I don’t recall where all the buttons came from. The bowling pins were my maternal grandfather’s (Ralph Ward), the red half moons from a dress my mother wore as a girl, the five green ones from a coat of hers. Once people knew I liked buttons, they started giving me theirs, saved from the time when recycling was “making do” and not “cool.” I have a whole jar of my former mother-in-law”s family’s buttons in the attic. I bought a bunch from junk shops until they started getting called “antique stores.” Some of them are fragile, now, the celluloid cracking, the crackled glass crumbling. Some I used, as the original owners intended, in new clothes. Not just old buttons, either. I have also used old table linens, handkerchiefs, laces, and ribbons.
When I married my husband I wore most of an old shirtwaist. I say “most” because I had to replace sections with new lace and fabric. I used entredeux, which are basically small strips of fabric with holes, to join old to new. I like the idea of holes to join – like jumping gaps in history.
I keep the better buttons (onxy, carved glass, some metal and mother of pearl) in an indigo blue Depression glass bowl. Once, Aislinn made a stepping stone and I gave her some of my collected buttons, an Avon mouse pin my mother once gave me and some other things to press in the concrete. She left it behind with her childhood. It sits on my bookcase along with a clay sculpture Kieli made in Middle School – Dr. Suess trees and a flattened cat that looks like Card VI on the Rorschach.