We had an afternoon of buttons at doll club yesterday. I learned so much! One thing I learned was about old celluloid button and how they deteriorate and damage other buttons in their vicinity. I saw examples of what a deteriorating button looks like. I came home and went through all my buttons again. I have now separated out the bad buttons and will decide if I can bring myself to just throw them away. An afternoon of button talk couldn’t have come at a better time for me- since I’d just organized all of mine.

Thanks for all the advise about having my quilt done- I stopped at a local quilt shop yesterday and got the names of several people to call. I’m excited about it!

I actually spent a little time on a doll today. I want to finish my December, before changing to Christmas present mode, dolls. There are a few cut out and even 3 that are stuffed and ready to finish. It would be so easy to leave them and get started on something new but then they haunt me. I know I will feel better if I finish them up.

*Update* photos of those BAD buttons

the celluloids-


I hope this is clear enough. I will also post them to flickr, where you can look at them very big. Do you see all the little cracks? They get bigger and bigger and then the buttons crumble.

the metals-


Funny thing is, I was looking for this kind of green corrosion when I was making this robot.

I understand that both of these types of deterioration are “contagious” and affected buttons should be removed from the rest of your collection.

18 thoughts on “buttons

  1. When I read this post, a shiver of terror ran down my spine. I have many, many old buttons collected from grandmothers, in-laws, etc. and they are all sorted by color, but not by type. How does one determine what a celluloid button is? What should I look for? I really treasure my button collection and would hate to ruin it through ignorance.

    Good luck with the quilt. Make sure that if you hire someone to quilt it for you that you see several examples of what they have done and make sure that they know EXACTLY what you want. I’ve known people who have told professional machine quilters “oh, do what you want, I’m sure it will look good” and then be very, very disappointed because they really did have an idea of what they wanted, they just couldn’t or wouldn’t articulate it to the quilter.

  2. I will try to post a photo tomorrow. What I learned (among other things) is don’t mix plastic and metal buttons in the same container. Also, buttons should not be kept in air-tight containers or sealed plastic bags… So much to know!

  3. Yes please do post your knowledge, i had no idea about these thing. i too have lots of old buttons i rescued from my great grand mother and would hate to loose them.

  4. I didn’t know any of that stuff about buttons. I just throw them all in to containers willy nilly.
    But i do know what you mean about being haunted by projects. I always feel better when they are done and then I can move on. (But the temptation for something new often wins out)

  5. My grandmother brought back a roll of fabric from Japan. What she did was to cut it into squares, hand roll the edges and voila! she had lots of napkins. I still have some.

  6. Wow, that’s fascinating and useful at the same time. I hope my stash isn’t harboring any baddies.

    Wow, all my buttons are in sealed canning jars, too! Maybe I can replace the metal lid part with some mesh or something…

  7. I am not certain, but I think loosening up the lids might be enough. Or taking the lids off and on regularly. Something about plastics releasing gases…

  8. thanks for posting the pic. Buttons are such funny little things. They are like pirate treasure, i hide them away, don’t wont to share them, and secretly collect them where ever i can find them, Although i do refrain from steeling them.

  9. Gee, I never realized that there were bad buttons and that they would attack the good ones. I’ll go through and weed those bad ones out! Beth

  10. In my recent button sort, I came across a fair number of these corroding metal buttons. What a mess. I promptly sorted them out and tossed them. Many of the buttons were my mother’s. She hardly ever can bear to throw anything out. I think I did her a favor, even though I didn’t tell her I threw them out!!

  11. I glued my bad buttons onto a jar and then thoroughly modgepodged them. Now they can be seen, but not cause more trouble. I dream of figuring out how to imbed things in epoxy, but like I need another hobby. I figured my other option was to toss them, so permanent glueing seemed an ok thing to do. Also, when I bought some buttons at a show ( Stitches West? Maybe?) the vendor used a hole punch. like you use for paper to make the little tiny zip locked bags un- airtight. But still clear and, uhm, button-tight.

  12. I would feel the same reluctance about just throwing them away. Especially the fiery red and the green one, they are really pretty. In a way the cracks give them extra appeal. Maybe you could make a silicone mould and preserve the design. Celluloid is also highly flammable maybe that is enough reason to let them go.

  13. ok. so remove them, understand them..and then use them accordingly. Sometimes that ol crackity thing is just perfect…..such a shame. but, are we going to be around in 100 years when they crumble?

  14. The button meeting sounded very ineresting but I am out of town. (Charleston SC right now)
    Thanks for the information on the old buttons, makes me want to go home and check mine now. I don’t have too many real old ones. I do have some shoe buttons with shanks I will be sure to check, as the shanks are metal. I bought them years ago in Lawrence. I will surely check those out for rust. Love your new years baby with the owl. So cute !
    Have been to the good will 4 or 5 times this week but just to drop off. CLeaned out my cousins Garage. !

  15. How interesting! I had read something about celluloid dolls that deteriorated but I didn’t realize about the buttons. Thanks for the info!!

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