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Buttons business is booming for Julie.

Byline: Mary Griffin

COVENTRY designer Julia Gandy is making a statement with jewellery made from old buttons.

By collecting vintage buttons from old clothes and accessories and carefully matching the colours Julia creates stunning necklaces, bracelets and earrings and each one is completely unique.

After having two children Julia took on a three-year degree in jewellery and metalwork as a mature student at Coventry University.

She had struggled with dyslexia at school but graduated with firstclass honours.

But she says it was being a single mum with bills to pay that really got the creative juices flowing.

She said: "During my degree I was encouraged to do challenging work. But it wasn't very sellable.

"Needs must, and I needed to make some money so I had to come up with a way of putting my skills to a money making use.

"I had a tin of buttons hanging around that was my mums and I had to do something, so that's how it started." Recycled buttons made the perfect, low-cost material and Julia set up hOle, her button jewellery enterprise.

She said: "My grandparents had tins of buttons.

"Years ago everybody took buttons off everything but nowadays people aren't really encouraged to.

"I love them. They're such pretty little things. But they spend their lives in a tin if they're cut off and if not they're destined for landfill.

"They're a waste product.

"But they evoke a lot of memories in people.

"Lots of people who see the jewellery say they used to play with their grandma's buttons.

"Jewellery gives art a job. You take it round with you and it lifts your spirits and affects your outlook on life for that day.

"I did a lot of work on colour therapy and the effects different colours can have.

"And people always comment on the use of colours in the jewellery." Julia now leaves tins with charity shops, asking them to cut buttons off clothes before sending them to become rags.

She said: "If a charity shop sends their clothes abroad that's fine.

"But if they're not suitable they'll go for rags for carpet underlay or filling for mattresses, etc.

"I'm always asking people for buttons..

"If people have buttons they want to donate I can make them a piece of jewellery using buttons from their collection.

"There are people who collect vintage buttons but I'm interested in run-of-the-mill stuff and I take those buttons and couple them with other colours." She added: "The name hOle came about because I'm interested in the relationship between the button and the button hole..

"It all comes down to finding new ways to use things, new relationships.

"If a relationship breaks down one part has to find a new use for itself.

" That's how I see button jewellery." Julia's jewellery can be seen online at in Pride in Earlsdon High Street or in the Herbert Art Gallery shop..


UNIQUE DESIGNS... Julia Gandy creates unusual jewellery from recycled buttons.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 6, 2009
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