Handmade Button Jewellery at The Spotty Zebra

Friday, 23rd June 2017

Have you ever liked a certain button so much you could wear it on a necklace or bracelet?

Lizzy Bailey had the same love of buttons and started a business making and selling statement button jewellery pieces.

We caught up with Lizzy, whose business is called The Spotty Zebra and asked her some questions about herself and her work.

What’s your background?
I have always been creative and a magpie and interested particularly in making jewellery. As a child I collected beads and made jewellery for myself using scrap wire. I went to University to study English and Education and when I was a student I taught myself properly how to make beaded jewellery, using books and internet resources. But with a huge button collection and a love of all things brightly coloured and quirky, I became determined to use buttons in my creations. 10 years of experimenting and learning lots more techniques, and the chunky statement necklace - the piece I am most known for - was created.

When did you start The Spotty Zebra?

I started The Spotty Zebra as a quirky online store selling vintage clothing and my handmade jewellery in 2010. In that time, it has grown and evolved to become a business purely revolving around my unique button jewellery.

Why do you do what you do?

Because I love it. I am always learning new jewellery making techniques, which in turn gives me new ideas for more designs. I get a real thrill from creating one of a kind pieces from new and old buttons alike and I just love seeing the wonder and fascination on people's faces when they see my work; it never fails to put a smile on their faces.

Who’s your favourite artist?

I am very varied in my taste in art! I love the warm romance, and the darkness in the work by Jack Vetriano, particularly in Lovers and other Strangers. When in the North East at university I became interested in graffiti and I still enjoy the work by Maya Hayuk and artists known as Miss Van and Bue the Warrior. I am very lucky where I live in that we have many very talented artists who's work I enjoy: I just love the folky style of Chloe Rodenhurst and how she incorporates well known local places and views.

What gives you inspiration?

I take inspiration from all around me. Mostly it is colour combinations - I love trying out new and unusual combinations. My mum grows flowers, so I take a lot from them. Otherwise, I take it directly from the buttons themselves, especially when I am working with old buttons and creating the one-off pieces. I also have a paint colour chart that I throw buttons on to, to try out new combinations.
I am also a huge fan of modern pin up and the glamour, femininity and style of the 50s. I follow a lot of modern pin up models on Instagram and try to design pieces that I can imagine them wearing. Sometimes I am inspired by outfits they have posted about.

What’s your favourite thing you’ve created?

That's a difficult question as I love all my pieces! Recently I made a delicate red and turquoise set with delicately patterned buttons and genuine turquoise beads that I was particularly fond of.

What are your favourite colours to work with?

I love all bright colours. I find I go through phases: I'll spend a couple of weeks mostly working in greens and blues and then swap to working with lots of red and purples. I love to put colours together you wouldn't expect to see - one of my most popular combinations for a statement necklace is bright red and pink. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that any colours can go together, as long as they are the right tone.

Which medium would you love to pursue but haven’t?

I started work on a range incorporating felt and fabric with the buttons but haven't had the time to develop it very far yet. I also crochet and would like to develop a range with that too.

What’s the first artwork you ever sold?

Back when I was a student, my partner took some of the beaded jewellery I had made in to his work to show his colleagues. I remember specifically some earrings made with glass and hematite beads in the shape of stars. I still actually use those star beads! It was an amazing feeling to see that people liked my creations enough to buy them.

What do you do when you’re not being artistic?

I have two gorgeous children, a horse, a dog and two cats to keep me entertained!

When did your love of buttons start?

Like many others did - as I have discovered from talking to people at fairs - spending hours as a child studying and sorting the contents of my mother's button tin! I've always been a bit of a magpie and hoarded buttons and beads since I can remember. Turns out I take after my mum - she recently confessed that when her brothers and sisters spent their pocket money on sweets, she went to the hardware shop and bought small pieces of polished glass.

What are you working on next?

My next projects are setting up a shop on Amazon Handmade to run alongside my website and Etsy shop, and organising some classes in jewellery making and other crafts at my studio in my hometown of Aberaeron. As for the creating, I have some completely new designs in the pipeline for 2017, and am looking forward to the quieter time in January and February to get stuck in to them!

If you are itching to get your hands on Lizzy's beautiful creations, visit her website where you can see and buy her work.

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