Posts Tagged ‘antique buttons’

There are many holiday craft shows happening all around the Bay Area but my favorite is coming up this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11th, 2016.

Featured are Sarah Durling and Nora Akino, two Berkeley artists who have quite a following among local collectors.

gvg_0393_smSarah is The Buttonist – she’s a collector of antique and vintage buttons which she fashions into bracelets, rings, pendants, and I hear now she’s making brooches!! Sarah’s pieces stand out for their elegant design and quality settings in sterling silver. Every year longtime customers add to their collections and often sport two or three bracelets at a time.



Nora also has an elegant aesthetic, designing and sewing silk scarves and quality bags of all sizes in silk and cotton. I have a small bag I wear around my neck to hold my eyeglasses in style and I love Nora’s added touch of using antique buttons. Customers collect her larger sizes for shopping bags. Such a great idea as more and more shoppers shift away from those environmentally-unfriendly plastic bags. What a unique holiday gift idea. In addition to accessories, Nora will show monotypes and paintings using traditional Japanese pigments. Ooo … I can’t wait to see.


This is a private sale in Berkeley but OverDressed for Life readers, you are invited!  Please e-mail info@noraakino.com for details. Or contact me at overdressedforlife@yahoo.com. We’ll fill you in. I hope to see you there.

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I think what really catches my fancy is the odd oval among the circles.

My friend, Sarah Durling (The Buttonist) makes stunning jewelry from antique and vintage buttons.

For a couple of years I had been perusing and pondering Sarah’s bracelets and although I tried on the smaller ones it was the large chunky ones that called out to me. Still, nothing seemed quite right … until now.

This last holiday season I found it! Large black and gray cut glass buttons set in sterling silver make my kind of elegant statement. Sarah told me that the buttons are a combination of Victorian and 1940s, which is apropos given that I like to mix eras. Additionally, she had just taken the bracelet out from the archives. (A little reminder that everything is timing.) One removed link and it fits my small wrist as if made just for me.

Sarah has been in business making jewelry out of buttons since 1996 and now has quite a following here and in England where she lives. Women collect her bracelets and wear several at a time creating their own signature look. In an article I wrote for Vintage Life about collecting buttons Sarah said, “Removing buttons from dusty boxes and drawers into a light where they can be seen is one of the greatest pleasures of what I do.”


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Breanna Bayba sporting her lovely button handbag. Photo: Richard Aiello.

Breanna Bayba sporting her lovely button handbag. Photo: Richard Aiello.

Getting together with the Art Deco Society crowd is always a treat for the eyes with everyone dressed in their vintage best. I particularly enjoy seeing creative combinations mixing decades and perhaps even adding one subtle modern piece.

At the recent Art Deco Society of California’s annual membership party (held at Schroeder’s Cafe in San Francisco) I spotted Breanna Bayba looking oh-so 20s chic in a simple drop-waist dress and scarf. What I admired most about her ensemble was a button-clad handbag.

IMG_2342Made of soft fabric, the handbag was covered with various shades of white mother-of-pearl buttons all sewn on by hand. The uniformity of button style keeps the look elegant and timeless, appropriate for a vintage party or a modern wedding.

Breanna told me the bag was a gift from her grandmother as she graciously turned it inside out indicating how easy it would be to make. Yes, but I say a lot of work! The buttons are precisely placed on both sides.

The use of buttons in this unexpected way gives a spark of individuality to Breanna’s outfit.

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Jewelry by The Buttonist. Bohemian Glass buttons from the 1920s to 1950s handset in sterling silver.

The Buttonist, Sarah Durling, will be showing her wonderful button jewelry this Sunday, December 2nd at the Alameda Point Antique Faire, booth C-23.

Sarah collects antique and vintage buttons from around the world and designs bracelets, pendants, rings, and earrings. Handset into sterling silver, each piece is one-of-a-kind.

Among the many fans of The Buttonist is Michelle Obama. Sarah designed a special bracelet for our stylish First Lady. Read all about it on The Buttonist Blog.

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Sarah (she’s here from England) and see new pieces created for the holiday season.

Can’t make it? Not to worry, there’s a website.


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Antique buttons set in sterling silver designed by The Buttonist Sarah Durling.

I had the best time chatting with Sarah Durling, a Berkeley native, antique button collector, and designer of jewelry made with buttons. Plus, she now lives in England … oh my gosh, all my favorite things. 

We met at Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley on a chilly autumn day. Over hot tea Sarah told me all about her button collecting and jewelry making.

Click here to read Sarah’s story.

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