Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Technology of a Glass Button

Well, every time I start on a new or revisited project, there is something new to learn. Glass buttons have been an elusive thing for me. I've tried many times over the years, and always given up, normally in pretty short order. But this time, I feel like I've gotten a much better feel for the whole button-making process. There are two very difficult things about making glass buttons- getting the glass smoothly in the tiny space between the two mandrels, and making them round, or at least somewhat regular.

Because of the way the mandrel is made and turns and all of that, the natural shape for a two hole button is rather oval. In the past, I've tried to make them semi-round. But I have recently realized that that is not necessarily necessary! So my new buttons are sometimes oval, and sometimes not so much. I keep them in my etsy shop, alongside my glass whorls and other spinning supplies

Ah, decorative buttons are a thing! Who knew? Well, probably lots of folks, but buttons are not always functional. So, if a button is oddly shaped, it can simply be sewn onto a lovely fiber design as kind of an alternate form of jewelry.

The backs of buttons- well I was kind of going for flat. But guess what? Many buttons are actually curved on the back side as well as the front. Why? Well, I think it's because you have to be able to button them. If they are too flat on the fabric, it could be a no go!

And then someone mentioned weight. If the button is too heavy, it will pull things in some random undesirable direction. Hmmm... I wonder how heavy is too heavy?

And did you know that buttons have their very own measuring system? They are measured in lignes, with 40 lignes equal to 1 inch. The American National Button Society divides its buttons into 'small', 'medium' and 'large' sizes. But how many lignes is a large button? I will have to leave that to the experts!

Ready to learn more about the ins and outs of button history and technology? You can always find fun info on Wikipedia . There's also the Keep Homestead Museum in Massachusetts, which has a button collection and this treatise on buttons by Charles Dickens. Amazing!