas and energy. When I first met Susan last summer in Portland, she was toting her beautiful daughter, Pearl, in one hand, and the proof pages for this book in the other. I was dumbfounded. As a mother of two, I sometimes don't even get a shower every day, let alone find time to write books. And yet not only does Susan write books, blog, freelance, cheer on the Blazers and parent a beautiful child, but she does it all really well. And she does everything with a kindness and sincerety that's hard to come by.
The "Look Inside" feature will show the terrific design of the book, but unfortunately not much of the projects or the attention to detail (I'm thinking now of how the buttons for one bracelet are sewn together, then glued, with the stitching as a little extra accent). Susan's blog ([...]) lets you look at the project layout which will help you decide on if this book is for you. This book will make us all into button collectors!