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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To Everything, A Season

     Those of you who know me well, know that I can be a bit...hmmm, what's the word....flighty?!  These past few months have been very trying on me, my family and friends, especially those who have had to deal with me.  My frustration levels were through the roof and I thank you for listening and standing by me.
     This last weekend I participated in one of my favorite qyilt shows, "Quilt-AFair", in Longmont, Colorado.  Before the show I remember thinking, "This is my last show of 2012.  Now I can really get to work!".  Funny what a difference two days can make.  After the show was over, I made a big decision that I have been putting off for some time now:

            I will not be doing shows in 2013.

     There are a lot of reasons why this must happen, but I won't bore you with them.  The silver lining is that I will finally be able to finish my novel, write the new books and patterns I have been working on and travel the country giving educational programs and classes to guilds and groups and museums.  I am even going to appear on "The Quilt Show" with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.

     When I actually said it out loud, I thought a bolt of lightning might strike me.  Instead, I got so excited!  I thought I might be sick.  Instead, I feel energized, as if I'd lost 50 pounds.  I know that there will be moments of doubt, but if I pour myself into my work (including my blog and website) I will be able to look back on this day as a moment of truth for myself: 
        You can't do it all, but you can do it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Army Locket Button

Story time! A long time ago (maybe 5 years), in a far away place (Denver, CO), a tall, red-headed lady attended the Colorado State Button Society Annual Show.  It was at this show that two important and wonderful things happened that changed her life:
  • She saw a locket button for the first time
  • She met and became dear friends with button dealer, Don Ortwein
OK, it wasn't so dramatic, but in retrospect it was pretty important.  My friend and colleague, Janice Stutts, had a newly acquired find:  an Army locket button, circa. 1918.  Her Mom had found a box of buttons at an estate sale in Portland, Oregon, and having picked out those she wanted, gave the rest to her daughter.  Janice told me of finding the button in the box and thinking it was a regular Army uniform button.  That was, until she turned the button over!!!  On the back were the words, "LIBERTY MFG. CO. LOS ANGELES CAL PATENT PEND."
Now, not too many buttons were manufactured by companies on the West Coast, so that was a clue in itself.  Luckily, Janice had seen one of these buttons from Hawaii button dealer, Don Ortwein.  We were, in fact, sitting at Don's tables when she and I had our meeting of the minds!  Janice showed me how the button hinged and opened it to reveal two black & white photos behind celluloid covers.  What a find!  Janice and I stared at the photos for a moment and she said to me, "I wonder who these women were?" "Maybe his sweetheart?  His Sister? It would be cool to know who they were, wouldn't it", I said.  Then, as if zapped with electricity, we both sat up straight and looked at each other.  "You need to...."Janice started, "write a story about it", I continued!
Since then I have toyed with the idea.  Don Ortwein even searched and found a locket button for my collection.  It has one photo in it of what appears to be a young man, but I'm not certain.  The photos that haunt me, however, are of those young ladies and I have decided that their story needs to be told.
To that end, I am asking all of you reading this to send me any information you have about a relative who served in WWI, letters, photos, etc, or even places where I could visit to continue my research about live during this time and Army regulations, uniforms, rule books that may exist, etc.  I have been reading voraciously and the book has begun to take shape.
I hope I can do these ladies and their soldier proud with my story.
Don Ortwein

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If You Work Hard...

How many times have I tried this?  More than I can count!  The truth is, we have to act on things in order for them to become a reality.  Wow, that sounds like a Physics principal...Sir Isaac Newton, help me out here:

  • Newton's first law of motion states: A body in motion tends to remain in motion, a body at rest tend to remain at rest unless acted on by an outside force.*
  • Newton's second law of motion states that a force, acting on an object, will change its velocity by changing either its speed or its direction or both.**
  • The third law is probably the best known of Newton's laws. It states that for every force and action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.***

*You know, like a publishers deadline or the kid you were making the baby quilt for is graduating from High School.
**This would explain why Calvin's Hocus-Pocus didn't force or action was taken. This would explain why the ideas I think of either don't come to fruition, or someone else comes up with it before I do!
***I like to think of this as good in, good out, bad in, bad out.  I think i'll save this one for's a whole new can of worms!

I talk about procrastinating all the time. I can always think of an excuse or "reason" things didn't get done.  Truth is, talk with out actions is wasted breath.  No more good intentions.  I'll say yes when I can and no when I can't.  My word is my bond.

I'm going to post a picture of Sir Isaac Newton in my office to inspire me to turn over a new leaf....and maybe one of Calvin, too!