CRASH POW! Set my Buttons Free


A detail of my quilt Crash Pow! with buttons

I have a ton of buttons. Every time I cut up a piece of clothing I cut off the buttons.  Some are beautiful or really unique, some are those small cloudy plastic ones that make a piece of clothing look cheap.  I don’t distinguish, I keep them all.  Not because I have a plan for them, but because it seems wrong to throw them away.   In the all years I’ve been making art, I’ve used only a handful of buttons.

One of the reasons I’ve never used them is because I’ve seen them used so often and I’ve always had the idea to use them in an original way.  But I’ve come to see that this kind of thinking is a curse.  It stopped me from making art many times throughout my life.   In the past it stopped me from doing much of the work I’m doing now.

But when it came to buttons I had a blind spot.  Until today.  I’ve used button here and there on a quilt or two, but never on the whole thing.  I can only think the idea of not using buttons on a quilt  is one of those old ideas that got stuck somewhere inside of me that no longer has any relevance in my life.  But stuck it was.   So today instead of trying to understand it or rationalize it or question it, I just started tacking buttons on my quilt.

In a way it’s an act of defiance, against my old way of thinking, against being stuck, against fear, against the strange rules I’ve made for myself that never served me.

And, you know,  I just got tired of having all those buttons around.  Tired of the rules I’ve made up for myself that seem so dire and serious  “THOU SHALT NOT USE BUTTON ON YOUR QUILTS”.    Maybe I’m ready to lighten it up a little more, have some more fun, move some of those buttons.  Those tins of buttons get heavy after a while.  Buttons were made to be seen and move around not sit in a tin getting green.  I’m gonna set those buttons free, give them their life back  and unstick what’s stuck inside of me.

14 thoughts on “CRASH POW! Set my Buttons Free

  1. The picture unnerved me. So that partway through reading your post I felt eyes looking at me in the picture, and I had to glance at the quilt. I saw the eyes were actually buttons. But the longer I looked at the buttons, the more they felt like eyes!

  2. Great and inspiring story, Maria. The “Button” concept can be applied to a few things in my life that I have traditionally avoided, and can’t remember why! Thanks for getting me thinking! I’m hoping to see you on Mother’s Day weekend!

  3. Maria,
    Your button blog brought many wonderful memories for me. My Grandmother always cut buttons from any piece of clothing (a Depression era saving!) and kept the collection in a metal tin box. As a child, I spent many hours stringing her buttons into necklaces & bracelets and enjoying her collection (she would sit with me & relate where many of the buttons came from). As my children, her great grandchildren, visited her, they also enjoyed the same “stringing & recalling” sessions. Three generations of enjoying her buttons! Keep collecting…..

  4. Oh I like this notion – setting your buttons free – freeing yourself from your own rules – we can be our own worst enemy. To me a collection of buttons is a whimsical thing (if you show them off in a container), letting them out to fly off on their own makes plenty of sense to me.

  5. You go girl!
    About two years ago i did a watercolor painting that had a space theme for my granddaughter. I used buttons for planets and stars.
    It was fun!

  6. Hi Maria, Setting the buttons free again! Aprons of Silence quilt has two really cool orange beehive like buttons a top of the piece where Rita is throwing off her apron. And three large green twirly buttons on an awesome tiny green printed apron piece.
    I love buttons and was also taught to save all those tiny baggies with two buttons in them off every piece of clothing I purchased. And if they were sewn in an inseam I had to cut them out and save them!(orders from ‘the War Dept.'(my mother.RIP)

  7. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels it’s wrong to throw out buttons. I have a container that has drawers filled with buttons. They were my mother’s and I remember playing with them when I was a child. My son did the same when he was little. I would love to give them to someone who would use them but I just can’t part with them.

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