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Jewelry artist: Betsy Howard

Artist: Betsy Howard
Website: Betsy's Buttons

For years, I have scouted shell buttons in flea markets, second-hand and antiques stores and, more recently, online. Relatives, neighbors, and friends have all helped feed my interest over the decades. I have a particular fondness for nineteenth and early twentieth century carved shell buttons, as well as vintage and occasionally modern buttons of wood and horn. They reflect the styles of their eras, from nineteenth-century Eastlake style landscape buttons to bold geometric Art Deco buttons of the twentieth century. Many Victorian carved buttons seem to tell a story or set a scene in miniature; others have interesting shapes and colors.

In transforming carefully selected buttons into jewelry I set out to create pieces using my favorite buttons and the finest secondary materials I can find. I build each piece, often using two or three buttons, semi-precious stone beads, freshwater pearls, and then sew them all together with silk thread (the sewing helps preserve the integrity of each button). I mount them with sterling silver findings. When necessary, I drill the button to assure a secure fitting. Most of my pieces are one of a kind, all are individual.

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