Our Tower Garden arrived yesterday and we already have seeds prepared and planted. We are looking forward to lots of organic cucumbers, lettuce, basil, tomatoes, swiss chard, eggplant and peppers over the coming months. The spinach seeds (my favorite superfood) are on their way in the post. I will stop now, I know it's not technically handmade but its homegrown and thought it worth a little share here!
I've been working on small sewing projects, such as upcycling curtains into table runners and continue to work on my secret multi project. I've also made some more jewellry for the Aura Collection. Things are a little behind than planned but all will be revealed in good time.
Handmade Button: Bracelets hand sewn from antique or vintage buttons from the 1840's - 1940's. "Art for your wrist".
Style: Art Deco, Victorian and niche.
Favorite outing, since age 3- The Cleveland Museum of Art
When Emilie welcomes you into her home it is immediately evident that she's an avid collector. She has a range of collections, her favorite being vintage porcelain baby bowls. She loves what they represent and the history of each one. Unexpectedly, she doesn't consider herself a collector of buttons but rather more an artist who uses buttons to create.
Emilie came across the idea for button bracelets accidentally at a flea market in 2006, thinking, "I can do that and I think I can do better". In the same year her son was deployed to Iraq, responsible for escorting convoys and diffusing bombs on roads. This caused Emilie understandable anxiety and she found that making the bracelets helped to keep her calm and focused on something that tapped into her creative soul. She didn't look back and since then has earned herself recognition by having her bracelets sold by two national museum shops, The Museum of American Folk Art (in Manhattan) and the Museum of Women in the Arts (in Washington D.C.).
This is not the first time Emilie has been recognized for her work. She won the Laurel School Art Prize in 1969 for a story about her childhood experiences with a group of Amish friends that welcomed her into their fold. This nurtured Emilie's admiration for hard work, dedication to a job well done and simple living. This story was later accompanied by her own watercolor paintings and was then published. I felt honored when Emilie presented me with a copy of her book and will treasure it as reminder of meeting someone very talented and equally modest. In 1973 Emilie was awarded her Fine Art degree from Denison University. Emilie has always loved to use her hands to create and her talent spans across writing, needlework, painting, drawing, and photography, to name some.
Emilie generally uses buttons made from the 1840s to the 1940s.
Restoring the buttons that are part of “Aunt Minnie’s” collection. Emilie was approached by the great niece of an avid button collector, Minnie Esworthy Dunbar (1875-1967), a member of the National Button Society. She brought Emilie a large number of antique buttons that she had inherited from her beloved aunt. These included seven “trays” of button art which Minnie put together in the 1950s, when she was in her eighties. There were also many hundreds of loose buttons, from which Emilie was asked to make ten bracelets for the younger generation in the family. Given the cost of restoring the buttons and making the bracelets, Emilie and the niece came to an agreement that no money would change hands. Ten Victorian-style Mother of Pearl bracelets were “paid for” with the remainder of the button collection, giving Emilie scope for the restoration opportunity of her dreams. Below show pictures of the bracelets and each of the trays.
It is clear to me that Emilie has a wealth of experience and is cut from quality cloth. She is big hearted and talented. She explained to me that she has given away over 600 bracelets since she started Button Down Designs and that each time she has given one away, she has been the one who received. She takes joy in sharing her work and I will take great delight in using buttons from her stock. She is a true inspiration to anyone who appreciates all that is hand made.
Upcoming Open House dates:
Sunday, April 12 and Sunday, June 7, 1 to 5 P.M.
Sandy Millman, Yours Truly
Handmade Button: Purses