|The Bead Alternative;
Using Beads for Buttons
by Janet Rehfeldt
In working with designing you tend to get bored quite quickly with using the same styles and finishing techniques. I found that I was looking at the same buttons over and over on sweaters and jackets that not only I had designed but also what I was seeing in the stores as well. Then one day I visited a bead shop with a friend and suddenly the images and designs popping into my head became endless.
Just a few of the questions I had to answer before applying the idea of using the beads in place of buttons were, “How can you possibly use beads for buttons and expect them to stay put in the button hole?” and “There's no shank, the bead is too large, how can you attach it? ”
The first thing you learn is which beads you are able to sew on like a button with no problem and which beads you have to make shanks for before you can sew them on. The second thing you learn is that you do not make your button hole as large as you would for a button.
Beads like pony beads, pearls, small glass or wooden beads up to about 5 or 6 mm do not pose a problem regardless of being round or square. The bead is sewn on in the same manner as a button with the button hole slightly smaller than you would normally use.
Beads like the large 8 to 12 mm lampwork beads or enameled beads need to have a shank added. You also have to add shanks to odd shaped beads like cylinders, triangles, hearts, fish or teapots. Yes, I actually found and used glass beads shaped like fish and teapots. There are two methods that I like to use.
The first allows the bead to hang. I improvise a metal shank,
by using a heavy wire through the bead
with a stop at the bottom of the bead and forming a loop at the top.
Jewels! A few months ago, I
received an email from Jane Rizzo, a teacher in Massachusetts asking for
a donation of beads for her students. I was definitely interested
and the information sent to me, along with some beautiful jewelry was so
delightful I thought it must be shared!
Varnum Elementary School is located in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. In this MicroSociety® School, students learn about the real world. They work in a business and are paid school currency (Varnums). Students are governed by their peers. Goods are sold in their marketplace once a month as students learn more about supply and demand. This year, one of the teachers facilitated a business called "Jazzy Jewels" and this is where the beads from Eclectic Etc., Inc. were put to use.
A few weeks ago, I received a package from the Jazzy Jewelers at Varnum Elementary and what they sent me is what I am sharing here! The heart pin on the top right adorns my jacket. I get lots of compliments on it too! The necklace to the right is certain to become my favorite! I wore it at a Valentine party at our local library where I volunteer my time with children, and it was a big hit! All the kids wanted to make their own! The photograph shows Mayra and Meredith making some Jazzy Jewelry!
I also received a giant card made by the jewelry artists and signed by each one of the students! This was both a wonderful experience for the children, and myself!