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Belt buckles are funny things.  Almost all of us wear them or at least encounter them on a daily basis. Yet belt buckles may be the most overlooked and frequently dismissed creative vehicle in the metals field.


Consider the broad associations made with belt buckles: Where a buckle is worn on the body and the type or style of buckle can be a visual/cultural cue: Pilgrim = Buckle (on shoes, belts and hats). The oversized Western buckle immediately conjures another quintessential American icon; it can imply political inclination or affiliation and has been carried to extremes of size and iconography in satire.  Rock & roll and hip- hop buckles communicate a life style imagined or aspired to; the trucker buckle broadcasts its own message of bravado and, in some circumstances, sexism.   The Gucci logo on a buckle says something very specific about who the wearer considers themselves to be and with what group they wish to be associated.


Belt buckles-- distilled from the brooch-- were, in the Middle Ages, a significant piece of personal adornment.  Most clothing did not have pockets, so the buckle served as a functional utility belt, holding needles, keys, etc.  An evolution of this was the chatelaine worn by the lady of the manner and which held keys, scissors and other tools for running the household.   While not purely a buckle, a modern (and campy) extension of this is Batman’s Utility Belt from the television series.  Carpenters and builders also wear utility belts (although these, again, are belts rather than simply buckles).


A buckle can be a billboard, conveying information about personal preferences, membership in a special club or organization and social identification.  It can make a bold statement or force an interaction.  It can be ironic.  An elegant buckle can be worn to mark a special occasion. And sometimes (perhaps most important)… a buckle can be just a beautiful way to hold up your pants.


When deciding to make a buckle, you can design one:

·for a special occasion or to commemorate an event.

·to dress up an outfit.

·to communicate a specific idea, opinion or narrative.


Belt buckles fall into several categories.  Among them:

            ·the utility or functional buckle that contains a tool or device.

            ·container or hidden compartment buckle

·the communication or “billboard buckle” that conveys a message or logo.

            ·the commemorative or membership buckle.

            ·the formal or dress buckle.

            ·the everyday or casual buckle


Consider approaching the design through:

            ·personal logos, icons or symbols—how about developing an icon?

·the zen of designing a buckle that will serve the basic function but in an

unexpected way.

            ·deconstructing  a buckle or paring it down to the basics.

            ·the exploration of a concept:  What do buckles mean, signify or imply?

            ·the history/historical importance of the buckle.    



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