Grandmother’s Button Box

Did your mother have a button box? Mine did; maybe she still does. It was a shiny green and gold Christmas tin, filled to the top with beautiful buttons of every description. When I was a child, I spent hours sifting through it, sorting the baubles by color and size, appreciating the cheerful clatter as I scooped up handfuls and watched them fall through my open fingers.

My grandmother enjoyed crafting and sewing too. Growing up, I spent a week of every summer vacation at her house, and the two of us whiled away many happy hours embroidering felt animals and piecing quilt blocks. In her later years, though, Grandmother was diagnosed with macular degeneration; eventually, she became completely blind and unable to do the hand work she loved and gave away most of her supplies. But after she died, I put together a small basket of some of her beautiful old things.

Old lace, wooden thread spools, darning eggs, a thimble, and shell buttons.
My grandmother has been gone sixteen years now; today, inspired by this blog post and a subsequent email conversation with its author, I made some simple earrings from six matching mother-of-pearl buttons, a handful of jump rings, and a pair of sterling silver ear wires. 
Thanks to Santa! Carolina for the idea.

I plan to use the rest of Grandmother’s buttons to make a necklace, a charm-style bracelet, and at least one more pair of dangly earrings.

Next, I will move to my own button box. It contains the leftovers from the long-ago days of sewing for myself and my young boys. And somewhere I have a bag of extra buttons from garments I have purchased over the years. I need to track that down and add them to the collection too.

But I have other unique items I intend to incorporate into some special jewelry pieces.

A map, sand and a seashell, and a black pearl from Tahiti.
The key to my brother Greg‘s house in southern Illinois.

These mementos will probably be transformed into pendants. When they are finished, I will post pictures here.

Have you ever incorporated memorabilia or family heirlooms into jewelry, crafts or home decor?