By Kathryn Seiley
My absolute favorite toy of all time was an old red candy tin filled with buttons. What a sight to a little girl's eyes! The glistening of silvery swirls, golden crowns, bright red anchors, and tiny iridescent balls gave the eye delight and the imagination tools to create a wonderland full of entertainment.
The buttons weren't really special, they held no meaning except to the little girl who spend hour after hour arranging and rearranging them to create adventures of royalty and glamour; tragedy and triumph; folklore and fantasy. Buttons from shirts and dresses that were too worn to pass on to others, extras left over from a seamstress work completed, the extra buttons attached to store bought "specials". Some dull and drab, some bright and glossy, some broken and bent, but all with it's own special story to tell to this little girl.
They became her very special friends.
When she was lonely, she could turn over the box and set the bottom of the tin as the stage, using the top of the tin to hold all the characters for this day's play. She would then painstakingly choose just the right button to be the characters in her production. A bright crown would be the king, a beautiful silver swirl would be the queen, a handful of blue would become a moat around the castle, brown and off-white to create a cobblestone path, large black odd shaped buttons would become chargers or villains, and always there was the one special pearl white button that represented the fairy princess. These plays were complete with plot, dialogue, rapture and challenge as the little girl played out her dreams and desires with handful of buttons. The loneliness faded away amid the imaginative workings she created and often she fell fast asleep, buttons in hand, dreaming of a special someone who would come to share her special world.
To this day I still have a fascination with buttons. Now I turn them into jewelry. One-of-a-kind broaches, earrings, and bracelets. And some very unique refrigerator magnets, too. As I create these treasures I think of the people who will own them, and what the message is that they will receive from the placement and choice in each creation. The pleasure in seeing someone else's delight in wearing one of these memories fills me with thankfulness that I can still share my childhood passion with others.
By Kathryn Seiley
Published in US Legacies June 2004