Introducing our 2016 | 2017 Line!
As we introduce our 31st collection of jewelry created with antique buttons, we thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how our new collections come to life. Most jewelry designers begin with a sketch pad and a list of currently popular trends and colors. We are a bit different: our design process begins with a hunt!
When we are in New York for the gift market, we rummage through old Garment District warehouses, street flea markets, and antique malls for hidden caches of dead stock buttons and vintage glass cabochons. We track down any Internet leads for button collections or Art Deco glass stones. We research tiny workshop factories in the Czech Republic that can recreate beautiful luster glass buttons using a 200-year-old process.
Anna succumbs to fatigue while hunting in the Garment District
In early February, just after the winter gift markets, we bring the bounty of our hunt literally “to the table” in our design room, and begin to group them by color and style. We especially enjoy mixing eras and materials in this process: our favorite new pieces are colorful bracelet/necklaces that combine Victorian brass buttons with 1920s Bohemian glass stones, Occupied Japan glass cabochons, new Czech glass buttons and opalescent Swarovski crystals. We don’t know of another company that brings you that many eras of design history in one piece of jewelry!
At this point, we begin to incorporate brass filigree stampings from our huge collection, as well as metal castings we have made specifically for us with holes in the back so that we can leave the shanks on our antique buttons, thereby preserving their value. This part is a bit like a puzzle: we are always looking for new, ingenious ways to combine buttons and findings (believe us, after 30 years this gets harder and harder!). Susan is our main designer, but everyone else contributes as well, in particular Corda, Pam and Renee, who will also be in charge of making the jewelry once it’s officially on the line!
Once the designs are finally set (this usually takes two to three months), Melissa begins the laborious process of ordering the hundreds of pieces and parts needed to create everything. Susan and Kristy itemize the cost of every single bead and jump ring used on each piece on our costing worksheets, while Anna begins to photograph it all for our website.
Creating our catalog is the last part of this process. Anna and Charlotte develop the catalog concept, schedule the model photo shoot, and work with Susan and Kristy on the interior layout. Anna does all of the photography and graphic design. We are so proud of our catalogs: we feel they are powerful branding tools because we tell our story visually with the use of antique and vintage props, as well as vintage clothing on the models.
All in all, it takes about five months, from January through May, for us to create a new line. And every year, even after three decades of working with buttons, we can’t wait to get started!