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mixed media assemblage with buttons

Women have been saving buttons ever since the button was invented. Buttons used to be hard to come by. Women saved buttons for the next new garment. Our grandmothers and mothers who lived through the Depression had button boxes, and many women still save buttons, but they don’t know why. Saving buttons may be a dying act, in this throw-away culture. One can’t help but wonder about the people who wore these buttons. My mixed media button collages honor the button, whether common or grand, and, in a way, give honor to people from all walks of life who wore them.

Sewn, pieced, woven, twisted and threaded, these button collages, 2-D and 3-D, have buttons from several generations of button boxes from my family and friends’ families, and buttons from anywhere and everywhere. I am reminded of mosaics, and of garments loved and un-loved, and the quilt-like intergenerational quality of these constructions.

For the fabric pieces, buttons are carefully selected without pre-planning for the hand-sewing onto velvet. The velvet is then lined and hung, sometimes in groups. These pieces represent hours and hours of laborious spontaneity.

The sculptural pieces are made with wire, hardware cloth, buttons, beads (sometimes with the hardware cloth sewn onto painted canvas). The buttons are carefully selected for color, shape, texture, and personality. Wire is woven into the grid of the hardware cloth to increase the stability of the wire. Colored wire is sometimes added around the first wire, creating a three-dimensional line throughout.

With my initial base in the fiber arts, which rely on the grid, I am interested in combining the order of the grid with the chaos of the buttons and wire. By combining and mixing, sewing and twisting, I have created a body of work that transforms the ordinary and celebrates the common.

 

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  © 2014 Barbara Brandel - All rights reserved.