Amidst the organic yarn and hand knitted creations at the New England Needlework Association show was a colorful display of vintage buttons. Button Crafts are one of the oldest crafts. Vintage buttons make unique embellishments for lots of DIY projects. The bins of antique buttons at the NENA show were pure eye candy for crafters.
Why collect vintage buttons?
Vintage buttons are valued as nostalgic artifacts and as art. Years ago many women had button jars or button boxes. Whether items were handmade or store bought, when an article of clothing no longer was wearable, the buttons would be cut off and reused on something else - an early example of recycling.
Many of the buttons found today are unique and one of a kind. Some are highly collectable. There is even a National Button Society that emphasizes the preservation and study of clothing buttons. They publish information about buttons, and examine the preservation of the aesthetic and historical significance of buttons for future generations.
The History of Buttons
"The earliest known buttons were excavated from tombs in Egypt, Greece and Persia and date to 4000 B.C. They were made of gold, glass, bone and earthenware. It is thought that they were purely ornamental…Earlier buttons in the 17th century were mostly made of fabric like silk or velvet although there were a few pieces of clothing that shone with diamond buttons, mostly the nobility." ~ Button Collecting, Do-It-101
Where to find vintage buttons:
Bins of vintage and antique buttons can be found at garage and tag sales, antique shops and flea markets. There are lots of online sources for finding old buttons. Etsy and eBay have a nice array of vintage buttons to choose from.
What to look for:
Over the years, buttons have been made by a variety of materials: pearl, glass, rhinestone, Bakelite, china, fabric, wood, celluloid, horn, pewter, cinnabar, fur, Lucite, silver, brass, coral, enameled, bone, leather, pottery, rubber, ivory, steel, cork, tortoiseshell, ivory, paper mache, porcelain, bamboo, cloisonné, and jewels. Photo Credit: Ronnie Citron-Fink 10 DIY Vintage Button Projects 1. Simple Button Necklace 2. Vintage Button Display 3. Simple Button Clips 4. Button Bauble 5. Button Clock 6. Woven Button Coaster 7. Button Bag 8. Button Birdhouse 9. Button Curtain Tieback 10. Giant Button Mosaic More vintage button inspiration: These whimsical bracelets, assorted jewelry and button cuffs are wearable eco-art.