Light trapped in Glass – The Gleam and the Glow of Glass Buttons

A glass button detail in the middle of metal stampings on an art quiltI think that I may have been a crow or a magpie in another lifetime, as I have always been drawn to shiny things. As for my art quilts, I have to admit that the glass buttons coming out of Czechslovakia are my new favs. When the Russians left, the old button factories were re-opened, and using the old molds from the early 1900s, new materials such as dichroic foil are being added to glass to make stunning new creations. Here’s a great link to an article that was in “Bead and Button” magazine in 2009 by Jane Johnson, a button expert on the history of glass buttons.

In the photo above, you can see one of the shiny lovelies in the lower right hand corner. The golden glow of the base glass has raised lavender bubbles, and I am especially pleased as how well they complement the pale gold miracle beads around them. This piece, entitled “Elements – Earth ” , which I wrote about at the end of Oct, 2011, was an homage to the richness of a lush forest floor. This gold and lavender glass button made a terrific mushroom-like form in the composition.

Glass buttons used to embellish an art quiltIn this detail shot of another art quilt, there is a lovely example of a large, gold starburst glass button in the lower left corner. The surface of pale gold clear glass is incised with “petals” coming out from a central depression. The shine comes from the dichroic foil on the bottom of the glass, on top of the mirrored backing. One of the fun things about this type of glass button is that it appears different colors depending on the viewing angle, the time of day, and the ambient lighting.

In the middle right is another flower shaped glass button. The majority of the glass is tinted a yummy lime green, with opaque yellow and red painted and baked onto the top surface. The light refraction has a different glow to it, as the light coming through this button appears more translucent.

Glass buttons used to embellish an art quiltIn the middle right edge of this detail photo of another art quilt, is another lovely example of a tinted glass button with dichroic foil in the bottom of the tinted glass. The swirl pattern incised into the top and the pleated motif edging, could remind one of a mandala, a whirling wheel, or any number od objects in motion. I like to have areas of interest in my compositions that contrast to their surroundings. Here, this button ( 1 3/4″ or 45mm in diameter) is a little cloud in motion in an otherwise peaceful garden scene. One also might see it as a small rainbow in a drop of water.


Glass buttons used to embellish an art quiltFrom the same art quilt as the above photo is another of my favorite glass buttons. The top surface of the lavender button in the bottom middle of this pic has been incised a number of times to make the petals in the lavender “pansy” flower. The 3 raised dots in the ceter are painted an opaque gold. The underlying darker purple glass glows from behind the flower giving it an irridescent glow.

People often say that they could spend hours looking at the details in my art quilts, and one of the most popular embellishments are the glass buttons. They’re the ones that viewers are most drawn to, ask the most about, and reach out to touch. It turns out that the seller that has the best prices and selections of glass buttons that I’ve found is on eBay. Linda Kanazaki’s web site and eBay site have loads of very color accurate photos of glass buttons and she has very quick, free delivery here in the US. It also turns out that she lives only about 15 miles south of me. That reminds me of the fact that I am so fortunate to have access to suppplies from all over the world to add to  my art work and don’t have to wait for a sailing ship to bring me my treasures.

 Are you addicted to shiny like I am? What are your favorite materials for embellishments in your work?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this piece. Please take a minute, fill out the form by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!

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