Saturday, February 15, 2014

We're Baaaaaack!

After a VERY long hiatus, we've decided to reactivate this blog.  I know, 4 years is way too long to be gone, but a lot of stuff was going on during that time and the blog simply fell by the wayside.  Now that "regular posting has begun again, we've decided to add pinback buttons to our blog as well.

Why?", you might ask.  Mostly because my love of buttons now includes a love of pinbacks as well.  It started innocently enough.  There I was, rummaging through a lot of vintage buttons at a flea market, when what do I see but pinback buttons about button collecting!  I immediately grabbed the one that said "I love buttons" and the other that said "button collector".  Happily I brought them home along with the 10 or so Bakelite buttons I found that day.  Only thing was, they looked so lonely all be themselves....

So, off to Ebay and Etsy I went to see if I could find more.  Imagine my surprise when I found buttons with pictures of buttons, button convention buttons, sayings about buttons, etc. etc.  It wasn't long before I had a nice collection of buttons with a button theme!  From there I began thinking about whether or interests, fandoms, etc. might have buttons.  Well, of course, they do!  So, my small collection of pinback buttons began to grow, and grow, and grow.

Occasionally I would look for a button for a particular fandom, or a funny saying that I wanted, and wouldn't be able to find it.  A family member solved that problem by buying me a button making machine!  Now I not only collect them, I make them and sell them too!

Should you ever have a button you'd like to see created, let me know.  I'll probably do it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Risking death to save a button

O.k. maybe not death but injury.  I love parades and will go whenever I have a chance.  Well, we were at one where some of the various groups that do civil war re-enactments were participating.  If you've ever been fortunate enough to talk to someone who does civil war reenactments you'll know they strive to be as accurate as possible with their costuming.  Since I have a friend who is quite involved in this, I know that many of them will even purchase vintage buttons to use on their clothing.  

Back to the parade.  It was a beautiful sunny morning if a bit on the cool side.  I could here the fife and drums off in the distance as I settled my blanket on the curbside (Yes, these old bones still sit on the ground with the kids!).  The local band led off the parade followed by some of the Pee Wee leagues and a couple of clowns.  Then came the Civil War group.  As one of the drummers passed by, a button dropped off his shirt.  Well I had to have it!  So as the group passed I made a mad dash into the street to grab the button - right in front of the mounted division of the Knights of Columbus.  Have to give the horse credit, he didn't seem too upset, though I can't say the same for his rider!

The button turned out to be an authentic 4 hole bone button as was common on shirts of that era.  Not nearly as valuable as an authentic civil war metal button would've been (the one pictured recently sold for $600+), but a find nonetheless.  Besides, if it had turned out to be a metal one I would have felt compelled to hunt the guy down and give it back! So, what lengths have you gone to in order to get a button?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Button Cat

Normally I blog about vintage and collectible buttons.  Today I'm blogging about buttons and a crazy cat.  The cat is an all black male, about 10 months old and addicted to buttons.  His name is Spaz and all I can say is never was there a cat more aptly named.  Personally, I think he must have been a goofy dog (think Marley) in another life. 

Now I love buttons.  Old ones, new ones, fat ones, skinny ones.  If it's interesting, I want to get my hands on it.  Here and there I could've sworn I had a particular button only to not be able to find it when I wanted it.  I alternated between thinking I'd been looking at too many button sites and only imagined having it and believing I was losing my mind!

Besides collecting them, I also use them to create unique jewelry pieces.  In the process of creating, I usually set up a layout.  Sometimes a piece comes together immediately, other times it'll need some rearranging.  If I don't like the look of a piece I'll leave it laid out so that I can get a feel for what needs to be added or changed. 

The other day I had a bracelet laid out using nice bright bakelite buttons.  Since I intend this piece to have flower charms and such, I'd used a variety of colors but it was still missing something.  Thinking a hint of a silver mirrorback might do the trick I fetched those buttons.  About this time the phone rang, dinner needed to be started and some kid or other wanted help.  Fast forward a couple hours and I'm back to working on the bracelet.  Only thing is, the mirrorbacks that I thought I'd placed into the piece are now missing.  Starting a search, I eventually locate one of them on the bathroom counter.  Now I notice the cat sitting there with a goofy grin on his face, but I don't associate him with the missing buttons.  Instead, I assume I must've had it in my hand and stopped to do something (like pick up the towels, fix the blinds someone had to look thru, put the cap on the toothpaste, and on it goes..)  O.k., 1 button found, 1 to go.  I look and look and can't locate the button.  It's not like I don't have lots of others so I finally go get another one.  As I go to place it in the arrangement, who should stroll in but Spaz, with the button in his mouth.  Still not having a clue, I think he must've found it on the ground.  I even praise him for bringing it to me! 

Now that the mirrorbacks are twinkling amongst the Bakelites and the daisies, I'm much happier with the layout.  It's too late to begin creating the bracelet, so I shut down the lights and prepare to retire for the night.  While I go about my business, the cat shadows me like the faithful companion he is.  Off to sleep I go only to be awakened several hours later by a strange sound.  It went kind of like plink, thud, pause, plink thud, pause.  Unable to think (I don't process well at 2 in the morning!) I groggily staggered out of bed, stepped on a Lego, barely stopped myself from swearing, and headed towards the sound.  What I found was Spaz, up on my work table, happily batting buttons off 1 at a time.  He'd bat the button, wait for it to hit the floor, hop down, grab it and take it away.  Then he'd be back to do it all over again.

Turning on the light, I discovered about half my buttons for the bracelet were missing.  All the charms and beads were still there, he'd just been stealing the buttons.  You'd think being caught would have some effect, but no, he looked up as if to say "Isn't this fun?  Want to play?" and went right back to destroying my bracelet.  About then I decided it was a good night for him to sleep in the garage!

The next morning I begin the hunt (again) for my buttons.  Not in the workroom, not on the floor there, the kitchen or the living room.  Bathroom and family room are empty as well.  I know they're not in the kids rooms as they sleep with their doors closed (It's either that or be attacked by the kamikaze cat at 3 in the morning!  Spaz's thought process goes something like this:  "I want to sleep with you so I must first dive bomb your head!")  Where, oh where could my buttons be?

Decided I could get down on all fours and try to figure it out or I could let the cat lead the way.  Digging out the mirrorback from the day before, I attached a piece of yarn to it, left it on the table and walked away.  Sure enough, the cat couldn't resist the lure of the button.  I watched as he quickly dashed into the living room.  Following behind, the button was gone before I got there, but the attached string gave it away.  He'd hidden it beneath the cushion where he sleeps.  Removing the cushion from his bed I discovered about 20 buttons!  Seems he'd been stealing buttons for awhile.  Curious to see if this was the only hiding place, I dumped the wicker basket containing cat toys.  You guessed it, more buttons.   On to the couch.  The couch is too low to the ground for a cat to get under as there is only about 2 inch of clearance.  Grabbing a flashlight and laying on the floor (whereupon the cat promptly laid down on my back!) I looked under the couch and found more buttons.  He'd evidently used his paw to push them back as far as he could.  At this point I could be heard murmuring "I love my cat, I love my cat" over and over again as I fought the urge to throttle him.  Not that I could, as he was still curled up smack in the middle of my back purring away!  Rescuing my buttons, I shook them at him and said in my sternest voice "NO!  Bad kitty!  My buttons!"  Now, if I'd used that tone with a dog I would've gotten a head and tail hung down in shame.  But Spaz?  He looked up, grinned his grin and did his little happy dance on his too large feet! 

Needless to say, and much to his dismay, the cat is now banned from the workroom.  I feel a bit guilty about that as he does love to curl up in a spot of sunlight and nap while I'm working, but when it comes to my buttons I'm gonna save them from that cat!  Of course that doesn't solve the problem of the buttons I displayed. I've got them in decorative glass baskets, interesting bowls and jars throughout the house.  My husband jokes that the only room that doesn't have buttons in it is the bathroom!  Until I figure out how to keep him out of my buttons I'll be spending a lot of time reminding myself "I love my kitty, I love my kitty" that AND crawling around on the floor looking for my buttons!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fun Friday Finds

If you're a button lover you have to take time to see this!  This lady's button collection is absolutely amazing. 

Even better, the buttons have been displayed in amazing ways.  There's buttons by category on standard display cards and then there are buttons that have been used to create art.  Lots of pictures and well worth the visit.  Just looking at all those lovely buttons makes me want to go button hunting!  House cleaning and work can wait there are new buttons to be found!  Hope you have a great weekend and may all your finds be good ones.  Feel free to stop by and share your treasures.  I always love seeing cool buttons!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's a great day for Goofies!

I love Goofies or realistics (O.k. let's face it, if it's an interesting button of any kind I probably love it!)  They almost always make me smile.  Technically, Goofies are plastic realistic buttons dating from the 30s - 50s era.  They can be in any shape or theme.  You can find circus characters, devils, fruit and lots of animal buttons.  They're often made from either Bakelite or Celluloid.  Buttons made from other types of material or from a different date range are usually referred to as realistics, though people often refer to newer buttons as novelty or snap-together. 

Whichever term you use, the buttons all have one thing in common.  They are made to look like an every day, ordinary object.  Although some can be quite expensive (such as a Weeber fruit) others can be had fairly cheaply.  Thus, if you're just starting a button collection this is a fun category to collect.  Plus, since this category includes modern day buttons as well, there are lots of fun finds out there.  Since I make jewelry from both vintage and contemporary buttons, I can often be found in the button aisle at my local craft store.  There's always something that gets my creative juices flowing.   Being that Halloween is just around the corner, this is what I've done with some new novelty buttons:

This bracelet is currently listed on Ebay and is made from a novelty packet of halloween buttons plus a few interesting teardrop beads.  Definitely fits the Halloween theme as there are pumpkins, tombstone, a ghost, potion, spell book and other spooky stuff all of which started out as buttons!

Goofies and realistics - fun to collect, fun to create with, and always guaranteed to make you smile.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Buttons, string them one by one thus a charm string is begun

Button charm strings are a unique part of American history.  Also known as memory strings, they were all the range in the 1860s and remained popular up to the 1900s.  According to folklore, when a girl collected 1000 buttons on her string she would meet her prince charming.

Now, you couldn't just string a bunch of buttons together as there were rules to this game.  The buttons were to be one-of-a kind, with a pretty or interesting theme.  The girl was not to buy them, they were to be given by friends and family members.  They could also be traded with another stringer.   Until the string was completed, it was kept in plain view as a way to inspire visitors to contribute buttons.  I'm sure, much as we do today,  stories were also recounted about how certain buttons were acquired. There were bound to be buttons on the string that commemorated events as well, such as the button from grandma's wedding dress, a mourning button from the time of an uncle's death, etc.

Strings were always begun by tieing on a large button known as a touch button.   The material used for stringing was either ordinary string or wire.  The girl would continue stringing on the prettiest,  finest small glass and jeweled buttons of the period. Original charm strings of the late 1800s often had a large quantity of very small and dainty glass buttons, Victorian metals, and early paperweight buttons.. It wasn't uncommon to also find non-button items on the string such as religous amulets, small carved wooden charms, coins and other small items.

Nowadays it is very rare to find a charm string.  In truth, most strings never made it to the required 1000 buttons.  Many strings were destroyed, with the buttons being used or divided up amongst family members.  Still others fell to the hands of button collectors who couldn't resist taking the buttons off the string.

If you actually do happen upon a string of buttons, it is wise to check to see if you actually have a charm string as they are quite collectible and valuable.  The way to do this is to first look at the age and condition of the string or wire.  Secondly, look at the buttons themselves to see if they were made during the proper time frame (roughly 1850-1900) 

Charm strings are thought to have eventually led to the practice of charm quilts (also known as memory or friendship quilts)  With the quilts the practice was somewhat the same in that the goal was to make a crazy quilt with no 2 pieces of fabric being the same.  While both practices are now things of the past, it doesn't mean you can't revive them and start your own charm string - all you need is a few good buttons!

Should you be lucky enough to own a vintage charm string I'd love to see your pictures!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Best places to find buttons

Vintage and collectible buttons can be found in all kinds of places.  Of course the easiest (and cheapest) place is to simply ask family and friends if they have any old buttons.  Many people are more than willing to give up that old button box that's been sitting around gathering dust. 

Of course half the fun of button collecting is the hunt itself.  In a way it's like hunting for buried treasure.  You never know what little gem will turn up in that ordinary pile of buttons.  There are so many places to seek out buttons that the list is almost endless!  

Estate sales often yield good results.  Even if you don't see any buttons out, asking if they have some will often net a good group of buttons.  People often don't think of grandma's button box as being something that will sell.
Next on the list would be your local antique or resale shops.  If you don't want to spend a lazy afternoon going from shop to shop, calling and asking if they have buttons is easy enough.  Again, if you are at the shop and don't see any, ask.  One of our local shops never has any buttons out, but if I ask she usually pulls some out of drawer somewhere.  Seems she throws them in there when she finds them mixed in with other things.  Luckily for me she sells them cheap!

Another great place for buttons is auctions.  If you enjoy local auctions or have always wanted to try one but aren't sure where to find them, you will benefit from checking out Auction Zip    This website allows you to search for auctions within a set distance from your zip code.  It then brings up the choices by date and auctioneer.  Once you click on an auction, you'll usually find the auction house has posted both a general description of items as well as photos of some of the items.  Auctions can be a lot of fun and net some great buttons.  Of course internet auctions are also popular.  Everyone has heard of Ebay and it can be an excellent place both for large lots of buttons and individual buttons.  Since it is so popular, competition can be stiff.  An excellent but lesser known site is Proxibid.  Proxibid merges real auctions with online ones.  You can search for specific items and it will bring up auctions happening within the next few weeks.  Click on a link and you can see the item and leave a bid if desired.  On the actual day and time of the auction you can follow the live link in real time.  There you can either watch each lot as it comes up or bid against others - both online and at the auction.  Since most auction houses charge a premium for internet bidding, it always pays to read the house rules before you bid. 

Besides these ways to find buttons there are many button sites as well.  Doing a google search will bring up 100s of choices.  Join a forum and you'll be amazed at how many people are selling buttons or willing to share good websites to buy buttons.  Joining the National Button Society and your state or local club are also excellent sources.  Not only will you get tons of really useful information, you'll also learn great sources for buttons. 

Speaking of the National Button Society (NBS) the yearly convention is a button collector's dream.  Buttons in every conceivable shape, size and material or on display.  Some are entered in competition, others for sale plus there are LOTS of button vendors!  If you go, bring cash as you won't be able to resist!  The convention is held in a different state each year so it's possible to plan your vacation around the convention.  The NBS always has details posted well in advance.