To borrow a title from Rod Stewart’s third album about pictures telling stories, I’m writing today about the stories that I make up about buttons that I find. I have always liked the little things, and apparently I’m not the only one. I bought this elaborate metal button on eBay, (photo to the left)and unfortunately, I don’t remember the seller so I can give her credit. She had taken the time to decorate the border of the card stock with a scalloped edge to the card stock to which the button was attached. She added a sticker of cherries, which while really not having anything to do with that particular button, told me that she saw buttons as more than just a way to fasten clothing. i could go on and continue a made-up story about how she might have been a contessa, selling off her family’s former assets, but that’s probably a story for another blog.
Early on in my art quilting career, I decided to feature my fondness for buttons in other facets of my life besides the actual fabric creations that I made. Since I can’t always carry around one of my art quilts, as some weigh in at 25 pounds (11.4 kg) I decided to make bracelets. Being a bit obsessive when I find a new interest, I made five of them, each featuring different colors. They’re all made of buttons with shanks, with split rings to attach them to stretchy metal “watch bands” that have 3 loops/link. These bands are made specifically to add on jangly things. I like the split rings better for attaching the buttons than jump rings, as the joint where jump rings touch needs to be soldered, and I’m afraid that the heat might destroy the buttons. The problem was that until I discovered split ring pliers, with one tooth that has a bent point to separate the overlapping rings, I was constantly stabbing myself in the hand with the scissors I was trying to use to separate the overlaps and attach the rings. Body wounds are just another way that artists suffer for their work…at least until they know bettter! Sigh!
I had a wonderfully quirky aunt who at one point bought a number of antique buttons at a yard sale. They each were attached to card stock with a short piece of a pipe cleaner, and had then been mounted, maybe twenty per card, in inexpensive frames. She gave me several of those frames whose buttons became the basis for my gold bracelet. Here are some of my favs.
This gold cherub, taming a lion, has such a sweet, innocent look to it. By Googling “cherub with lion button” (I love how you can find anything on the Net!), it seems that the little winged guy is Eros, the God of Love. At least, that’s the story that I’m sticking to, especially given the buttons that l’ll talk about next, that are on the same bracelet, have a similar theme.
This next button (2″ or 5 cm in diameter) is one of my favorites. It shows a gentleman courting a woman who is holding a large fan. His hat suggests to me that perhaps the scene is set in the 1700s, but I doubt if the button is that old. The details in the button show a lot of depth, with a number of places where the piercings go all the way through, exposing whatever fabric that would have been the background for the button. There’s an espaliered tree with fruit surrounding the window and the courting man. I do find the angle of the woman’s hand holding the fan to be unusual and not very comfortable looking. I also wonder if she’s holding her suitor at bay with the fan. The poor man seems very eager to engage her in conversation that perhaps might lead to a higher level of connections. Hope does spring eternal in the human breast…:)
Here’s another large metal button, (2″ or 5 cm in diameter) that shows an Asian couple sharing a secret in a pagoda like building. They seem to be a couple, as they lean in towards each other, but given that they’re meeting under the moonlight, the story that I’ve made up about this pair is that this is a clandestine meeting. This button also has incredibly fine details that you don’t see in modern ones. All of those additional features of the setting help me to easily make up a story about how their families have kept them apart, yet their desire to be together is strong.
I think that you can see how I make up stores to amuse myself, and the more complicated the better. After all, while settle for the mundane when you can embellish an object with all of the significance you want to appease your heart’s desire. The practice of making up stories began when my ex and I would travel and create stories while waiting for trains and planes. An older lady hobbling by might be a former black-ops agent wanted on all seven continents. A very obese woman had a job on the side as a pole dancer. The more outlandish the possible match of the imaginary job with the person’s body characteristics made the time spent more amusing. From there, it was just a short jump to crafting tales about objects that I would find. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t take much to entertain myself.
To find out more about buttons, check out the site for the National Button Society. There’s a wealth of information on all aspects of the subject.
Do you have tales about your art materials? Perhaps you’re a story teller, too and have a short piece to share about something you found.
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