Button, Button, I’ve got the Buttons!

Nancy Smeltzer, art quilterOK, so what’s this fascination with buttons? There are a lot of art quilters out there who use buttons and beads on their creations, but I’ve yet to find one who is quite as obsessive as me. I suppose that in the big wide world of afflictions,a “button obsession” is pretty benign, but if you were to look at the bulging boxes on the sagging shelves in my studio, you might begin to think differently. Then, we won’t even discuss the strains on my checkbook. That problem might be just too scary to face!

There’s something about those little round objects that just appeals to me. Yes, buttons come in a wide range of shapes, but the vast majority of them are round. This arrangement makes for ease in slipping through a buttonhole, which I hear tell some people actually use buttons to fasten clothes together. Strange, but I rarely think of them in that way, as a clothes fastener, unless one of my own is dangling precariously by a thread or two. Then I will actually, out of sheer necessity, sew a button back on to one of my pieces of clothing. However, that very wise adage of “A stitch in time, saves nine”seems to be lost on me when it comes to my own wardrobe. An art quilt that has sagging buttons or beads, somehow, always gets cared for.

Most of the time, when I’m dealing with buttons, it’s with sheer delight as I am pawing through one of my boxes looking for the perfect one to adorn a particular spot on a new art quilt. Since they are color sorted, I have to haul them out one box at a time. That job is getting harder, since I recently pinched a nerve in my neck doing abdominal crunches in a folding chair with an overhead bar to pull down on. While my stomach sculpting endeavors have been put on hold for awhile, I still am trying to sew, albeit, in new ways of holding the frame and catching the needle differently. Sew, I will, no matter what the challenges.

However, I digress, which is not hard for me to do… back to buttons. The little round shapes seem to be the easiest for me to place as embellishments. While sometimes, I will use square ones, elongated rectangles, and the other countless shapes that buttons come in, they seem to be difficult to lie as straight as I want them to. If a square is off center a little, it quickly becomes obvious to the eye. If a round button wobbles a little, that doesn’t stick out as much as it seems that your eye movement just circles the shape. The flow of attention seems to go around that shape and then on to the next, which makes for a natural dance from one area to another on the surface of an art quilt.

Part of the fun for me is to combine a diverse number of elements into my designs. If you look back at some of my pieces, you’ll see how I try to balance the numbers of the same size, shape, type, and colors as to make for a co-ordiated look to the piece.After the fabric pieces are in place, I depend on the next smallest design elements, the buttons, to define the composition and to hold the viewer’s eye.

So buttons it is for me. I find them in numerous places, from wholesale accounts, yard sales, and people intrusting their grandmother’s button jar to me. I have often lusted after some lovelie on a friend’s blouse or dress, but have yet to cut one off of somebody else’s clothes…not yet anyway, although I have had people say as I admired a button… “You don’t have scissors on you, do you, Nance?”

Do you have an unusual design element that appears in your work? Where do you find your supplies? How do you feel about using them in your creations?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. 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!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook,  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

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