As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
This weeks winner is Iana at SomethingUnique! You have won a butterfly pendant from Heather at Humblebeads! Email Heather to claim your prize.
This week we join Lynn Davis in her studio.
Lately, I've been thinking about buttons.
At a flea market, I gathered up a glass peanut butter jar full of old, mismatched buttons.
Have you ever thought about the history of the humble button?
The word "button" comes from the french "bouton," for bud or bouten -- "to push" a piece of metal used to connect parts of a garment with a buttonhole.
Long before the crusaders, button-like objects were used as ornamentation or jewelry, until returning crusaders brought home to Europe samples of buttons and buttonholes from the Middle East in the 13th century.
Buttonmaker guilds were formed in Europe around 1250 A.D. to organize artisans, who were creating buttons one at a time using gold and silver for the elite. The common man wore buttons of cloth, wood, bone, horn, shell and woven leather, and because your buttons told society where you ranked on the social ladder, a royal decree dictated what kind of buttons you could, or could not, wear.
In 18th century France and England, potters made ceramic buttons, glassmakers created glass buttons, and artisans made large opulent buttons to decorate men's waistcoats, gloves and to fasten shoes. Some showed hunting scenes and animals, and were called "picturesque" buttons, made to be collected.
In 18th century America, it was patriotic to wear only American-made buttons. Craftsmen made buttons from wood, pewter and brass. Phineas Pratt, a piano-key maker, began making buttons from ivory. Silversmith and patriot Paul Revere made fine silver buttons. A set of gold buttons with a profile of George Washington on them were presented to the Marquis de Lafayette during a visit to America in 1824.
Buttons can be like little history books for us to study, showing activities and events of the day. They are endless in their variety and patterns.
Some of the finest buttons were created between 1830-1850 during the "Golden Age" of button making in America, including military and sporting buttons. Buttons are so common now that it doesn't occur to us to salvage the buttons off old garments before we dispose of them, or to inventory them and bequeath them in our wills.
I've been taking the buttons from the flea-market jar and turning them into charms, and I've been lucky to receive antique buttons, to reproduce in pewter and give them a second life as wearable jewelry components. I almost feel that I'm following in the footsteps of the pewter button-makers of the past.
There's something sweetly sentimental and old-fashioned about a two-hole or four-hole button, in shell-like white or in colors. And the pewter reproductions are like tiny sculptures, barely an inch or so across, but with incredible detail.
Reply to this post with a comment on the questions below, and you might be chosen as the winner of one of my pewter reproduction buttons to use for your creative expression.
Do you collect buttons, or use them in creating your jewelry? What are your favorite ways to feature buttons in your designs? What ideas, sentiments or stories do buttons evoke in your mind when you use them. If you have a button story, do tell!
Leave a comment on this post and you might be the lucky winner this week!
Posted by Lynn Davis, who enjoys spreading the piles of buttons out on the table, admiring and matching them up, before putting them back in the glass jar on the windowsill again.