I love buttons.
'The old and chipped,
the coloured, the plain,
the odd and ugly,
and of course,
the handmade'. *
I think every family has a 'button box' that has been handed down through the generations, to either be added to or taken from.
I remember sitting with my nan in the kitchen, a cup of black tea and a piece of late night toast in front of us, going through her button box.
Sometimes, while the grownups were in the kitchen nattering, I would sit quietly in her lounge room, just digging through those buttons.
Sorting them onto the carpet, first by colour, then by size.
Then mix them all up and do it again.
Such childlike delight!
It's funny, isn't it?
Those moments of us talking, sharing, eating, drinking, Xmas dinners, and holidays, are like snapshots in time, based around a box of buttons.
Thinking about all of this, it is hardly surprising that I possess a high regard for these round little treasures.
the days I head out with Kel and our mum, to scour the op shops and recycling centres, it always holds the promise of a great 'find'.
'I dig and prod and poke around,
hitting the spots where no one goes,
under the shelves and on the ground,
and there they sit, all alone.
Please take us, they say with their eyes,
our only friend has been .... Mr Glass Jar,
I can't bear to bid them 'good bye',
so, a dollar is paid and then home in the car'.
The glass jar is the added bonus, as I am a bower bird with those too.
Kel and I have way too many.
In our defence, they do have a good home with us.
They make interesting little ornaments, vases, & hold alls for our crafty bibs and bobs.
Not forgetting, our family, friends and guests always become a wee bit interested, when they see them.
They sit in neat little clusters, all along our kitchen cupboard tops and on the window sill.
Back to the button box!
Part one of the story is
Part two is,
'what to do with them ?'
After settling down, from our outing, we introduce them to the others,
where they sit getting to know each other.
Until, one of us comes along, feeling and looking around to find the perfect ones for our new creation.
The ever so personal relationship between button and item, is unique in each circumstance.
We invest a great deal of time and a huge amount of love into every item we make.
It is often the simplest detail that means whether our creation will be sold to a loving home, or if it will remain shelved for a while longer.
Details are important!
Meaning the button is important!
If you have been reading my blog since I began it in August, you will know I have a bit of a thing for digging into the origins of everything.
So, here we go...
Buttons weren't used in the modern day sense as a fastener, instead they served their purpose as ornaments or seals.
Evidence for this was discovered around 2800-2600 BCE in the Indus Valley Civilisation.
At this same location, around 2000 BCE, buttons were carved into geometric shapes from seashell and had holes pierced into them.
They were also found in China and Rome at Bronze Age sites, around 2000-1500BCE.
Buttons used as closures appeared in the 13th Century in Germany. At this point, buttons were the 'thing' to be used on clothes. It opened up new clothing opportunities, whereby closer fitting garments could be successfully held together.
In this same era, in Paris, there were button making guilds, where buttons were made out of a variety of materials including wood, bone, brass, pewter, gold, and silver.
Many artisans began investing their time into creating fine buttons such as French artist, Antoine Watteau, through to Wedgwood, Limoges, and Staffordshire.
Buttons became widespread by the late 18th Century, as factories were punching out buttons.
WWII saw the introduction of plastic arrive in society, thus, making for a 'simpler' styled and 'cheaper' made button. In saying this, there are still many button makers that specialise in designing and creating, quality, non mass produced, artistic buttons.
This is why I love the vintage, the antique and the handmade button.
So, much so, that Kel and I create our own buttons from fallen branches by using a scroll saw to slice them and a Dremel to add holes.
in all fairness to the button,
with its variegated history,
I provided two odes to thee.*