Monday, June 27, 2011

Crochet Buttons from the Brain Watkins

Do you remember these buttons from the Brain Watkins House?

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society

 With their delightful button moulds or molds.

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society

Well I am happy to say that I have found out a little more about these delightful buttons from a book titled: The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons, by Sally C. Luscomb.  An American book it does largely focus on American makers and buttons, but still a great source of information on buttons and the different materials they are made of.

The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons

 This is an illustration from the book, unfortunately the quality is not very good, but if you look at the white   button in the middle of the top row, it is identical to the image above this one of the button in the 
Brain Watkins House.

The book states: "Crochet: A type of needlework made with a hook, sometimes used to cover buttons.  At first it was made by hand, later by machine.  "Caps" were crocheted, then placed over wooden molds that had first been covered with fine silk threads.  The caps were sewed on the back to hold them in place."  

Black crochet button from: The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons

"Black and white crocheted buttons are quite easily found today, but these buttons are also found in pastel and deeper colors.  Crocheted buttons first became fashionable in the 1880's.  Sometimes beads were put on the thread as the cap was being crocheted, the beads being the same color as the thread. 

Crocheted covered buttons again became popular in the early 1900's.  The caps of this period often were patterned and made of cotton and linen threads for women's cotton and linen dresses and suits.  These buttons are found with cardboard molds, or in the case of ball-shaped buttons, stuffed with cotton."

As the buttons in the collection of the Brain Watkins' have wooden moulds, this would suggest that the crochet buttons are from the 1880's.

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society
This is a piece of crochet from the Brain Watkins, it measures approximately 50mm across, and the wooden moulds found in the box are 30mm, this would make the crochet circle the right size for the moulds.  The crochet circles were found in a separate box, with a selection of similar crocheted pieces, and threads.

 Crochet buttons were made in Ireland and France, and the crochet pieces found in the house along with thread and fine crochet hooks, suggest that the Brain women may have made some of these buttons. 

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