Maker Nicole Ibey of Walden, Vermont is the creator behind our gorgeous collection of Handmade Metal Buttons.
Tell us a little about yourself—what got you into making? What made you decide to start your own business?
I am Nicole Ibey. I live on a beautiful piece of land in Walden, Vermont with my ever expanding fur-family. Ever since I can remember, I have always created. I come from a maker family, so there were always materials around to experiment with and turn into some kind of “thing”. A creative mind was certainly encouraged in my family. As I got older I continued to go the creative route. I went to school for fine jewelry design and was certified as a bench jeweler. I worked in this industry for many years … bored of sitting at a bench day in day out, pretty uninspired by requested designs, and my conscience did not feel so good about all the practices of this industry; I left the fine jewelry industry. I wandered around landscaping for a bit until working for myself. I would commission art jewelry pieces and have a say about where materials were sourced. During this process I began my electro-etching experimenting and my idea to make buttons came a few years later!
Do you feel you have a particular style in your designs? How would you describe them?
All of my designs for my buttons are based on patterns based in the natural world. They may have a sense of geometric repetition to them, but they are organic in nature. I suppose nature is based on math and patterns, so you would be able to find repetition and pattern no matter how organic!
Tell us a little about your creative process—where do your ideas come from?
In 2004, I met Stormy the dog when I moved to Oregon. I didn’t realize at the time I was meeting my best friend of my lifetime. She was about 4 years old and needed a home. Well, I needed a friend. We were a match. I helped Stormy and Stormy helped me so much more. She opened up an amazing natural world to me. She would take me on wonderful hikes and during those hikes I would take picture after picture. Some of the scenery, but mostly macros of textures and patterns. Years went by. Twelve great years, collecting these pictures. So many amazing adventures with Stormy. Those pictures have inspired many of the patterns for my etchings. And with each one, I have an amazing memory with Stormy and create a lasting memory in metal. To this day, Stormy is still my muse. Now, Evy and Luna (generation two of the wandering dogs) take me on hikes.
Do you have a favorite kind of material to work with? What do you like most about working with this material?
I don’t think I do have a material I prefer over another. One day I might love copper, another day I might be really into the buttery tones of brass. I really enjoy applying patinas naturally, without using any commercial chemicals. It takes time, but the results are stunning. I think it is the surprise factor. To leave it to rest at night and then to look the next morning and to see what has happened. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I want to go and take a peek.
Is there a craft that interests you that you haven’t tried yet?
I would really like to experiment with intaglio printmaking. I feel like I have always leaned more towards sculptural art in my life and would like to go more towards the flat realm to challenge myself. Etching has been my first step into that flat world.
Is there anything else you would like to say about creating the Handmade Metal Buttons?
When I create, I am always thinking of longevity. That is why metal intrigues me. As metals like copper, brass, and bronze age and patina, they become more beautiful over time. Metal buttons lend themselves a great addition to a handmade garment that is going to be worn for years. I like to think my buttons are adding a finishing touch to a masterpiece that someone else has created. A joint creation in a sense. When someone has taken so much time and effort to create such a beautiful garment, they shouldn't be putting generic buttons on such a thoughtfully crafted piece of clothing.