Sunday, 8 August 2010

Buttons anyone?

I went to a meeting yesterday afternoon. The guest speaker was a collector of buttons. Now the Senior Cat has just tried his hand at making buttons. Both of us had done some reading on the topic with the help of some Inter-Library Loans. He probably should have been there to ask questions. Nobody asked any questions. We were not actually given the opportunity to ask questions. I rather think that the speaker was happy to avoid them. She does not claim to be an expert in the field, rather an interested amateur who has collected some interesting facts.
I will not try and repeat those facts here. Suffice to say that some people have spent ridiculous amounts on holding their clothes together.
My paternal grandfather was a tailor so buttons were of interest to him too. Most of the buttons that he used were dark, dull and plain. They were, after all, intended for men's suits. The backing buttons he used were more interesting. They had his name around the circumference. That way there could be no doubt about who had made the suit. It was discreet advertising - all he ever needed to do. For almost all his working life he had more work than he could cope with.
After he retired, at the age of 86, my mother inherited a box of buttons from him. Over the years she used them on a wide variety of garments for my father and my brother and as 'spare' buttons to replace those on the waistbands of trousers for me.
Still later I passed some of them on to a friend who does quilting. Not long afterwards she gave me a small velvet heart covered in buttons, one of them a backing button from my grandfather's collection.
I collect buttons in a different way. I do not do this often because buttons can be expensive. Just occasionally however I will collect pewter buttons for use on a knitted garment. I found the first set in Norway. It was just by chance. I was visiting some schools. My hostess for the day needed a zip for her son's trousers. She took me in to a small haberdashery store and there, on the counter, was a card of buttons with a lovely Scandinavian design of reindeer. I used my pocket money for the trip to buy them. They have since adorned adorned a grey and white garment that, after thirty plus years has seen better days, much better days. The buttons however are still in excellent condition.
I still like these buttons. They are a reminder of my three day visit to Norway and Sweden. I saw very little apart from the inside of classrooms but the buttons remind me of what else might well have been there. They are not buttons belonging to a Roman, a prince, an emperor or a fashion designer. All those were of interest but I do not wish to own them. I like my own buttons. I have used them. I will remove the buttons and use them again.


Virtual Qulter said...

I spent a ridiculous amount of money on two beatiful buttons recently ..... now I have to find tow garments which need just one button so I can use them.

catdownunder said...

You could knit something perhaps?

Rachel Fenton said...

I have Scandinavian hook and eye fastenings on a cardi once belonging to my grandfather. I adore "found" buttons!