The history of Dorset buttonery is thought to extend back into the 1600s, at which time rings were cross-cut from rams horn. The working of buttons was the province of cottage women, and they were sold in bundled lots at somewhere between eight pence and three shillings a dozen.
|A hollow-core brass ring is worked in buttonhole stitch - Perle cotton|
Since the time I read Chevalier's book my little ears have pricked up whenever the words "Dorset" and "button" are mentioned in the same breath. I often hanker for a life simpler than mine; I dream of replicating the bare-bones, self-sufficiency of bygone years, the waste-not-want-not and mend-and-make-do mentality. Having mastered the art of knitting my own socks, I felt excited at the prospect of being able to craft simple and beautiful buttons by hand.
|Adding the spokes and beginning to weave|
|From green to red and back to green|
|Buttonery on the Train|
|Blandford Cartwheel No. 1|
The lesson today was referenced by the book Buttons Buttons by Marion Howitt. I believe the book is available by contacting her through her website. Marion is acknowledged as an authority on Dorset Buttons in the UK. The Blandford Cartwheel button made today is a fairly basic design, but there are many others available. There is some beautiful Dorset button candy to be seen at The British Button Society and naturally, there are many and varied images available via the interwebs.
It has been a delightful day. A day of blue skies and sunshine, of crisp fresh mountain air; a day perfectly formed for sitting alongside like-minded souls rejoicing in something old made new again.