Friday, June 28, 2013

For The Love of a Button

      - Enamel Art
     Buttons.  Say it with me, "Buttons".  Are you smiling?  I'm certain that you are!
     Lately, however, I find myself screaming at my computer screen when I look at buttons.  There are people out there who want you to think they know about buttons, when, in fact, they are mistaken (yes, I think that's the politically correct way to say it).  I am on a mission to teach you how to spot these errors, so that we stop passing on bad information.  Let me give you a couple examples.
     I am always searching for buttons and button craft on the Internet.  My latest addiction is Pinterest.  Now, I have seen some gorgeous buttons there and I am always glad to see so many people have Boards where they collect buttons!  What breaks my heart is when the description of a button is incorrect or misleading.  Words like, "Antique", "Rare", "Vintage", or even all 3 together to describe a button, makes my skin crawl!  Here is one I found:

"A mixed lot of 14 small vintage buttons. All are in time worn, rusty patina. These jewel like buttons are great for your jewelry making, altered art, altered couture, mix media art, Steampunk, collage or any creative craft projects. It's great to have them around in your studio. They will inspire you...or they can make your inspiration take fly. "
      14 vintage metal buttons

     Sounds enticing!  I tried to see how much this seller wanted for these buttons, but, to my horror, they had SOLD!  The description says, "...time worn, rusty patina".  It should say, ..."disintegrating, rusty and moldy"!  These are buttons that I would NEVER touch or put in with my other buttons, because these buttons are SICK and they WILL infect your other buttons with their mold spores.  In short, these buttons should be trashed.  Sad? Yes, of course!  Had these buttons been properly stored, they might have been spared this deplorable fate.
     Now, the disclaimer: I am not doing this to call people out, point fingers or malign anyone.  The market lives by the rule, "buyer beware".  THAT is why I am writing this series: To give you the tools to make educated purchases and shares.  I saw this picture on several other Pintrest boards, so the misinformation is being spread like the mold spores on the buttons!
     OK, it has begun.  I am going to teach you about buttons from the ground up and you will be ambassadors for buttons, or as I like to call myself, a buttonologist!
     Time is a precious commodity.  I promise to keep these posts brief, so that you can learn a little each day and not be overwhelmed.  Ask questions, comment, let me know what you are thinking.  Above all, Button Up!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Buttonology 101

     I am "The Button Lady".  I collect buttons.  I teach others about buttons.  I have written two books about buttons.  My goal is to make button education accessible to everyone.  I feel I am failing.
Today I embark on a mission to continue what I started with my books and lectures.  I will write about buttons, chapter by chapter.  I will not shy away from controversy.  I'm calling it like I see it, because you all deserve to know.

     I am so excited about this endeavor that I may wander from my path from time to time.  I must be patient and start at the beginning, or risk having my message lost.  I welcome your questions and thoughts.  Ask anything, say things pertinent to the subject.  Open your eyes and your minds.  Learn something new.
     Learning.  We learn something new everyday, it is said.  What do you, and I, do with this learning?  It is our responsibility to share what we know with others.  Do not keep your "light under a bushel".  I am asking all of you to share my blog messages on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like, so that everyone will have access and learn about buttons.

     "Really, Jill, " you say, "Buttons?"  I know you are thinking this because I though it as well. I see the same look on the faces of others that I had when I saw a flyer for a State Button Society Show.  I went to the show, thinking it would be "fun".  I left the show, knowing it had changed my life.  I was entrusted with knowledge and a mission and I have embraced it; writing books, articles and speaking to groups.  It needs to grow larger, and I need your help.  As I post chapters here on my blog, I am asking that you share them with others, and encourage them to do the same.  It is my hope that you will be ambassadors for me when you see what I am seeing on the Internet, eBay, Pinterest and at flea markets.
Look for my first installment tomorrow and you will see why I am so passionate about this.
Button Blessings to you all,

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm Ready For My Close Up!

     Some of you may remember hearing me talk about taping a segment for "The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims" last year.  I was shocked and honored to be asked and I was treated like royalty (well, I AM the Button Queen, after all!) while I was there.  The only disappointment was learning that it would not air until late in 2013. 
     That's why I'm so happy to tell you, the release date has been changed to February 11!  That's right, just a couple weeks away!  Here is a link to the promotion they are running for it:

     But wait!  There's more!  I was able to get a special gift for you, my friends and followers:
You can watch my episode For Free
     Here's how: "The Quilt Show" will open up my Episode for you to watch for FREE! It is scheduled from *February 17 – February 24, 2013 AND here is a link where you can receive a discount on a TQS membership. This way, anyone joining during that week will have an opportunity to see my show and other fun things they have to offer on their website. The link is:

The coupon code for my followers to receive a discount of 20% when joining is: 233430744953

     I urge you to take advantage of this great offer!   You will love all of the wonderful guests and information The Quilt Show has to offer.  Alex and Ricky bring you top notch talent along with their own expert advice in each episode, so you can't go wrong!

Alex and Ricky
To sum up: If you already subscribe to TQS, you can watch my episode on February 11.
                  If you are not a subscriber, you can watch my episode for free during the week mentioned above.
                  If you'd like to be a subscriber to The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, you can get a discount by using the code number above.

     Please mark your calendars for this exciting show!  I look forward to hearing your feedback about it!
Button Up,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Goldilocks and the Dresser Drawers

People have often commented on how clever I am.  I never really took it to heart....until yesterday!  This was such a light bulb moment that I just had to share it with you!

We purchased a dresser for our son quite some time ago. It's been a sturdy choice, except when it came to the handles. One by one the center pull would come out of its socket and end up in your hand. This, as you would guess, is not where it belonged and the drawer was certainly not opened!
I finally decided to replace the handles on the drawers.  Little did I know how challenging this would be!  First of all, the size is not the most popular and I looked for some time to find pulls that would fit!  Then, as I endeavored to put the new handles on, I discovered that the post you see above allowed the screws to be short (about 1").  The new hardware also came with 1" screws, but not with the post so the screws were too short.
 My husband, Steve, found some longer screws for me...Yea! there was a gap.  The new screws were too long.  How to make it "just right"?

OK, I needed a washer.  Did I have any washers?  Yes, in my sewing room.  I use them to balance shank buttons.  But wait!  I have these "buttons".  Well, they were buttons before the center piece with the shank was snapped out.  I wonder.....

Well, would you look at that!  They fit perfectly!  No jiggling and kinda cute to boot! 

 Buttons to the rescue....again!



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Button Up....Literally!

Art Deco, celluloid buttonhooks
I am often asked how I came to be a Buttonologist.  It's a long story, really, but the thing that drew me to buttons was the "crossover factor".  Buttons have so much in common with other things that intrigued me: history, sewing, quilting, fashion, traditions and the like.  Here is one of those fascinating crossover tidbits I found:  Buttonhooks!
I recently found a website for collectors of buttonhooks while doing research for my upcoming novel.  They are mainly based in England, but, like button collectors, they have a Society and strive to document and educate others about these lovely little tools.  Like buttons, there are your garden variety and your pieces made for royalty.  There are pieces that multi task and pieces that advertise!  There are even some buttonhooks made from military findings, including uniform buttons, called Trench Art! Like buttons they were, of course, made from the most popular materials of the day.  These included materials such as sterling silver, celluloid, brass, Mother of Pearl, bone and plastic.
Buttonhooks came to be a very necessary utility item between the1880's and 1930's.  The style of clothing included shoes, gloves, stiff collars, spats and dresses used rows of tiny buttons that were to be pulled through equally small eyelets.  The buttonhook was a real sanity saver!
The society has a wonderful and well written website that explains so much more, if you are interested.  I found it fascinating!  Now, as you search for buttons, you can keep your eyes pealed for these beauties as well and you will always be able to "Button Up" with no trouble at all!

For more info, visit:

States: " The only first class fastener in the world.
ask your dealer for them
Does not mutilate the (???) the foot
saves time and trouble of sewing on buttons
samples attached to this card"

Monday, October 1, 2012

What are "China" Buttons?

Whistles; fluted w/Rims & hobnail, rimless.
     China buttons do not come from the Country of China, but rather, from a porcelain production method.  Imagine Bone China plates and tea cups, vases, figurines and the like.  Up until 1840 buttons of this type were made in the same way as these items: from wet clay.  It was tedious and the product was so unpredictable that the buttons that turned out well commanded a very high price.  What changed that?  An Englishman!
     Richard Prosser came up with a method that used very dry porcelain powder which was then pressed into dies that were ready to be fired immediately in the kiln.  The process was quick, inexpensive and reliable.  Now there was competition for the utility buttons of the day made from metal or shell.

Colored body (red) Fish-eye. 
 Note the back (on right) has typical rough patch.
     Richard sold a part interest of his patent to Minton's of France and they soon began producing beautiful, yet practical, china buttons.  There is a wonderful story about Minton's that I will share with you later this week!  While other countries, such as England and America, soon got in on the production market, France made a superior quality product.  In addition, the Calico patterns, which these buttons are sometimes patterned after, were produced in France, so they are typically thought of as a French product.
Fish-eye with a stencil pattern. Found in 11 colors!
     The fact that they could be mass produced and sold for reasonable prices might explain why we typically find so many china buttons among the other utilitarian shell / Mother of Pearl, metal and plastic buttons in our button boxes!  They were made in a large variety of types, shapes and patterns and I will try to introduce you to some of the more common types this week.
     The pictures you see in today's post are of my newest acquisitions from my dear friend, Sharon Onweller.  In the near future I hope to make a few display cards to show you how I store them for reference and safe keeping. Until then, Button Up!

Calicoes, glorious Calicoes!

Friday, September 28, 2012

China Buttons for Grace

     I have an adorable niece named Grace.  She and her twin brothers, Seth and Ryan, have been helping me set up, work and tear down my show booth for several years now whenever I visit Arizona.  They love to help me sort, package, count and label my stock.  They each have their own button boxes which they made themselves and they have become button fanatics.  I can't imagine why!?
     When Grace decided that she would like to get serious about button collecting, at the ripe old age of 7, I started her with China buttons.  Grace calls them "Chiiiiiiina Buttons"  as if they were rubies.  It brings tears to my eyes!  She now has a lovely card of China buttons complete with identifying labels and she studies her copy of Warman's Buttons Field Guide diligently to be able to identify new buttons I send to her.
     China buttons are a wonderful button for a beginning collector because they are plentiful, inexpensive (for the most part), and colorful.  There are several body styles and types of China buttons, but the most popular seem to be "Calicoes" and "Stencil" patterns.  There are over 326 Calico patterns (and that number grows as new specimens are discovered) and over 63 Stencil patterns catalogued.  Both types came in several colors and sizes.
I'd like to talk about China buttons this week in my blogs.  What exactly is a China button?  Where were they made and when?  What kinds of Chinas are there?  What are they worth today?  Where can I find China buttons?  In addition I'd like to share new finds and research that is being done today.  Can you see why I'm so addicted?  And this is just one type of button!!!  Heaven help us!