For many years now, I've been an avid collector of vintage (and not-so-vintage) buttons. Actually my button obsession began before I even started sewing. I was already a knitter, but if I were being honest with myself at the time, I would have admitted that my button-mania had nothing to do with the number of buttons I needed (or might ever need) to complete a sweater.
I think that my Nana (maternal grandmother) can be credited with giving me an eye for buttons. She kept a terrific button box and let my sister & I make necklaces from her stash when we were kids. Years later, at a New Year's Eve party during high school at Ali & my mutual friend, Melissa's house, Ali showed up with her mom's button box & a lot of dried pasta. The plan was to make New Year's Necklaces! (Ali, you remember this, right? Senior year in high school? Part of New Year's Eve spent coloring dried pasta with markers? Ring any bells? - and for any non-Ali readers out there, you should know we were completely sober and thrilled that Ali brought a craft project to the party.) Anyhow, that night I made a button necklace from Ali's mom's box and I took that necklace to college & still have the buttons from it today. Ahhh, memories.
So anyway, I'm working diligently on turning Ali into a vintage button hoarder collector and earlier today mailed (finally) her "starter kit" of buttons from my absurdly vast collection. Since I neglected to take a picture of it before I sent it to her, perhaps she will oblige when she receives it. I believe strongly in the use of clear glass jars for organizing and displaying one's buttons, especially the empty jars from Bonne Maman jam so that's what your "starter kit" is coming in, Al. My collection has mostly out-grown the jam jars, though I still use several; I've had to graduate to large class jars suitable for the canning of VAST amounts of jam. Still, it makes me happy, just to look at my jars. You aren't going to see my full collection today because my apartment is a mess and I'm a bit pressed for time so I can't clear the right space for a good picture. But soon my buttons will move to their new shelves and I will share a photo that will make me glad I have that deadbolt on my front door because Ali, you are going to want to come and snatch those babies right up.
Instead, you get to see the TREASURES I got when I bought a pound of buttons from lil fish studios' button destash in her etsy shop. I have bought so many random boxes, tins, jars & bags of buttons on ebay, etsy and in various junk or vintage shops, I couldn't even begin to count. Sorting through buttons makes me happy. It's nerdish & perhaps down-right odd of me, but it's true. At times when I've been bed-ridden ill, sorting buttons on a tray has been my favorite way to pass time. It's so very Montessori of me, but I just love to sort them by color, shape, size - you name it.
Without further ado, here are the pictures I took recently (on a rainy day because I got impatient waiting for the sun) of my latest haul....
Above are the buttons in my one-pound bag that was artfully topped with the sweet button flower that's in the lower left corner of the picture. This is not a skimpy pound; that is for certain.
These are my favorite of the many large (think tres chic wool coats from 1968 and earlier) buttons in my pound of surprise. The photo doesn't so them justice. The one below the top red button has a mother-of-pearl center that is to die for. And, the one near the center of the photo has a faux-tortoise strip that is quite marvelous.
Not to be out-done, here are my favorites in the medium category from my pound of fun. Once again my photography skills are not doing my subjects justice, but you get an idea of the wide array of styles and the terrific colors. I hope I'm not making you too jealous.
Last, but certainly not least are these, my favorites of the small buttons. The variety of materials in this pound is just awesome - a variety of plastics, glass, metal, some wood. I have a real weakness for small-to-tiny white mother-of-pearl/ shell buttons. I'm hoarding them up for a project I have imagined will be stunning (if I ever get around to trying it out). The clear glass buttons in the foreground of the photo are difficult to see but they are carved with great geometric shapes.
And, the winners (and candidates for best-in-show) of the three categories are these buttons below - my all-around favorites.
Indulge me if you will (as if you have any choice, Ali). This photo is particularly poor but I had to show my favorites and now I have to tell you about them, even the two that you can't really see well. At center we have a wonderfully chunky, creamy yellow-white button that makes me so happy to look at. I don't need fancy in a button, people, just a certain je-ne-sais-quoi and this lovely lady has it.
Just above and to her right is a marvelous button that I think might be bakelite even. It's an angled tube with the front facet carved to have a vertical raised piece. Below him is a petite metal-edged mother-of-pearl shank button. You can't see it (but I can because it's my button) but the metal edge has a delicate pattern of lines carved in it around the button.
The trio of wee buttons in the foreground are all made of glass. The one you really can't see is a multi-faceted black shank button and the red and green ones I think speak for themselves. Finally, the other button you can't see well, but oh if you could, you'd steal it! This is a dark green plastic button with a basketweave pattern across the center and the sides - well you can see the top edge and that same pattern is repeated at the bottom.
Ali, I'm sure I'm embarrassing you with this level of detail about buttons I bought. Well, just you wait until I get my button collection up on their new shelf - then there will be another button post and it might be even worse. Every button has a story to tell and you know how I like to tell stories..... a woman of few words, I am not.
But, the fun doesn't end here.... ohhhh no! "Why not?" you ask. Well, because I also bought a small bag of just green buttons from lil fish studios' destash etsy shop. Intrigued? I thought you might be. Here they are all heaped up together:
Are you falling deeply in love with them, Ali? You really should. This batch of greens has the same variety of materials - glass, several types of plastic and metal as the big pounder bag. See below my favorites culled from this collection (it was hard to limit myself, but I managed).
Aren't they marvelous? Note the metal one just right of center in the photo; it's an old Girl Scout button (eek! so exciting!). And that one in the upper left? I've named it "the olive button" both for color and shape (it was tough to balance). Geometrics, florals - they are all terrific.
I bet you're very excited about buttons now, right Ali? Well, there don't seem to be more bags of buttons for sale in the lil fish studios destash shop, but I'm going to convo her and see if maybe she would make one up so I can send a bag for you to sort through. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get you as addicted to vintage buttons as you've gotten me addicted to cross-stitch and its other embroidery friends.