Monday, 9 August 2010

In praise of small things- part four - buttons

A button. Not chocolate or belly. Not a description of a chin or a mushroom. Not an instruction to button up or a warning to button down. This post is a short homage to that humble object with holes. The small but perfectly formed, functional and fascinating fastener.
The variety is almost endless. All shapes and sizes; countless materials - metal, polyester, wood, pearl, shell, leather, rubber, nylon, plastic, acrylic.......
When I was a kid, we had a button tin. I think it was an old Quality Street container from a long ago Christmas. In it we kept the spare buttons from new clothes, saved buttons from old shirts just before they became cleaning cloths, and fallen buttons that were being kept safe until returned to their rightful places.


I loved playing with them, lifting up a handful to let them run through my fingers; sorting them by size and colour.  When I first set up house, I kept buttons in an old pasta jar. It pleased me to watch the pile gradually deepening as the jar filled up. Nowadays, rather than jumble up all my buttons, I use an old spice rack. Each of the glass jars holds a different colour of button. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of my cooking skills will appreciate that the jars get far better use this way.
 I still like to sort them, and sometimes I like to think that each button might have a story; a tale of where it used to belong and how it came to be in a glass jar in  the cupboard-under-the-stairs.
After all, there can't be that many small objects that can be done up to create a feeling of warmth and comfort, or undone to create a feeling of quite something else.


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9 comments:

Baglady said...

Lovely. Short and sweet :)

Philip said...

Marvellous. I can't think of a button based pun.

Mr London Street said...

What a lovely way of looking at something so small, comforting yet significant. I'm really enjoying this series of posts and happy that there are more to come.

Madame DeFarge said...

My mum had a button jar. Always could be relied upon to find something that matched.

mapstew said...

We too had a button tin! We used to use them as play money when we were little. :¬)

xxx

Liz said...

I liked that, Sharon.

Pat said...

I still have a large glass jar full of every kind of button used in the last 70 years or so.
I'm afraid it gives me the creeps. I inherited it when I took over MTL's household decades ago and somehow couldn't bring myself to jettison it.
I also have a carved wooden box where I put the spare buttons attached to new garments, although i can't remember ever using them. These I don't mind. Funny that.

Eryl Shields said...

I once gave my best friend a jar of buttons for her birthday, you'd have thought I'd given her the deeds to a mews in Belgravia the way she reacted.

Charlie said...

Buttons are my sole sewing skill, but I never seem to have the proper color thread to match. Perhaps I should collect thread to complement your button collection.