Double bi-centenary for Dorset Buttons – as I head into another year of creativity #2022

This year marks 400 years since the Dorset Button industry started to supply the British fashion industry with hand-made works of art. More knowledgable folk that me have written about its history but it’s worth taking time to read it; in our mass-produced society it’s easy to forget that so much was hand-made in poor light in people’s homes.

More recently, sparked partly by the quest historic accuracy in costume dramas, and partly by renewed interest in traditional crafts, interest has been renewed, and I count myself as one who has come late to the Dorset Button party. However, last year I seem to have tried to make up for it, and have actually lost count of the number of ‘buttons’ I’ve made.

There is just something about the whole form that has really sparked my imagination. The last couple of posts in this incredibly sporadic blog showed ‘seashores’ and a ‘cross’ which then inspired a sermon – not the last point in the year where creativity and calling met. The blog silence since has largely been filled with the sound of my brain giving off sparks, holes being drilled in seashells, and commissions being completed – an unexpected development. Above is a selection of my 2021 output, now all safely resident with their recipients, or kept for posterity.

Celebrations for this year’s Double Bicentenary of Dorset Buttons kicks off today with an “Worldwide Button-along” hosted by Jen Best of Beaker Buttons, the lady whose excellent instructions and creativity got me started on all this (and who’s shop is my main source of materials!). I am looking forward to seeing and being inspired by other people’s creativity, but in preparation felt I needed to expand my repertoire as there are many forms of ‘button’ to be mastered, and they don’t all involve yarn!

So, the last couple of evenings have seen me get a stash of ‘tippets’ of fabric out, and get to grips with the ‘Singleton’ form of Dorset Button. Once again, part of the delight of learning a new skill, is finding that a tiny scrap of material goes rather well with some modern multi-coloured cotton, and some 30+ year old daisy ‘trim’ unearthed from stash inherited from my mother, and beads that I’ve been gifted by friends to ‘feed my habit’. That’ll be up-cycling, recycling, and innovation all in one adaptation of a traditional craft – the results are shown below.

There are other delights to be shared soon too, not least using gifted threads to create posy-brooches, finishing a small wall-hanging inspired by the “hare-ways” of holidays in Suffolk, and the latest commission, a memorial piece with a Shakespearian flavour! Hopefully this DB of DBs (Double Bicentenary of Dorset Buttons) will also see me keeping a better record of the creative processes as they happen.

If you’re interested in buying or commissioning one of my creations, large or small, please look at my ETSY or get in touch via this blog or my other social media @ramtopsrac

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