Monday, March 16, 2009

The care and feeding of buttons

Well, it's been quite an adventure, managing the smoky buttons!

I started with 3.5 pounds - enough to fill a cookie sheet mounded up in the middle so I wouldn't lose any off the sides, and separated out the ones with metal shanks. Those are being defumigated in a closed tin with a bowl of baking soda inside after an afternoon on the porch taking in fresh air.

The rest went into a vinegar bath, where I lost a single-layer cookie sheet full of mother of pearl buttons. They were incredibly beautiful, and now they are not.

After I separated out the disintegrating mother-of-pearl buttons and scraped the pearly bits off the other buttons, I put the survivors back into another vinegar bath.

And then I read this very interesting article about button collecting, the last page of which describes a chemical reaction that turns early plastic buttons to rubber when they hit liquid.

Afterward I spent another two hours separating out and tossing the highly stinky, newly rubbery buttons - another single-layer cookie sheet's worth. The survivors spent a day in a gentle-soap bath and some time on a towel to dry:

And then I spent three hours separating them by colour and putting them into bags:

And now I am done and I will never, ever need to buy another button. Of course, I might yet want to...


Kathleen Taylor said...

of course you will buy more buttons. It's vinegar that you'll avoid...

JMS said...

Buttons are, in fact, a bit addictive. You'll get more...

I don't know if I've directed you there already or not, but you should check out Cloud Nine Creations Jewelry - she makes jewelry out of buttons and they're adorable!

Jennifer @ Random Ramblings