Diane Krys: Buttons


A weekend crop of garage sale signs caught my eye. One was close to home so took the bait. I circled around and around the tables until my inner magpie spied a small basket of buttons. I have a thing for buttons and like to pick up a few interesting ones when I find them. I use them in my creations or just keep them to look at. I think my fascination goes back to the jars and tins of buttons my mum used to have when I was growing up. My mum is a waste not want not homemaker and when our clothes were ready for the rag bag their final gesture was offering their buttons for the jar. I remember gleefully dumping and sorting them. These were the play things for a pre-technology generation.

One of my favourite button finds was during a holiday in Nova Scotia. A yard sale right on the side of the highway brought my husband and I to a screeching halt. Actually, the screeching started when I yelled stop, stOP,STOP! I had never seen home made button cards before yet they seemed such an obvious progression to sorting through the button jar. These particular buttons weren’t extravagant and the cards themselves rather primitive, but I found them oh so charming and could just picture someone extracting these little collections from a stock pile of saved buttons.


IMG_6996When I described these cards to the woman hosting the garage sale it triggered a dash into her home to bring out some of her button cards to show me. She was clearly a very serious collector and her cards were stunning. They were full of large, highly detailed antique buttons; the likes of which I have never seen before. By conversation’s end she had generously extended an invitation for me to come back to her home for a proper show and tell and to join her sometime when she attends a gathering of local button enthusiasts. Who knew a delightful portal into the world of international button collecting lived right in my neighborhood. The thrill of a garage sale treasure hunt is the unexpected find and in this case the gold had nothing to do with the wares. Of course,I did pick up a few buttons from the basket, how could I resist.

Here’s a few buttons from my collection.








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9 thoughts on “Diane Krys: Buttons

  1. Peggy, thanks for sharing the story of your lovely inheritance! I’ve thought about framing my button cards too but somehow I love their primitive state too much to bring myself to alter them in any way. I think you are right about there being a meditative experience in making them. Not unlike hooking and stitch work I imagine. It amazes me what creativity and beauty can come from working with what’s on hand-like a jar of old buttons!


  2. I, too, had never seen buttons fastened to such primitive cards until I received my mother-in-laws collection. There is a large box full of them. Hers were sorted into colours for the most part. Some are sorted by size and shape. I was ever so glad to come across your post – the cards were evenly divided into squares – just like your photo shows.
    I think I need to investigate this way of collection and sorting even further. Like you, I hesitate to remove them from the cards that they were so carefully and lovingly attached to. I have even thought of framing some of the cards to show on display.
    I somehow picture my MIL working – sewing these buttons onto the cards into the wee hours of the evening engaging herself in a calming practice – making order of her otherwise chaotic busy life.



  3. Maia, you must have quite an interesting collection with your family history. I love that you gave a speech on buttons! Thanks for sharing your story. And it’s always special to hear my work resonates for someone.


  4. Diane, I so enjoyed this post. I too have a thing for buttons. Inherited many – my 2Xgreat grandmother was a seamstress – hand-sewn long dresses with a gazillion tiny black jet buttons down the fronts. And my first public speech was “Buttons” – considered very odd indeed for an 11-year-old girl in the early 60s.
    PS. I love your work! It speaks to me.


  5. I certainly have all the supplies I need , so “yes” , I shall find the time and see what I can create. I really don’t remember having seen this little art form before. Thank you, Diane for your inspiration.


  6. Loved this post, Diane ! And wow , button cards ….. I have just got to research this more. I, too, have jars of buttons that I have kept over the years. Thank you for a delightful read before retiring for the night.


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