Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday's Throw Aways - Week 21

Growing up my family lived in the upstairs of my grandparents two-family house. Seven of us squeezed comfortably in four rooms.

My grandmother was a seamstress in a local sewing factory. Sewing was something she also did at home. Both she and my mother were accomplished seamstresses and outfitted my two sisters and I for many special ocassions as well as for our ordinary life.

We had, thanks to my grandmother, several cookie tins full of buttons and we often pulled them out to "play" with them.

This Sunday, in my quest to add just the right button to this week's project, I was sent back in time. Although I don't have the tins of buttons from my mother's house, I do have a collection of my own. Some are new and still in packages, while some are in jars or small tins - these are ones that I've collected from garage sales and flea markets.

I grabbed a jar that still had a tag on it telling me that I had paid $1 for these particular buttons. I guess I hadn't ever opened the jar before, because when I did this time I was slightly grossed out because there was some oily residue around the top of the jar.

I brought the jar downstairs and dumped the contents into a colander. I was my intention just to rinse those buttons off, dry them and pick out the ones that I thought I would use. But it was a warm summer day and I was transformed back to my childhood and I stood over that colander and started sorting the contents of the jar.
There were metal findings in there besides the buttons. These had to be removed so they wouldn't get rusty from the rinse.
There were buttons with faux rhinestones in them that needed to be sorted out because I didn't want the jewels to fall out.
And there were buttons that were obviously cut from old clothing that still had the threads in them. I carefully pulled and cut off those threads so those buttons also could be rinsed.
Some of the buttons did look kind of beat up. I don't know that I would have noticed that as a child, but on Sunday I thought that those buttons might have been old enough to have gone through the washing machine many times which would cause all that wear and tear.

How thrifty this person was that put these buttons and findings into this jar in the first place. I was reminded how our parents and grandparents really did practice recycling on a daily basis.

Which brings me to this week's project.

Believe it or not, it's really not about the buttons. My project this week was highlighting how I reused a printed paper bag.

The bag in question was printed to look like an old newspaper. I punched out some circles and scrunched them up a bit. Then I took a needle and thread and with a couple of stitches attached them in layers. Then I added the buttons as centers. They make pretty flowers don't you think?
But I wasn't done there. I added the wooden accents that once were a coffee stirrer from IKEA and ice cream "spoons" from some dixie cups eaten long ago.
Oh, and that little bee you see is also a button that I found in one of those unopened packages I had.
The buttons are clean now and back in the jar - layered according to color. I just couldn't resist sorting them. What a memory!


  1. I can't believe all those buttons stored away. Right at the time I've decided to totally purge my house when I go home. The older (and odder) I get, the more I realize that our lives are nothing more than "what we leave behind" that amounts to a cardboard box being hauled to the Goodwill. Ow! I came here and totally bummed myself out and you too in the bargain!

    On a good note, don't you just LOVE newsprint!! I've recently discovered the joy of using it in hearts. LOVE the way your mind works. MINE? Not so much. lol

  2. Lorraine,
    My grandmother also had a box of buttons that as children we would spend hours sorting and stacking and color coding. The were kept in a wooden box that my grandfather made, and painted and ungodly green color, the box was hinged and had a decorative hook and eye type closure in the front. I know that my parents inherited it when my Grandmother passed, but I haven't seen it in years. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Oh my gosh I loved this story. It is so endearing. I love special memories and things that take me back in time. Your reflection today almost made me feel like I was there. What an amazing adventure your family must have had with all of you in that small place. I wish our society today would just relax and not be so materialistic. Thanks for sharing this. Your project is beautiful.


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