Last night my husband, Johntimothy, came home from teaching his printmaking classes at the University with this nice handful of old buttons. Some weeks before, he'd taken in some old shirts to turn into rags and he and his students had spent part of the afternoon cutting them up for use in the shop. "Save the buttons!" he called out to them, thinking of the collection of old buttons I keep in a jar in the studio. After he unloaded them on the counter, he started to work the bits of thread and clinging cloth left on them, but I stopped him. No, save the bits left on, I told him....they are part of the memory, part of the trace and the history of those buttons, of the clothing and of you.
My sudden pronouncement to save the vestiges left on the buttons reminded me of a tiny book I made decades ago. Relics featured buttons from my collection with tiny fragments of stories of the people who had worn the garment that once held the button. The book is housed in a plexiglas box filled
with buttons of various sizes in all shades that might be known as white.
Oh wait....I detect some random color in there!!!
Each tiny page of the book had a fragment of a story from a day in the life of someone who was wearing a garment that once held that button. I typed them up on an old typewriter and slipped the little story, along with the button, into a tiny plastic bag. They were held in the accordion folds of the cover, which was a piece of primed canvas with an image transfer of buttons on it. I've never made anything else like it and I'm not sure what possessed me to make that, nor how I would have even known how to go about it back then....except that the book fairly well made itself, even as those fictional stories tumbled from my imagination, sad and bittersweet.
I'm a believer that the material world, the objects that surround us, even the humble buttons that adorn our garments, tell stories and serve as touchstones of our history. Like a cairn, this little pile of buttons Johntimothy poured out onto the kitchen counter serves as a kind of marker on the path, a simple reminder of a life lived.
I will leave you with the second piece in the Autumn Suite Series...a floating memory of falling leaves as they tumble down from the trees in a cascade of color. I do love autumn....it's still pretty green and fairly warm here, but the colors are definitely changing and I'm refreshed by the cool, crisp mornings.
Enjoy your weekend!