Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Simple Joy of Buttons!

Don't you just love going thru the button box--or jar(s) in my case. I prefer to keep my buttons in jars for two reasons--one so I can see them and two, so they can see out--yes so they can see out. Whenever I use a button on a crafting type project I like to use the back of the button as the front. I mean hey the front of the button gets all the glory, so I think the back should have a turn--unless of course if it would look funny, or hide a pretty front and well a shank button is better left to face the front, but there are plenty of button backs that make great new fronts.

Some of my favorite buttons are old scroungy beat up chipped buttons. I have a little jar of mostly mother of pearl buttons that fit this description and they are my special collection used only on special projects.
What about the odd things that sometimes show up in the button box. Those things that have nothing whatsoever to do with buttons--like marbles (where else do you keep a stray marble), screws, nails, washers, nuts and bolts--hmmm...who put those there? I've even found the stray M&M on occassion. This morning as I was pawing thru one of my button jars I found a button hole sizer and I really don't know what they are for--well to size the hole of course, but I never worry about the hole size, just the button size. Why would you need to size the hole? It looks like a little key. I think I may have to google it and see what I can find out.
Buttons are one of those little joys of life--to me anyway. A little item of utility in our daily life that goes un-noticed, yet so very interesting. I don't know about you, but I don't usually stop to pick up a lost penny, but I will most certainly stop and save that lost little button.
If you can stand a bit more button talk, below is a silly little story I wrote (I am not a writer as you will see) a few years back about the life of a button.

The Journey of a Button
By Cathy Jackson
February 14, 2004

Have you ever thought of the life of a button and where it's been and what it's seen and whose worn it. I always wonder these things as I paw thru my button piles and search for just the right button for a particular project. Who wore it? How many pieces of clothing has it been on? Where are it's mates? How old is it? Where has it traveled to and how long has it sat here in someone's button jar or box and how many someone's button jars has it been in? Just think of all the garments an old button has served duty on. Maybe it started on mom's dress in the 1930's and followed her as she cleaned the house and cared for the family, then later on was sewn to little Susie's dress in the 1940's and followed her to school and learned the 3 R's and later in the evening sat by the radio and listened to the news of a world war only to be outgrown and tossed aside hoping to be used again soon and not doomed to spend the rest of its long life in a darkened button tin with all the other mismatched cast offs. Oh but wait! Oh this little button is lucky! She didn't have to sit in the button tin long. No she's going to be the eye of a stuffed toy dog and she's now going to experience what the 1950's holds! For this little button, now an eye on the beloved toy dog of Susie's little boy it gets to go outside and play and be drug thru the dirt and held close at night and OH NO not the washer! A dangerous place for a button--many get lost in the washer and Oh that squeezing thru the wringer--ouch! Hey, wait a minute this isn't too bad. I didn't get squeezed thru the wringer, just spun around and around in a sea of water and suds. Boy was this little button glad to get back outside and hang on the clothesline to soak up the warm rays of the sun on such a fine summer day. Hey what's that big silver bird in the sky--it makes an odd noise--not a nice chirp, chirp sound. Oops, whing! Little Billy has snatched his toy dog off the line and back into the dirt I go! Well Billy is all grown now and that old stuffed dog is pretty well worn. Snip go the scissors--the little button who has gladly served as an eye is tossed into the button tin once more--with some old familiar faces and several new ones too. The little button spends the next 40 + years in the dark button tin looking forward to when Susie's little granddaughters come to play with the little tin of buttons. She is going to get out and play! Wait, the little girl is done playing..she's putting the buttons back, but this little button is lost in the carpet--what is this stuff! What is that big noisy thing coming toward me! It's gonna suck me up! Cough, cough, ewwww, blech! What is all this dark gray fuzzy stuff. It's dust my dear little button. Into the trash it goes as the vacuum bag is emptied, but wait! All is not lost the little girl spies the button and pops it into her pocket. Later that night her mother finds the button and tosses it into her button jar. "Oh I like this jar." "I can see!" It’s not at all like being in the dark button tin, where a button can’t see out. Pretty soon the jar is wrapped with newspaper--hey it's getting dark in here--the paper is dated 2001. The little button that started it's journey on a beautifully decorated card that sat in a fabric shop in 1930 has traveled far and into a new millenium. The jar it lives in is now being put into a Priority Mail box and shipped to someone who has bought it for a mere $20 from a place called Ebay. The little button is leaving it's home in the east and traveling out to the west. It arrives unharmed and is lovingly unwrapped and sat about on a large table in a cheery, bright sewing room. Oh how she loves to peer out of the jar and not be closed up in some old dark tin. Soon all the little buttons are spilled out from the jar and a lady's hands gently and lovingly stroll thru the pile looking at each one. She's searching for the perfect little button to be an eye on one of her rag dolls. Oh how the little button would love to be on a rag doll! Wait, could it be true? Yes! She picks up the little button and gently sews it to the little ragged doll--a doll that is newly made, but looks old and grungy! Now why would a new doll be grungy already? Oh well it's not for the little button to question, but wait! Wait just one dog gone minute here! That "woman", she, she, she sewed me on backwards! Now why would she do a thing like that! Well says the woman to her little raggedy doll, "Done!, I like using the backs of the buttons for the fronts. They have served years I'm sure on someone's clothes and have never seen the world, being that they were the backside. Now the back of these little buttons will get to see the world thru your little eyes." The lady gently hugs her raggedy little doll and places her into a Priority Mail box where someone on Ebay (of course!) has purchased her and she will now leave the west and travel back to the east--right where the little button started it's journey over 70 years ago...........


Anonymous said...

I love your story Cathy. I will think of it and a button's journey when I gaze into my jars of old buttons. Karen

Anonymous said...

We must be realted as I have boxes and tins and brown bags with its' special crumples and jars of buttons, too. I have a bag that is all coat buttons, another that is all dark buttons that are lucite and bakelite etc. Then there are the bags of MoP buttons and abalone, a few pewter and clay, and the everyday buttons. I take buttons off of all garments that I recycle.My regret is that today so many garments have the generic brown/tan buttons that are a dime a thousand! Cherie

Tami said...

What a delightful story! I love it ... makes me think of where all my buttons have been and the things they've seen. :-)