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Friday’s Favorites: Tagua Nut Buttons

tagua nut buttons, Bakelite roses

Woodland Roses

Friday’s Favorites is all about “tagua nut buttons”. The vintage buttons on the necklace and bracelet are made almost entirely from tagua nut (the necklace has a few celluloid buttons). I have used mostly natural colored buttons, but a few have a darker brown dye added to the carved ones, some even have a cross-hatch pattern which is quite pretty. I used a variety of buttons on the necklace, two hole, four hole and shank; in designs such as “fish eye” and whistle; where as on the bracelet just shank buttons. The vintage roses on the necklace are carved Bakelite, and the round discs on the bracelet are wood. The necklace is a variation of my “Vintage Bling Bling” pattern, and the bracelet is the “Bohemian Button Bracelet” pattern.

Vegetable Ivory- or Tagua Nut from the Corozo Palm (except from Button Identification and Cleaning)

This nut comes from the Corozo Palm that grows in South America. It is a hard, versatile nut that can be carved and dyed. It has been used since the late 19th century s an alternative to ivory because the striations of the nut resemble those in ivory. It is softer than bone. The dye only absorbs on the surface layer, so the carving is left as the natural color of the nut. The tagua nut was popular from 1890- 1920, but has found resurgence since 1990.

vintage tagua nut buttons

Tagua Nut Buttons

All of these buttons here except for the red button are vintage.

What is amazing about tagua nut buttons is that each vintage one is made, one at a time, hand carved, hand dyed. Pretty remarkable.

The colors are so pretty close-up, rich natural browns; when dyed the colors tended to be greens both dark and light; black (which I ask what is the point because it is hard to see the beauty of the nut); browns from light to dark; and red as seen in the group that is tied together, notice the carving and how it shows the nut underneath. Some tagua nut buttons were inlaid with shell, or metal, some were dyed, carved and another color rubbed into the carving.

For further reading may I suggest “Button Button Identification & Price Guide”.

Enjoy your day, play in the button box if you have time! Christen

Tandletons: Embroidery, Tatting, Needle Lace Buttons

Tandletons- hand made buttons stitched with needle lace, traditional embroidery, tatting

Tandletons- hand made buttons stitched with needle lace, traditional embroidery, tatting

These little threaded works of art are just so much fun to make. I start with Hanah Silk bias ribbon, create a form and stuff it with Polyfil.

I then take a few strands of Wildflowers from the Caron Collection and start stitching.

All of the stitches are created with a milliner’s needle, and a little imagination.

The techniques that I used here are:

  • Embroidery: buttonhole stitch, French knots, lazy daisies. I have also used silk ribbon embroidery stitches like the woven rose with the feather stitch
  • Tatting: basic picot flowers and the closed double knot
  • Needle lace: buttonhole stitch, woven star

I created a set of buttons for the May/June 2008 PieceWork Magazine, and there is a free article that you can download to create a few of these for yourself. The article is called: Buttons to Embroider and Needle- Tat (scroll down the index towards the bottom of the page).

Buttons to embroider and needle tat

Buttons to embroider and needle tat

I wish you hours and days of Joyous and Happy Stitching!

Vintage Buttons- by Christen Brown

Renaissance Maiden by Christen Brown

Renaissance Maiden by Christen Brown

I LOVE buttons!!! As a kid my mom kept a wooden cigar box full of buttons in the sewing closet. When we were sick, or sometimes just bored she would pull out the box and let us play with them.

At first I just loved the sound that the buttons made when they fell on the table; then I loved just looking at the colors; then I started imagining what I would do with them all. I learned a lot about color, shapes and sizes by playing and arranging these little treasures on the rug in the living room. My mom in her quiet wisdom gave us our own self taught course on design.

Today I collect vintage and antique buttons, some I keep on display because they are so beautiful but mainly I use them in the projects that I make. Examples include “Renaissance Maiden” which is encrusted with vintage metal and glass buttons and “Autumn Leaves Must Fall” a short sleeved jacket that is covered in celluloid, Bakelite and Thermoset buttons.

Through the reading and research of my collection I gained a good body of information and if you like buttons you may find these articles that I have written of interest …

I hope that you will be inspired to look through your own “Button Box” and that you find a hidden treasure in there. And remember that even if the button’s worth is measured only by the special memory that it brings to you, that is priceless.