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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

A Special Display

Over the years, I found myself buying more and more vintage buttons. Sometimes I had a project in mind, but other times I just bought them because I liked them. After all, who knows when I’d need them? Or how can anyone ever have too many buttons?

A high point was when a friend gave me a jar full of buttons that she’d bought at a thrift store. They were old buttons—shoe buttons, and horn buttons, and bone buttons, and the old white china buttons, a few with stencil patterns. Since I lived in the Northern California foothills then, I liked to imagine they’d come from a family in an old mining town.

My buttons are sorted by color family and stored in nice tea tins from the tea that my sister liked. And, in turn, I’d stored those tins in a wood box – they fit perfectly! But the result was that the buttons were hidden away.

Perhaps I could apply my creativity to make a display for at least a few of them. Here’s what I came up with.

I guess you could say it’s a button card with a button card! If you’ve ever seen the older button cards, some of them are quite beautiful. My favorite old brand is Bluebird buttons.

How many of you remember the movie Pretty in Pink? I’m so tempted to add a caret between the ‘Pretty’ and ‘Kitty’ then insert the words ‘in Pink.’ But maybe that would just be too corny.

Anyway, I created the kitty with colored pencil on Strathmore Mixed Media Paper. I haven’t worked with colored pencil in a long time, but found I really enjoyed it. My favorite colored pencils are Polychromos. They’re nice and smooth and I found I could get a pretty even color over a large area with this pencil/paper combination. And they layer well. Since colored pencils behave as if they're laying down transparent color, it’s fun and easy to modify the overall color by layering. That's what I did in many areas of this piece, but especially in the shadows.

An interesting technique with colored pencil is to create white ‘lines’ by incising them into the paper with a stylus before you add any pencil.

This worked well for her white whiskers. When you add colored pencil over the incised lines, it skips over them and leaves the white of the paper showing.

By the way, you can see the dotted trim on her collar in this enlargement. The dots are made with a 0.7mm white Posca Paint pen.

Since Pretty Kitty is wearing a rather vintage style dress, I thought the whole piece should have a vintage look, so I added a few smears with a wet tea bag and then a few drops of light brown alcohol ink. I bought a distressed vintage frame on Etsy, but it hasn’t come yet.

The writing is Staedtler 0.1 black pen. I let it dry over night before I did anything else because in the past I’ve had trouble with ink smearing even if it’s ‘water resistant.’ To protect the colored pencil and the ink, I sprayed the piece with Krylon Workable Fixatif. Then I added two coats of Liquitex Matte Gel Medium. The final step was to sew the buttons on.

Since the buttons are dimensional, I won’t be able to put glass in the frame. That makes sealing the piece especially important. I’ll just have to remember to dust her!

A few footnotes:

It’s so tempting to do a series! What about Proud Possum Quality Vintage Buttons? I can just picture a mama possum with her babies in tow. (O’possum, actually. But I like the sound of ‘possum’ better.) And there are so many more possibilities.

It’s also tempting to keep my eyes open for old wood frames. The one I bought on Etsy was an old one which the seller refinished. This, however, is probably a temptation which I should say ‘no’ to. I seldom use frames in my work. And what size would I need anyway?

I hope this post has inspired you to find fun, creative ways to display some of the things you have but don’t see and get to enjoy.


An Invitation

Join Me On a Virtual Sabbatical,

the Creative Time-Out

I’m so excited to extend an invitation to you. It’s for a free on-line event that I’m organizing, having been inspired by the sabbatical I gave myself about a month ago. In short, it’s an on-line get together for people who give themselves that same great gift I gave myself, but with one super important change. Even though we’ll each choose our own topics to work on, we’ll have each others’ company, inspiration, and encouragement through a private Facebook Group and Zoom meetings.

The event will run from Saturday, July 27, through Sunday, August 4. During that period, simply devote as much time as you can carve from your schedule and we’ll see what wonderful things happen.

To find out more, just watch the video, by clicking on the image just below of me talking!

To sign up, just go to the Facebook Group by clicking here and click the JOIN button.

Hope to see you there!

P.S. To read my past blog posts about my sabbatical, just follow the links here:


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1 comentario

28 jun

I always look forward to your posts. Your art work never fails to make me smile. I love the colors you use and how expressive the characters are. Thank you!

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