Find a Button: Make Something

August 29, 2009

090819Necklace3Stone Left: Scan of a necklace made with waxed cotton, strung beads, a little bit of wire wrapping, and an antique button.

Even though it's Minnesota State Fair time not everyone can attend. (I can't attend today either.)

Well maybe you can have some fun making a little jewelry (which you can wear to the Fair when you can attend). Last week I was putting odds and ends away and found this neat antique button. (I have some friends that like to go shopping for antiques and when I go with them, since I'm not really interested in antiques, I always look for buttons and for old paper items—the latter because I love the way people solve graphics problems.)

I wanted to make something quick. I didn't want to take time to bead an entire necklace. Also I wanted the button to show at the front of the necklace. I found 3 left over flat stone beads. (Do you recognize the stone? If so write and identify it for me as I've lost my notes on it.)

With these materials gathered I quickly made this necklace by doing the following:

I made a wrapped loop at each end of the rectangular stone beads using 22-gauge gunmetal artistic wire. (There is a maroon 11/0 seed bead on each end as well.) The loop of the top wrap is very small, to just fit over some SoftTouch beading wire (incidentally this was a leftover segment of beading wire). The base loop of the wire wrapping is also small, but can be a little larger. It holds a dangle. The dangles were made by using a head pin and stringing a 11/0 maroon seed bead, 3 black glass discs, and another 11/0 seed bead; then making a wrapped loop which looped through the base loop of the stone beads.

Next I strung small black glass rounds alternating with 11/0 seed beads, until I got to where I wanted to place the rock beads and threaded the top loop on to the beading wire between two seed beads. Use bead stoppers or tape on the end of the stringing wire as you decide the length of this portion of the necklace. You don't want it too wide because you don't want to force that button to the back of your necklace.

At each end of the beading wire there is a crimp bead with a crimp bead cover between two of the black rounds. Thread the second to last black bead, the crimp, the last black round and then as many 15/0 seed beads as you need to make a comfortable loop before going back through that last black round, the crimp bead, and a couple additional previous beads. Crimp the crimp bead, add the crimp bead cover. Trim your stringing wire tail.

Before you finish off the other end you need to also string the beading wire through the button's shank, after you have put the 15/0 beads on, but before you have closed off the loop.

Once you have the front portion made you need to decide where you want it to hang on your neck and cut a piece of waxed cotton that will make up this length—cut a cord length that allows 2 to 3 extra inches so you can fold the waxed cotton ends over to make loops. (Loop size will vary depending on your button size.)

On one end of the wax cord make a loop that is large enough to loop over the button. At the base of this loop wrap the folded back cord with a 5 inch piece of 22-gauge wire. Trim the wire ends with the flush cutter and make sure that the first end is tucked under your wrap and the final wire end is pressed into your cord with your needle-nose pliers. Also trim the excess wax cord from the base of the wire wrapped section, of course being careful not to nick your working cord.

Insert the button end of the necklace's front portion into the corresponding loop and verify the necklace size by sight (trying it on) or measurement, and form your second smaller loop (on the right in the photo) on the other end of the cord, FIRST looping it through the beaded loop of your strung section. Tighten and trim wire and cord as you did for the other loop.

You're finished! It's that simple. I liked this so much that I pulled other buttons out. Together with other "leftovers" I made similar necklaces with different focal points. I also used sterling silver wire since I'd already worked out the "bugs" on the first necklace. Next time you have some leftover beads and buttons consider making a quick necklace like this.

Additional Options:
• Use leather cord or rubber cord instead of the waxed cotton.

• Braid or knot the back portion of the necklace with waxed Irish Linen thread. I suggest 4-ply or greater; thicker thread will change the look of your necklace and might work better if you have a longer necklace or larger/heavier beads.

• Instead of cord, create the back portion of the necklace by stringing beads just like you did for the front portion. Just make sure to loop two ends together before crimping (as on the right of this necklace). And on the other end of the back portion make sure your loop of beads will fit over your button before you crimp.

Don't forget to let me know if you recognize that stone!

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz,
    It is picture jasper. I saw strings of beads like this in Bali. Kicking myself for not buying them. I did buy the sodalite in that shape though, and the yellow jasper in a flat oval. These are lovely though. Even in a string, the colours and designs on them varied so much that each one was like a feature bead.

    • Jean Kuster - Salty Old Sails
    • November 13, 2009

    You are a genius,Roz! I have been looking all over for a secure way to finish off my synthetic rubber neck pieces. I am in the Caribbean and we can’t use real rubber as it rots here, ditto with cotton and leather. Also every ferrous metal rusts out as we are on the water. I can use any non-ferrous wire to do this!

    I’m a newbie at jewelry making. Thanks so much for saving me all the $$$ on findings! It’s esp. hard to buy a finding a dude won’t mind wearing. This solves that problem.

    I never check facebok cuz of the 80 mill reqs I’ll find, but will look u up if I ever go back. LOL

    • Roz
    • November 13, 2009

    Jean, thank you for your kind note. I’m so glad there is a solution here for you. I love saving people money too!

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