Monday, February 7, 2011

long live the button

buttons-1

buttons-2

in the 80s i was a button fanatic. i had hundreds of them. i collected them like others collected stickers, cabbage patch dolls and baseball cards. they were easy to collect, too -- they were ubiquitous then. in the late 80s the button trend for the most part just melted away and other things took their places. recently i discovered that a gal i knew in college, christen carter, took this loss quite personally and launched her own bid in the 90s to revive the fading craft. and so the busy beaver button company was born. over fifteen years later, she is at the helm of a booming business. the thought of this made my heart swell and my pulse top out, for it reminded me how much buttons once defined my life. they were badges of statement: i traveled here, i saw that, i ate there, i believed that. they were snapshots of culture: advertisements, events, foods, politics, music, tribal pride. they were pieces of art: concise, colorful, graphic collections of shapes and words.

and now they bring back waterfalls of memories. after i found out about her company, i was curious enough to dig the long forgotten (and rather rusty) bucket of buttons out of my scary basement and go through them one by one. many have surely vanished in my 20+ moves over the years but the ones that remain tell a fairly accurate story of who i was and what i did during the first half of my teenage years. my third grade year, when i went to hawaii with my grandmother for a month, and spent the first night in a honolulu hospital because she tripped over a speed bump in the parking garage. watching columbia lift off for the first time in 1981. the trip my parents made to the 1984 olympics. the family voyage we made to toronto and niagara falls at a time when my hair was orange, i wore horrifying neon things and one of my braces popped off. when mcnuggets hit the cuisine scene. the black and white TV i won after buying a button in st. croix falls, wisconsin. and for the love of faux mexican food, who didn't make it through the 80s without a visit to chi-chi's?

if you are a button nut, you'll enjoy christen's history of buttons and her determination to help these little pieces of genius make their rightful comeback. long live the button!

35 comments:

suzanne cabrera said...

Sweet!!!! Love this post and the memories encased in each of the button's plastic shells. Fun! Fun! Fun!

junebug said...

Love it! I just unpacked my jean jacket completely covered in buttons. Obviously I would never wear it but I can't bear to part with it. Too many memories.

cath c said...

ah yes, i had many a snarky button, punk teen angst, and the longest lasting of my button phase, on my worn out faded denim jacket - along with beaded diaper pin and the back covered in sewn on macrame netting - well into the following decade, john lennon.

terri said...

i love buttons. i have just activated a blogger account specifically so i could finally comment on your blog. so that is all. :)

aimee said...

thanks terri, and welcome! wish i could see everyone's button collections...

S.E.Minegar said...

chi chi's. the one in mishawaka shut down for health code violations, but boy did i enjoy wearing a sombrero at my themed birthday party!

i had a new kids on the block button.

my husband collected key chains from placed he visited.

qwiksave said...

You've inspired me to put a picture of my badges (thats what we call them in the UK)on my blog! Give me a while to hunt them out of the attic, photo them and put them on for you to see. Then they will be on www.creativeflourishes.blogspot.com

I love the old ones too!

iHanna said...

I ♥ that you have part of your collection still with you. I think these collections are important and yes, they DO say so much about who we were and why we are like we are today! :-) Thanks for sharing. Now, maybe find a new cool button on etsy? who are you today?

Inner Toddler said...

I was so envious of the high schoolers with jean jackets and like a zillion buttons on the back. I did recently find three buttons of me made from my AYSO soccer pictures circa 1982, 83 and 84. Treasures! Your collection is excellent.

Isabel said...

miss my Buttons!!! I had a blue jean jacket covered in Buttons:O)Will have to check out the site:O) Thanx

kaya10 said...

Just love all the colors in your blog photos!
A feast!

artistaprilcole@gmail.com said...

Thank you for sharing... WOW!
Brings back memories, I agree. :]
My daughter has a collection on her canvas cross body purse.
And, your right... they do tell a story.
I think, I'm going to put mine on my art canvas bag... too.

Kat W said...

I love the way the story of your buttons tells the story of your life. We call them buttons in the UK but the idea and nostalgia is the same. I used to love collecting stickers, postcards & rubbers (erasers)wherever we went. It is a great way to mark memories & experiences.

Fab post!
Kat :-)

Sarah said...

Oh wow! Fascinating! I have a few and my partner Andy has a lot-lots of political ones and music ones from the 80s. What a great way to bring back memories. You still see them on second hand markets and Andy still buys them at time. I have arty type ones as souvenirs of God knows what. my favourite is one that goes 'plan
a
head'-ha ha-it doesn't fit. You have to see it really!
I loved that book and thought of it when I was at the castle on Saturday. that and another one about wild swimming by Roger Deakin called 'Waterlog'-he lived in a moated house and often swam in his moat as well as in many other places.

Kelly Warren said...

how fun! in the 80's i collected matchbooks with much the same fervor. i've often wondered what the heck happened to them all...

Janie B said...

My sister is a journalist and she's been collecting political buttons for 40 years. They really show our history.

Kim Hambric said...

Thanks for the memories. I was a button wearer in college. I was quite a quiet girl, but my buttons were loud.

Jan | Daisy Janie said...

Holy Nostalgia!! Things like this make me want to go back to those years for some reason - I can barely stand it! In 9th grade, we had to create class corporations - ours was Dr. Dux (?). We sold band pins (it was 1984), carnations we delivered and colored t-shirts. Each class set up their tables before school each day. The margin we made on the pins allowed us to win the whole shebang! Plus, nobody else sold pins. Fond memories of sticking them all over my shizzle!

rachel awes said...

how fun is this?!!
i used to have a button
that read..
"my mom thinks
i'm at the movies"!!!
xox

Ces said...

I have been gone for so long! So colorful here. Lots of sunshine. Ah, my daughter has a button collection. When she was in middle school she covered her backpack with buttons! Her friends know she loves buttons so they keep on giving her more. When I was an ER nurse I once wore a button that said "Welcome to the zoo", well our hospital was right in front of the zoo. Have a great day Aimee!

Shannon said...

This reminds me that I used to collect tickets from every concert, play, sporting event... I've gotten rid of them but I sure would love to take a look at them again as they really do bring back memories. Love your buttons!

Bella Sinclair said...

Oooh, push my buttons! Fantastic collection, and each one is significant. Oh my goodness, I collected buttons as a teen, too! Except my buttons often had curse words or obscene statements on them (which I did not realize until years later). Once, in middle school, I wore a button to school that read, "You are cordially invited to sit on my face." And the teacher called me up and asked me if I knew what that meant. And I said no. So then she let me go and did not even confiscate it. Now that I KNOW...ugh, how embarrassing! Hahahaha

Fruenswerk said...

They are great!!! Love them all...Hope you are good girl :)

Lori said...

Love! I love that you collected buttons!

tulpen said...

I was never a collector of buttons. But in high school I proudly wore one that said "Stupid People Shouldn't Breathe". I wish I still had it.

Nicky Linzey said...

Ha, I've just been given one of these, it says "a spoiled jack russell terrier rules my life". How did they know?

Pointy Pix said...

Ah badges! It must've been such an 80s thing both in the UK and the States! I also had a Wrangler denim jacket that i pinned all my heavy metal rock band badges to as well as the witty slogan badges that angst-ridden teens felt helped them stick two fingers up at the grown ups! I've no idea where my badges are now- probably in the same place as my studded belts and wristbands! Thanks for the memories!

julie said...

I have a button collection too! And that orange and black (Indianapolis) Children's Museum button is included!

Patricia said...

My light blue Dodge Aries' entire ceiling was covered with a lot of my button collection. Thanks for bringing back that memory!

Liz said...

i LOVE a good button!!!

Liz said...

i have to share my buttons now too, if i can find them...

Nicole said...

Hi Aimee. I've been following your blog since you were featured in Artful Blogging and really love your work. I'm currently in school in Chicago and just found out that my senior engineering design project will be with the Busy Beaver Button Company. So excited to see you mention them! The buttons seem so fun!

aimee said...

nicole -- that is so cool! i love when coincidences like that unite worlds. i bet you'll have a blast! drop me an e-mail some time and tell me about it! :) xo aimee

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