Buttons connect. They join two sides together. They’re the utilitarian device that fills gaps. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be perfectly beautiful, and not just in a form-follows-function kind of way. Buttons are beautiful because they serve a real purpose, sure, but since they are exterior and a place for the eye to land, buttons are also ornamental and vocal. They communicate a willingness to be more than their functional purpose for being.
They dress up. They desire attention. They bridge the difference between existing and thriving. Shopping for buttons is rarely something you set out to do on its own, but there are galleries and antique markets on Cape Cod with rich and rewarding supplies.
Czech Glass Buttons by Emily Lewis at The Frying Pan Gallery, Wellfleet
250 Commercial Street
Wellfleet, MA 02667-7446
About ten years ago indie designer Emily Lewis struck a deal with a manufacturer to supply her jewelry business with Czech glass buttons. Cape Cod-based Lewis transforms the buttons to wearable artwork: she mounts them on metal bands for bauble-style rings, for example, or she attaches a clasp on the back for scarf-tying pins and brooches. Subjects on the glass buttons are sometimes identifiable, like dragonflies, and sometimes esoteric and almost mystical. Find Lewis’ work on display and for purchase at The Frying Pan Gallery in Wellfleet.
Tailor Buttons at Gristmill Gallery, Eastham
2320 State Hwy
Eastham, MA 02642
The sign along the road outside the Gristmill Gallery on Route 6 in Eastham indicates that books are for sale, along with antiques. Inside you’ll find the expected collections of glassware and parlor furniture, but accompanying these grouped sections of antiques are books on the same subjects. That means old-fashioned (and thoroughly reliable) cookbooks near the bowls and kitchen utensils, and fashionable books near the collection of buttons. Paw through the vessels, including a few that seem to be the drawers pulled out of a workbench that housed an original Singer sewing machine. The Gallery has plenty of buttons straight from tailors’ alteliers, lost or leftover from workers’ waistbands and cuffs and suit jackets of days gone by. But then there are those buttons that exceed expectations: monogrammed, sculpted, imprinted, jewel-tone, three- dimensional. They’re worth the hunt.
Army Uniform Buttons at This Is It Antiques and Used Furniture, Harwich
304 Pleasant Lake Ave
Harwich, Ma 02645
Hours: Mon –Sat 10am-4pm
Alarmed may very well be your reaction when you pull into the barely-wide-enough driveway of This Is It. Alarmed, because of the sheer amount of stuff that populates the yard. Alarmed, because of the owner’s encyclopedic familiarity with what and where thousands and thousands of items are located on his property. Buttons at This Is It are the proverbial needle in the haystack but fortunately you do not have to dig for them
on your own. What you will find, once you get to them, is an exceptional collection of buttons culled from army uniforms dating back some 60 years, embossed and decorated with crossed rifles, raised US lettering, eagles and fleur de lis.
Cathy Huyghe is the founder of Red White Boston a location-based wine recommendation service available as a mobile app and online. Red White Boston also provides client entertainment and event management services.