Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Proud Of The Buttons

witness againThere’s a scene in the film Witness where the Amish widow, Rachel, lends John a coat which belonged to her late husband [John’s coat is bloodstained]


Rachel – I should tell you, this kind of coat doesn't have buttons. See? Hooks and eyes.
John - Something wrong with buttons?
Rachel - Buttons are proud and vain, not plain.

And I think she may be right. It is possible to become inordinately fascinated by buttons. Floss, for one, understands this, I know.

My friend Kath gave me a bag recently, of about 1000 buttons. I spent a whole hour sorting them out, when I probably ought to have been doing other more productive tasks. But they are so lovely!


I sorted them by colours into my six IKEA glasses which were nearby [I won’t be able to drink from them again till I re-home the buttons!]

Blues and purples, browns and greys, reds and pinks, blacks and golds, white and pearls, yellows and greens.


I love these textured white ones – some are vintage Bakelite or similar material I think. These coloured ones too are really pretty[look at that tiny pale green shell, centre right!]


And these have such lovely variations in colour.


I must find some really interesting projects to make good use of this generous gift!

Meanwhile, my friend Alyson tells me that at Charlecote Park there is currently an art installation involving buttons. [Alyson saw it, and thought of me!]

charlecote seeking pearls

It was created by Alfreda McHale and is called ‘Seeking Pearls’ The website says “Jars of buttons and threads are assembled on shelves in the Laundry so that, at first glance, they could be mistaken for sweets in an old-fashioned sweet shop.  The viewer is free to touch and play and becomes a participant in the work:  you can decide how you want to sort your bowl of buttons and where you want to put your jar.  As you sort and play you can lose yourself in memories and associations.  Your reasons for sorting buttons one way or another may be transparent (colour, form, type) or may remain private and personal (‘my mum had some like this’).”

Do buttons fascinate you too?

Have you got a button jar or button tin?


  1. There are some real treasures there! I have 3 or 4 button jars. Some are buttons which were on the girls' clothes when they were little- I always cut buttons off clothing that has worn out and save them in my jars.Some have been used over and over again on cardis that I knitted for them when they were babies and then as they grew.

  2. I'm laughing, Angela. I have a facination for buttons, too! I enjoy buying them or sorting free buttons from friends. Are buttons "proud and vain"? I hope not! You have a wonderful collection of buttons. I wonder if one could have a party where you bring buttons to swap?

  3. My Mother and my favourite Aunty both used to let me rummage in their sewing boxes and so I just love buttons. The feel of them, the smell - yes they smell - the clink and texture and all those pretty colours. I keep my buttons and beads in kilner jars on the window sill of my craft room so I can sit and admire the light filtering through them as I sew. I have a pretty box full waiting to be sorted too these will probably go in old Bonne Maman jars, again on the window sill.
    And thanks for the Charlecote tip - may go back there - we are NT members so I could play buttons for free - lol!

  4. I have a button tin. It held toffees and was a Christmas present from my Sunday school teacher when I was a small girl. When I had eaten the toffees, the tin held small treasures and then became my button tin when I was grown up. I have some white "lacy" buttons like yours. I would really enjoy that art installation. Last summer, I was at a market and had to talk sternly to myself because one of the stalls had a large bag of mixed buttons for sale and I really wanted to buy it but I couldn't justify the expense (or explain to my husband exactly why I wanted it so much).

  5. Have I got any buttons???
    Yes, I do 'play' with them from time to time, never thought of myself as vain though LOL!
    I love that film, i watch it at least 3 times a year!

    If you want to give any of your buttons a home... I can swap some fabric and or thread!
    Something else I've got lots of!

    Have a lovely week,

    Sandie xx

  6. Oh yes, lined up in jars in clear drawers...just like an old fashioned sweet shop, indeed!
    Jane x

  7. My button tin holds memories - buttons from matinee jackets, buttons with little ducks on them from toddlers' cardigans knitted by their grandmother, buttons from first school cardigans knitted in a lovely aran pattern by the other grandmother, buttons from long-gone party dresses, etc. I really should find a way of displaying these momentoes ....

  8. I love buttons and have several old biscuit tins full of them - my grandmother's, my mother's and now mine. I lovingly keep and cherish all the spare buttons you get with clothes and love sorting them.

    Playing with my grandmother's tin of buttons was the thing I looked forward to most when we used to visit.

  9. My mother kept big pretty buttons in a beautiful music box. I had it when she died, but over the years have lost track of it. When I was little, I used to love to listen to the music while I played with those buttons! Good memories.

  10. Yes, buttons fascinate me too. I have my mother's old button "box" - which is really an ancient plastic potato salad tub filled with two lifetime's worth of buttons. I love "having" to look for a button - there's such a tactile pleasure in running my fingers through the slippery pile. So many of the buttons carry a story with them.

    (Wow, Harrison Ford was such a looker back then. I always liked that movie.)


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