• Dawn

A special gift from the past

I’ve mentioned Nan’s Button Box before. This month I got to use it’s contents for something extra special.

My branch of the family live quite a distance from the rest – when my parents married they decided in they youthful enthusiasm that they would like to have their children well out of meddle-range of their parents (their words, not mine!), so they left north London for Devon at the end of the 1960’s. There were quite a few things they didn’t factor into this grand scheme – a lack of amenities, the sudden spike in petrol cost and affordability of phone calls and the emotional distance this would inevitably create between their new family and the rest, but there you are.

So I didn’t spend much time with either set of grandparents, or indeed any of my relatives which is probably why I always feel that friends come first.  I did get to spend three weeks with my maternal grandparents whilst on work experience (at the London Record Office whilst studying Bookbinding and Paper Conservation – every element of that 3 weeks was awesome) and during that time was able to listen to Nan’s stories. That was also when she promised me her sewing box. Now I don’t sew – I really am very bad at following patterns, but this box had all her memories and history in it, including the buttons she cut off her son’s baby clothes as he out grew them. He was born, pre NHS with a hole in his heart and wasn’t expected to survive, so she kept the tiny mother of pearl buttons from all his baby clothes. She had made these clothes herself, reusing fabric and buttons from other garments – this was immediately after the war and it was still a struggle to find such things. After my mum and the NHS came along, heart surgery – although still in it’s infancy had progressed sufficiently for him to be one of the first to benefit and the hole was fixed.

He went on to be a brilliant lego-building uncle, successful architect, husband and father, but died far too early, leaving my aunt with three very young daughters to raise on her own. She did this well and last weekend their middle daughter had her wedding.

I wanted to make all three of my cousins something special, and was trying to think of something that would give them that connection with their father and their grandmother, neither of whom could be at any of their significant events. I decided to make them matching bracelets, with an extra pair of earrings for the bride.

I have a standard style of bracelet* I make when I want to give the look of a bangle, but incorporate some wire wrapping, gemstones and flexibility of size, so I made three of these and added a rainbow of fancy sapphires, a charm made from one of Nan’s own buttons and ‘sewed’ one of the least damaged of the baby buttons to each. I then packed them up and passed them to my mum to take to the wedding to pass on to them.

I didn’t get an awful lot of notice to make these, and didn’t spend any time photographing them (as you can see – I’ve just put one on to try and take a couple of snaps!) but I’m hopeful that they will enjoy that small connection and the wearability of the pieces.

*I have found this to be a popular style of bracelet, so I’ll write a show and tell when I next make one.

That’s it for today – I’m off to continue spray-painting the things I’ve scavenged for my stall’s display on the 5th  – when I do my first proper fair….eeek!

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