In 2022, RANI & REINE had been in business for under a year. We were on the lookout for a button maker, because our original source for hand carved horn buttons was not traceable to the makers.

A button maker in jaipur

Singha Bahadur drills button holes in a heart shaped bone button. Jaipur, January 2023.

We knew we wanted a collaborative partnership with a skilled button maker, which would reflect the existing partnerships we had with other artisans and organizations. We were also looking for buttons made with interesting materials that were natural, biodegradable, and preferably zero waste.

Our wish: each button should be a tiny piece of art, that is also ecological and sustainably made. 

After some initial hunting around Delhi and a little research, we were introduced to Chirangivi, a button maker in Jaipur. We contacted him first in April 2022.

Button maker from Jaipur

Chirangivi (Chairu) shows off some of his hand carved products in his office in Jaipur. January 2023.

After a multitude of phone calls and a barrage of photos of button designs, hairpins, needles cases, buckles, necklaces, spoons, shawl pins and more, we ordered some samples. Once they arrived, we were enthralled with the beauty of the various wood grains, the polished sheen of the horn, and the precision and intricacy of the carving.

A button maker in Jaipur

Singha Bahadur making heart shaped bone buttons in Chairu's workshop. Jaipur, January 2023.

Chairu Buttons and Handicraft, Ltd. was established in 2011, after Chairu had spent 18 years in the industry in Nepal. He works with bone, horn, wood, bamboo, and coconut shell, crafting not only thousands of buttons with a team of carvers, turners and buffers, but also baby rattles, hairpins, knitting needles, thimbles, paper knives; a literal multitude of souvenirs and handicrafts. If it can be carved, Chairu can make it. He currently employs 8 artisans in his Jaipur Workshop.

A button buffer in a jaipur workshop

Manju Devi buffs rectangular horn buttons on a buffing machine. Jaipur, January 2023.

Chairu’s favourite materials to work with are horn and bone. He is also currently  experimenting with colour in coconut shell, and he loves to work with rosewood, black ebony wood and sheesham (sesame) wood, which is rich brown in colour. He also works with guava and karma wood, which are both light coloured woods.

Cow, Buffalo and Camel bone is collected from different parts of India, from animals that have died a natural death (old age, illness, traffic accidents), as well as from the food industry.

Bone used to make buttons and handicrafts

Chairu shows off pieces of bone and horn ready to be carved into various handicrafts such as buttons and beads. Jaipur, January 2023.

Coconut shell mainly comes from South India. Raw tablets, which are small pre-cut pill shaped discs in various diameters and thicknesses, are purchased from suppliers before being carved and formed into buttons.

Coconut button tablets

A carved motif which has been burned into horn button tablets, ready to be made into buttons. Jaipur, January 2023. 

Our newest collection features buttons carved by Chairu's team in Jaipur. Pairing the texture of handmade cloth with hand carved button motifs and specific materials has been a wonderful creative journey. We have added polished domed horn buttons to our Smock Dresses, and our newest ruffle smock dress. (coming soon)

To one of our newest designs, the Painter's Smock, we asked for hand carved coconut buttons that mirror the texture of the wonderfully slubby handwoven fabrics. This new shirt dress will be launched on February 3, 2024 at BOTHO in Tübingen, and online in late February/early March. 

handwoven cotton shirt dresses with handcarved buttons

handwoven shirt dress with hand carved buttons

The Painter's Smock - a shirt dress made with textured handwoven fabrics in off-white, brown stripe and black, adorned with hand carved coconut buttons from Chairu's workshop. Tübingen, January 2024. 

We also carry a selection of Chairu's goods in our Brick and Mortar shop in Tübingen, as well as some needle boxes, darning supplies, shawl pins and other hand carved goods. 

hand carved wooden goods from Jaipur

A selection of hand carved wooden goods from Chairu's workshop in Jaipur - clockwise from left: Owl and Fish screw top boxes, a darning mushroom and darning egg, a hair pin with a carved bird, a simple shawl pin, a comb style hairpin, and an ornately carved shawl pin. Tübingen, January 2024. 

If you'd like to read more about Chairu and his work, please watch out for our two part blog post, which we'll be publishing in February 2024.