Smashin' Buttons

I began smashing buttons one spring day in 2010 when I was angry and frustrated. Sitting on my workbench was a worthless bag of vintage metal buttons. I had been trying unsucessfully to sell them on Etsy, no one wanted to buy them. So I decided to just smash the whole bag, I had nothing to lose.


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So I smashed and smashed, with my hammers, with the claws, with a ball peen. On some, the plating peeled off, others turned out to be plastic, but quit a few became much more interesting. Especially the solid brass ones and the hollow filigree ones. I was pretty happy with this little experiment

Maybe that’s what we need these days, to pound some character into all of the slick stuff we have around our homes. (hummm, now that’s an idea, ugh oh!)
I found it very satisfying to smash and flatten these hollow objects. I can't explain why.  Once sufficiently smooshed, I decided to pound them on one side only so that they would be slightly concave like little flowers, then I layered 2-3 buttons in a stack and riveted them together.
I took these to a workshop at Anderson Ranch to show to my teacher Bob Ebendorf. He and the other students really liked my smashed button idea and encouraged me to make more.
So I went home made those charms into my first smashed button necklace.
I started making more things but I was running out of buttons. The little bags of 50 or 100 I was buying weren't lasting long. I needed more, lots more. My big coup came when I found a Button Seller. She had about 10,000 buttons. I bought the whole lot.
















So now, I create handmade jewelry with vintage and antique buttons.  These pieces have what I call a "Gypsy Steampunk"style: exotic and elaborate in a heavy metal sort of way.


All designs and images © copyright Christine Marie Davis 2010-2012
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 I have to thank Bob Ebendorf whose guidance and workshops have been invaluable and whose enthusiam is contagious. And to Sabra Sowell-Lovejoy who taught me how to smash and bash metal without reservation. Her method involves no fuss, no fancy tools, and no refined techniques, just have at it with whatever old hammer you have around.






 







16 comments:

  1. I find this quite fascinating and your jewelry quite beautiful!

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  2. Love your smashed jewelry! And isn't it amazing how frustration can lead to brilliant creativity. Keep up the great work!

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  3. Thank you Rejoyce and Cate. Yes tapping frustration can lead to breakthroughs.

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  4. You've come a long way baby! I envy your freedom. (to smash) LOL! Love the new pieces...

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  5. Your jewelry is interesting and attractive, but as a button collector, it saddens me to see those wonderful brassies being smashed up :-( I hope you'll consider saving at least the old Victorian beauties and offering them in your shop again.

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  6. Stunning and so creative! What an awesome idea... love it!

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  7. Missed your class at the Bead Society bead show. Any other classes in the future?

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  8. Christine, I love your jewelry. Do you know where I would find a good source to learn how to rivet the items together...easily. Thanks

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    1. I am curious how you rivet them as well. great creative idea....but I, too, hope the very old ones are spared from the hammer!!!

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  9. I am doing a report on your technique for a school jewelry class and I just wanted to say that your work is amazing and very cool. I also used your technique to sketch a design where I cut out the centers of the buttons and stacked them, this would mean you could see through to the other button below or you could do a stack of centerless ones and create a sort of donut to but on a bracelet or necklace. Just an idea... Thank you!

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  10. Saw your smashed necklace from a post I got from crafter Mark Montano. This necklace is something I would wear! I appreciate your creativity...
    thanks for sharing
    Ecocentrik

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  11. I think your buttons are amazing!!! I use buttons in my handmade jewelry and you have given me some great ideas for new designs. Can you tell me how you rivet them together? Thanks!!!

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  12. I make things with smashed buttons too! I would post a photo, if I could.... I love your pieces! I love the look of mixed, weathered metals! Girl after my own heart!

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  13. This is fabulous! I make simple button jewelry but haven't yet gotten into smashing. Going to get my hammer right now! THANK YOU for posting and sharing your process!

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  14. I use buttons a lot, especially vintage and metal ones, but I never thought to smash them before using them in my charm bracelets. This looks like fun, thank you for sharing!

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