When I was visiting my parents last summer my dad gave me a beautiful old tin full of buttons saved by my Granny who died before we could pour over them together. I first wrote it as her “collection” but that was not right. I have collections of things, wonderfully frivolous things like wooden men with moustaches and Swiss chalet barometers but this was something else. My granny saved these to use. The kind of repurposing that wasn’t bloggable but rather a necessity. How fast I have traveled from her mindset.
When I was younger I marveled at how far I had traveled from her circumstances. She gave birth to her 4 children in a house with a dirt floor surrounded by farmland in a place literally named, The Great Dismal. I was born in Thailand and grew up traveling back and forth between Bangkok and the United States. I did not save my buttons for a very long time. I cringe to think how many of those “extra buttons” packets I have tossed in the trash with the tags of my new clothes. I remember refusing to eat an apple from the tree that grew in my other grandmother’s yard because I was wary of fruit that didn’t come from a super market and have a waxy sheen to it.
My granny who prepared many a dinner for her family from meat trapped and/or hunted by my granddaddy must have seen me as so strange when I announced in college that I was a vegetarian. How privileged and foreign to her I must have seemed. And now we are moving in a direction that would have looked more familiar to my granny, partially fueled by the economy but coupled with a general move toward simplicity and a desire to make a change. A change in the lives of our families and in the greater world. I am not growing my own food or buying locally exclusively. I am not biking to work or driving an electric car but I no longer throw away my buttons and it’s a start. A start I think my granny would be proud of.
I finally dug into the stash to make a ring for the sister of a boy becoming Bar Mitzvahed this weekend. The beautiful Jodie over at RicRac has a great tutorial that inspired me to give a whirl. The ring to the right of the “extra buttons” ephemera is the one I made for Sarah. I think the bottom button is made from shell? Any help identifying? She is 10 and I hope she likes it. While I was making them I made one for myself to wear this weekend as well. That brown and red one is all for me! This is a really easy and fun thing to do with buttons if you haven’t tried it yourself.
It a great feeling to wear something on my finger that my granny saved, sewed, touched and possibly wore herself. So thank you for the buttons granny and for the lessons it took me a long time to learn.