bakelite button

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Not long ago I received a bag of very old buttons, and I was sure at least some of them were Bakelite; the first completely synthetic plastic ever created. I read that a simple way to check was to run hot water over the button. If it smells like formaldehyde or a sweet, chemical odor, they are Bakelite.

It turns out, I could have just as easily let Thumper sniff them all out for me. Being deaf, his strongest sense is his smell, and he’s proven himself a total glue fiend. Bakelite also seems to get his seal of approval, because he kept going after the ones I’d separated into my Bakelite stash.

Wish I could take this boy antiquing!

There is something unequivocally cool about old buttons. I’ve always loved them. Some of my earliest memories are going to the John Myer building with my mom and they had a giant barrel of buttons that I loved to play in while my mom shopped for boring old fabric.

My guild is collecting old sewing notions to make decorations for QuiltFest in September, and as I’m in charge of the theme, I’ve had many ladies dropping off bags of stuff to me.

Today one of our very elderly ladies gave me a bag of wooden thread spools and a bag of wonderful old buttons! She assured me these were completely expendable and was happy to donate them.

There are coat buttons, pearl inlay, celluloid, bakelite, wood, leather and rhinestones in this fabulous stash. I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with these and selecting the right ones for decoration. Some of them are way too nice to use for a throw-away craft, and I may call this lady and see if I can buy them for myself!