Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Four generations of button collectors (plus a little shopping)

My grandmother, my mother and I have all collected buttons.Most of my teenage finds are still in the beautiful boxes at my mother's house, which may also contain buttons from my great grandmother, who was a seamstress in Blaina, South Wales.
So it's likely that the boxes we sorted through today contain the combined collections of four women over more than a century: Edith, Mildred, Dawn and Floss.
Some of the buttons have come off clothes worn by the family, and others were picked up in charity shop button boxes.Many of the mid 20th century buttons are from clothes my mother remembers: 'Your grandmother had a raw silk with those buttons on. My father brought it back from Shanghai and her mother made it up for her'.
'I had a coat with those sailing boat buttons on,' she tells me. 'It was almost impossible to get them through the holes. You'd never give a child such impractical buttons today...'
We noticed for the first time that the three Victorian dress buttons are shaped like whirls of ribbon. The big beaded button is clearly for mourning.My mum was offering me the chance to take some examples home, but I wasn't keen on breaking up the collection. Instead, we've agreed that I'll take some complete sets of buttons - all the glass ones, for example, to complete the group I took over after Christmas.
These military (and other) buttons are quite fun, and my parents have a friend in the US who collects them. My father and grandfather were in the Navy, and a great, great grandfather was Deputy Chief Constable of Carnarvon, so uniform-type buttons probably have a family history with us. I'm going to check out Great, Great Grandpa's photo to see if I recognise any of the buttons! These two aren't metal - I think they may be Bakelite, perhaps.
Shiny!
Eclectic blue. Wooden. Milly Molly Mandy buttons here, Elizabethd!
And so many mother of pearl...I have taken the square collection - aren't they stylish? Stiletto girl vintage has some great ideas for displaying a collection like this here. She also has a great history of the American mother of pearl button industry here.
I was inspired to make a mother of pearl button necklace. I've never made a button necklace before but Dorcas (above) looked like she would help me. I presume the thread was named after good old Dorcas the early Christian, who sewed shirts for orphans and widows. Her Hebrew name Thabitha has always appealed more to me and Ben than the Greek version Dorcas. If Son 1 had been Daughter 1 she would have been called Tabitha!
So, with the help of Dorcas thread and the Edinburgh Bead Shop ribbon, cord and fastenings, here is my first attempt at a button necklance.
It fits!
The bead shop just happens to be opposite a super-duper little place in Stockbridge, called:Well, what else would it be called?
It's not just a gift shop; its main role is as an art and craft studio with workshops for all ages and abilities. If we lived here, we'd have had plenty of birthday parties here by now! Click here for their website.This is where I bought the Vietnamese rice sack planters which are much admired by Brooke from be in red. Today I bought rice sack bunting to go with the planters! Much excitement. Rhona, who owns the centre, told me that her source for the rice sack stuff is an Englishman who goes out to Vietnam every year and works with the producers, developing new products appropriate for the UK market. This is great, fair trade, fun!
I've admired this fair trade South African chappie for a while now. Do you think I could make one? Goodnight from me and Dorcas the gazelle! (That's what Dorcas/Tabitha means, honest! Coincidence or what?)

6 comments:

Brooke Everett of be in red said...

Wow this is a fun post. All those buttons! And I do love the rice sack products. They inspired an idea, and I am now collecting packaging from the rice bags I use for a project. It will be a while until I have enough, but I will be sure to let you know when I have it finished.

Sal said...

I love buttons1 I used to play with my grandma's button box whenever I visited her.I was fascinated.My mum hates buttons!

However,guess what her maiden name was...it was...'Button'!

Your family has a wonderful collection! ;-)

Elizabethd said...

Your buttons remonded me of my mother's collection, most of which I still have. Buttons were truly beautiful then, very imaginative.

Lavender hearts said...

Gorgeous buttons, a real feast for the eyes! :-)

Woohoo, someone who agrees with me! :-) I honestly think there will be a whole generation of people having to use notromors and sanding down antiques. It's a travesty really! My rule is if the wood looks awful, it's not particularly old or been repaired then fine, but if it's lovely Oak or old pine then I think it should be left as it is! Also, I was a child of the 80s and 'that' white-painted furniture look was in then and was well and truly OUT by the 90s so, looking to the future, I've no doubt it will go out of fashion again. :-)

Shabby Chick said...

Hi Floss

Gorgeous necklace! The button collections look amazing for having a good play with and a look through. I love the mother of pearl ones with the holes and patterns, beautiful.

Thanks so much for your comment, it was lovely of you and meant a lot to me. It's awful when something or someone makes you question what you're doing. I think the friendship is beyond repair really, though I don't want a huge scene or anything. Our children are going to different schools in September and there's no reason our paths will cross very often after that luckily!

Take care and have a lovely Easter xxx

stilettogirl said...

Lust, lust, lust. Your collection is amazing! Those are some of the most fabulous buttons! The round and square MOP buttons are fabu! Thanks so much for including the link to my blog as well. ; )