Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Hollow Brass Rings and their Replacement - What to make your Dorset Buttons on now!

It's been a tumultuous few months here at Beaker Button. In August we were told that the hollow brass rings we'd been teaching on, and using in our kits, were possibly being discontinued. After an initial mad panic I did a lot of researching online, phoning companies and generally making a nuisance of myself to try an find a replacement. I had long conversations on the phone with the company I bought my brass rings from and explained that without them Dorset button making was in peril. In November we were told that they were, despite our best efforts, foot stamping, pleading, praying to the Gods of brass etc., going to be discontinued.

In my long searching I came across a Chinese wholesaler of rings, and they were willing to make to order within reason and had lots of very nice fine rings in a zinc alloy and a copper alloy.

copper alloy Dorset button rings

zinc alloy Dorset button rings

All the other people I'd spoken to couldn't reassure me that the rings they sold were washable, but I knew that the zinc alloy rings were as they're made from the same stuff that my small rings are from and they wash fine. After breathing a huge sigh of relief I ordered a largish shipment and crossed my fingers. When they arrived I was delighted with them, and have been teaching with them, putting them in my mixed pack Dorset button kits and selling them online with great success.  I've even designed new jewellry kits with them.

Bifrost Necklace in the new rings

They are not perfectly round, but for me that adds to the appeal. They are closer to the type of rings the original 18th and 19th button makers would have used. I've now added some fabulous flat, large rings to the collection and I'm busy redesigning or remaking kits with them.

Flat large rings 

The brooches in green below are made with the new flat rings, the mauve brooch under that was made with the old hollow brass rings. Over the next few weeks the old rings will gradually be replaced with the fine and flat new rings in our kits.


I thought I would have to settle with something new and that I'd miss the brass rings but I'm loving working with the new ones. I hope you like the new rings as much as me.