By Donna di Natale
A trip to a local thrift shop almost always uncovers a treasure, and a recent trip I made was certainly not a disappointment. It wasn’t a significant purchase in either dollars or importance. It was simply a round ball with buttons pinned to it.
The pins were fairly new, with round, colored heads, and there were two bows made of vintage cloth at the top. The ball had a big red button on it, and I’ve been looking for just the right big red vintage button. The price was $1.99, so into my cart it went.
I intended to remove the buttons and add them to my button box, but first I took a closer look. Someone took a lot of time to pin all those old buttons to a Styrofoam ball. I assume it was made to be decorative. Were the buttons from someone’s collection or her mother’s or grandmother’s collection? Was this a memory ball? The fabric bows were definitely vintage, possibly ’40s. But the base was certainly newer.
I’m a victim of “Antiques Roadshow.” I keep thinking that someday, I’m going to stop at a thrift store and pick up an amazing treasure for almost nothing. Well, this button ball isn’t that treasure. The buttons alone are worth more than the price I paid. But it definitely isn’t a valuable treasure. What it is, at least in my mind, is a piece of sewing folk art. Quilts that I find often talk to me, and this ball of buttons is talking to me. It says, don’t take me apart. I’m pretty. I’m special.
So it’s going on the shelf with my other sewing collectibles. And I’m still searching for the big red button.
Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.