Spring Celebration -- Alterity Buttons!

For my first feature as part of the Spring Celebration I would like to focus your attention on Alterity Button Jewelry and Gifts who just so happens to be a dear bloggy friend of mine. She makes the most amazing creations using vintage/antique buttons for a retro yet modern look. I was the very lucky winner of one of her blog contests last year and so I have my very own button pendant made with a mother of pearl vintage button. Getting one of her pieces is like owning a piece of history and I love to imagine what former life my button has led.

The pendant above, valued at $25, is the one you could possibly win in the Spring Celebration Giveaway. The pendant will be presented on a light blue braided cord necklace with a button closure.It was so hard picking out a few of her pieces to showcase here since she has over 8 pages of gorgeous items. Her Etsy shop literally has something for every taste. She has bracelets, earring, brooches, pendants, rings, bookmarks, pouches, and more. I think this All Stacked Up bracelet/anklet would be the perfect Spring accessory. The Primary Flower brooch showcases her tatting skills as well. Finally, the Bakelite Cherry n Butterscotch Adjustable ring below I chose because I love the colors and Bakelite has always appealed to me in that retro/ modern way.
I asked Lisa to answer a few questions about her process and inspirations that I thought you might find interesting. The great thing about Lisa is that she is so willing to share what she has learned about running a handmade business on her blog. She doesn't hold back about mistakes she's made or keep her discoveries to herself. She treats her business like a business and even holds weekly staff meetings with herself which I find amazing. Here is what she had to say:

1. Why buttons and what does no harm techniques mean?
I have loved buttons ever since Grandma Meyerhoefer introduced me to her button tin when I needed something to play with at her house. I was about 8 and the love never went away. I found the National Button Society about 10 years ago which opened the door to collecting actual antique buttons instead of the vintage plastic ones you find in button tins. Antique buttons (buttons made before 1918) are a rare find in a button tin.

Being all about the buttons, it didn't take me long before I started toying with working buttons into jewelry. However, being a society member, I had to come up with a way to work buttons into jewelry without harming the buttons. This is where No Harm Techniques comes in. I am not trying to belittle fellow artisans, but when you take an antique button that's worth $25 and damage it in any way (cut off the shank, glue it to something, drill a hole in it) you are drastically decreasing the monetary and historical value of that button. It's like taking a Hummel, breaking off the arm, gluing it back on, then selling it for an undamaged worth. It is actually a very sensitive subject in the button collecting world. Damaged buttons in jewelry are worth nothing more than the scrap brass they are made of. Now, if you take that same $25 button and incorporate it into jewelry without harming it, the button doesn't lose it's value. It took me a long time to figure out how to work buttons in without damaging them and using no harm techniques takes a little bit more creativity and time. To see for yourself, take a button with a shank and make an artistic piece so that the button doesn't flop all over without harming it. It's really difficult! I sell mostly to the button collecting crowd all over the world. I also do a lot of custom work where button collectors will send me their buttons to work into jewelry without harming them. I do try to educate fellow artisans on the value of using buttons without harming them. If you do use really old buttons in your pieces, try to educate yourself on what you have. The National Button Society is a great place to start!

2. How long have you been selling your work and what venues do you use?
I have been selling online as a legal business for over 2 years now. I sell mainly on Etsy, but also participate in local craft shows. I have a weekly gig at the town market where I live from May through October. I represent myself as a member of the Chamber of Commerce at that sale since I don't have a brick and mortar store. Before that, I sold oil paintings and watercolors at art shows since 1987. My acquired love for buttons sort of stole me away from the art world. I do still paint a little, but usually just give them away to family.
3. What advice do you wish you were told before starting your business?
Simple - don't settle for anything less than an EZ tent and that it was going to take me at least 2 years to learn how to photograph jewelry!

4. How do you promote your work?
So far, I use EntreCard, Facebook, Twitter, lots of renewing listings on Etsy (if that counts as advertising) as well as various other forms of online sites.

See the contest rules here to find out how you could win your own Alterity creation!


Ann said...

I visit her blog all the time. Not only is she a great blogger but she makes some amazing pieces

Anonymous said...

I love Lisa- she's so great! And I actually had no idea about the no harm button techniques thing. I'm going to look into that...not that I use antique buttons...but, it is very interesting!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Very artistic pieces with these buttons.

WillOaks Studio said...

Great story, Paige!! I've really enjoyed her work and her blog too--her things are so unique!! congrats, Lisa!!

Duni said...

I admire Lisa's work, especially her chokers. I appreciate her philosophy on antique buttons and implementing the 'no harm' technique.

Waterrose said...

Great interview and one of my favorite shops and bloggers!

Anonymous said...

Paige -

I simply have to comment a word of thanks for such a great interview!!!

Cheers! :)

CastoCreations said...

Oh I LOVE her work. Isn't she talented. :)


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