Thursday, January 10, 2019

Things Kept, Five New Pieces

 (Above:  An assortment of beautiful, vintage buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

One might say that I collect buttons but truly that's an understatement.  I amass buttons!  At auction, I can't help myself.  I bid even though I don't need more, even if the selection is ordinary, even if I have seemingly run out of room to store them. One way or the other, I find a way to sort and keep them ... all of them.  I love buttons!  There's a old wooden box in which I've stashed my very favorite ones ... like those in this picture.  But recently I had to ask myself, "What are you keeping them for?  When are you finally going to use them?"

(Above:  Things Kept I.  Framed 38" x 30".  Decorative paper, fabric, buttons, vintage fans on heavy watercolor paper.)

Many of the buttons I've bought at auction were kept in neat cookie tins or glass mason jars. Without knowing the original owners, I am quite familiar with the reasoning behind keeping buttons:  One day I will need them ... One day I will use them ... One day will come!  Yet, it didn't come.  I got them instead and applied the exact same rationalization.  

(Above:  Things Kept II.  Framed 38" x 30".  Antique bookend paper, fabric, trim, buttons, vintage beads and ephemera on heavy watercolor paper.)

It is sort of pathetic to know that my enormous stash, and especially the "favorite buttons", had gone from one rationalization to another rationalization.  So, this New Year, I had to DO SOMETHING.  The day had come to finally use some of the most precious buttons.  These are the five pieces made inspired by my best-of-the-best.  

(Above:  Things Kept III.  Framed 38" x 30".  Decorative paper, fabric from an antique Chinese folding screen, thread, vintage print of ancient ceramics, buttons, beaded purse on heavy watercolor paper.)

I also dove into my stash of decorative papers and another box in which I've stored small previous keepsakes ... like a damaged, beaded handbag from the early 20th century, Sunday school gloves, antique lace and shells, and scraps of hand embroidered silk.  These are all THINGS KEPT, which became the title for the new work.  These are all things I intended to use "one day" and the day finally came.

(Above:  Things Kept IV.  Framed 38" x 30".  Decorative paper, embroidered Chinese fabric, buttons, glove, shell and beads on heavy watercolor paper.)

One of the things that prompted the work is an upcoming opportunity to have my artwork at a popular, fine dining restaurant called Motor Supply Co. Bistro (because the original use of the historic, brick building was as a motor supply store!).  In my mind, these pieces will look fabulous on the walls and appropriate to the classy decor.  The opportunity came from a friend, Bohumila Augustinova.  She curates a rotating schedule of artwork for the restaurant, changing it every three or four months.  Bohumila is originally from the Czech Republic ... the place where most of my favorite buttons were made.  It was in her honor that I decided, once and for all, to use these precious possessions instead of just keeping them hidden in the little, wooden box. 

  (Above:  Things Kept V.  Framed 38" x 30".  Antique paper with xylene photo transfer of a cemetery angel, water soluble crayon, epoxy, and buttons on heavy watercolor paper.)

In my stash of decorative papers, I found a xylene photo transfer of a cemetery angel.  I made it years ago.  It was made on an extremely large piece of antique paper that came from a giant-sized book.  I adore the foxing on the paper.  It sings with age.  It became the perfect place for a collection of fine Czechoslovakian jet buttons.  I added shading with water soluble crayon and an epoxy halo. Below are some of the detail shots featuring the buttons that inspired this work. 

 (Above:  Detail of button on Things Kept I.)

 (Above:  Detail of Things Kept II.)

 (Above detail of button on Things Kept IV.)

  (Above detail of button on Things Kept IV.)

  (Above detail of button on Things Kept V.)

 (Above detail of Things Kept V.)


Christine said...

So,so beautiful. I too have a button tin which I add to now and again. My children played with them and now my grandson has found the tin. Looking at the tin, I think that is an antique in its own right!! Wish I could go visit the restaurant to savour the food while adoring your artwork.

Sandy said...

I really like these compositions. A grouping of lovely things together, which touches the part of us that wants to keep little treasures. Together they sing of memories.
Thanks Susan, I hope your work is successful at the restaurant.
Sandy in the UK