My Grandmother kept a box of buttons which I loved to play with as a child, and I often delve into that box now when I need to replace a button on a school shirt, or decorate a bag with one of the more elaborate ones. I particularly loved the mother of pearl buttons and wanted to work with them somehow. One day, when I was going through my “less important” bead boxes, I saw some old pearls which had the same quality about them as the pearl buttons and I started to get an idea of what I wanted to do. I’d make a fun whipped cord belt, dotted with pearls and pearly buttons.
I made the whipped cord from a large skein of embroidery yarn in varying shades of green, and added in some metallic gold thread. Then I began to sew on the buttons, but after a few, I looked at it and thought – BORING. This wouldn’t do – the holes in the buttons were forlorn and empty, so they had to be beaded. Out came the size 15s, crystals and some brassy sequins and a whole new colour scheme began to sweep in. Of course at that point, I realised the scale of the project I’d now started! Each button was to be treated differently and had to be beaded uniquely.
After a few weeks of beading at night, I had worked my way along the length of the belt, populating it with beaded pearl buttons. But did I stop there? No. The spaces between the buttons had to be filled with something, and I didn’t just want to sew on pearls, so I began adding random fringes of differing lengths. These were interspersed between all the buttons and gave the belt much more life and texture. Now the only things missing were tassels at each end. These were going to have to be elaborate, lengthy fringes incorporating more buttons, like pearl, bead and button waterfalls.
I’ve worn this piece in a number of ways – as a belt, wrapped around my wrist as a cuff and around my neck loosely tied as a lariat, so I called it Pearl Button Lariat. I think of dear old Gran when I wear it, and I’m so pleased these lovely buttons aren’t still hiding away in that box.