January 16, 2014 - 3:16 am

Right on the button

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A trip to a local thrift shop almost always uncovers a treasure, and a recent trip I made was certainly not a disappointment. It wasn’t a significant purchase in either dollars or importance. It was simply a round ball with buttons pinned to it.

The pins were fairly new, with round, colored heads, and there were two bows made of vintage cloth at the top. The ball had a big red button on it, and I’ve been looking for just the right big red vintage button. The price was $1.99, so into my cart it went.

I intended to remove the buttons and add them to my button box, but first I took a closer look. Someone took a lot of time to pin all those old buttons to a Styrofoam ball. I assume it was made to be decorative. Were the buttons from someone’s collection or her mother’s or grandmother’s collection? Was this a memory ball? The fabric bows were definitely vintage, possibly ’40s. But the base was certainly newer.

Button ball1What is the story behind this treasure?

I’m a victim of “Antiques Roadshow.” I keep thinking that someday, I’m going to stop at a thrift store and pick up an amazing treasure for almost nothing. Well, this button ball isn’t that treasure. The buttons alone are worth more than the price I paid. But it definitely isn’t a valuable treasure. What it is, at least in my mind, is a piece of sewing folk art. Quilts that I find often talk to me, and this ball of buttons is talking to me. It says, don’t take me apart. I’m pretty. I’m special.

So it’s going on the shelf with my other sewing collectibles. And I’m still searching for the big red button.

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.

5 Responses to “Right on the button”

  1. What a wonderful story. My grandmother had tons of buttons, vintage fabrics and buttons in her sewing stash . She used to make these Christmas ornaments that looked like patchwork quilts by pushing the fabrics into the styrofoam balls into a pattern and then topping them off with ribbon and a flat head pin. And she used to stick buttons with pins into styrofoam balls as well some times. This reminded me of her. She passed away in 2001 from a brief 3-4 year battle with alzheimers disease. So this brought back some wonderful memories of times spent with her and the things she used to create from items as simple as buttons and a styrofoam ball. So I am sure this too was someone’s Grandmother’s or Mother’s and now shall be your wonderful ball of Folk Art and Treasure. Enjoy it !

  2. Lovely story and I agree that it is Folk Art. I have tons of buttons in antique jars from my Grandmother. She owned a dry cleaning business and had tons of loose buttons for me to play with.
    XOXOXOXO Subee

  3. Donna, what a wonderful story. I agree with you about leaving it…makes me wonder what the story is behind it but it does appear to be special. I have a box of buttons my grandmother gave to me, this would be the perfect thing to do with them in memory. Thank you for your story.

  4. :) I’m just like you Donna, I shop Goodwill/Thrift Shops/Yard Sales all the time and when something like this catches my eye, I just can’t resist it, I agree, don’t take it apart, it’s beautiful the way it is, possibly a Christmas Ornament or a way to corral single buttons, either way, it’s very pretty :)

  5. Love this article and the fact that you are keeping the ball as found for prosperity. I too love thrift shop treasures and often stop at a few of my favorites. You never know what quilty treasure will be uncovered. Just joined your site and am looking forward to further articles and inspiration. Mona in Melbourne, FL

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