Button Memories from Liz Smith of Made in Lowell!

Happy Thursday! After a long break of wedding madness and just plain forgetfulness, I am bringing you another installment of my button memories series! Liz Smith from Made in Lowell (a fellow Twitter friend) & it’s her birthday! Happy Birthday Liz!

Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).My name is Liz Smith, I run a business called Made in Lowell. I have a studio in an old textile mill in Lowell, Mass. I have an online shop at Etsy http://madeinlowell.etsy.com/ where I sell my whimsical handfelted goodies, polymer clay creations and paper goods.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?Mostly I create things!

Why buttons?Vintage buttons are not only intrinsically fascinating and satisfying objects, they have inherent history. They are from eras when it seems like more time and thought was given to creating even the most mundane items. I love the shapes, designs, colors and materials of old buttons. But mostly, when I am sorting them or looking through them to pick out the perfect one for a project, I feel their history; I imagine the garment they were on, the person who carved the mother of pearl, the time in which they existed when new.

Do you collect them?Oh yes 🙂 I buy them at thrift shops, yard sales and antique shops. I have them arranged by color in glass jars in my studio. If so, What was your first memory of buttons?Actually probably from a picture! I think it must have been the House of Cards by Charles and Ray Eames. http://www.eamesgallery.com/cart/detail_prod.php?id=254 My parents gave them to me to play with when I was very small and the carefully composed photographs of ordinary objects repeated across the surface really informed my aesthetic as well my interest in collections of varied but similar objects ie: a jar of shells, marbles and of course, buttons 🙂http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2483/3641754491_17ee51515c.jpg

Did you grow up with: Button Box, Button Jar, Button Tin?Yes, but I don’t remember it being of great fascination when I was small. I’ll have to ask my mom. She had a fond memory of her grandmother’s button tin and going through it when she was little. I now have my grandmother’s tin and I can’t bring myself to use any of the buttons in it. I want to preserve it as a whole

Where is it now?My mom still has her button basket, she still uses the buttons to repair garments!

What/who inspires you?My mother inspires me. She had a humble upbringing with many family difficulties in a rural part of the midwest in the 1940’s. Yet she became an artist, a kind and thoughtful person with a sophisticated aesthetic and a non-judgemental but discerning eye. And also my craft supplies inspire me. I try to arrange them attractively in my studio because just looking at those jars of buttons makes me excited about creating.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?I am a bit of a hoarder, so there are many possessions that hold special meaning. One in particular is a pair of knitted baby booties made by an elderly acquaintance many years ago. Sophie was a spinner and a knitter already in her 80’s when I met her. I asked her to make some baby booties with fleecy lining for a friend who was expecting. When I got the precious booties wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a piece of handspun yarn, I was unable to pass them on to my friend and kept them. I don’t have children and wont, but I am so glad to have something Sophie made especially now that she is gone.

Thanks so much Liz for sharing your button story! I love the story about the baby booties and the story about the House of cards! Check out Liz’s work at her website: http://madeinlowell.com/ & her blog: http://madeinlowell.blogspot.com/

One Response

  1. Thanks for the lovely birthday gift of posting this, I really enjoyed particpating in your series!

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