President Dawn Cragg welcomed members and speaker Diane Hemsley to the May meeting of Retford Ladies Probus Club. Diane’s fascination with buttons began in childhood and has never waned. The oldest button ever found was 5,000 years old and they have been made from a variety of different materials including wood, shell, horn, bone, clay and plastics. Bakelite was very popular for all manner of things including buttons, but will never be made again due to the dangerous use of chemicals during production. Hence, Diane says: “It has become more expensive than gold.”
Initially buttons were worn on different parts of the body and it wasn’t until Victorian times that ladies started wearing them down the fronts of their blouses. Only the wealthy were permitted to flaunt this accessory. If a poorer person was lucky enough to possess a button, they had to keep it hidden. Diane would have been considered a very wealthy person as she appears to have thousands of them!
She brought numerous interesting old tins full of buttons which people have donated. Most people will have some spare buttons in their house, often inherited from an elderly relative. Diane also showed examples of how versatile they can be when used in the making of cards, jewellery, Christmas decorations, etc.
Diane used to run the Craft Shop in Retford and I’m sure I’m not the only one who misses her beautiful imaginative window displays, often incorporating buttons. ‘Button Hooked’ was certainly a very apt title for her talk!
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th September, at Westhill Community Centre, at 10.00am for a 10.30am start. David Dawson will speak on the Worksop and Chesterfield Canal. All are welcome.