Button, button, who’s got the button…

This isn’t a real post but I thought you might enjoy.

I collect buttons.  I have for years.  And a few of you enjoy them as much as I do so yesterday when someone in the comments asked me for more button videos I made a few.  Is this ridiculous?  Completely.

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Video 2. These buttons have a story. Victor and I met a man last year who bought an old button factory. He once supplied the button in the Benjamin Button movie. Now the man is ready to get rid of all the buttons so Victor had him send me some as a surprise. Y’all. He sent hundreds of pounds of buttons. Like, he took A SHOVEL and sent me enough old mother of pearl buttons to fill up *literally* two army trunks. They were ancient and filthy and were packed with branches and leaves and decades of dust and rain. Whenever I need a break from my head I scoop out a bowl and soak them and scrub them with toothbrushes until they shine. This is 1/50th of those buttons but it’s all I’ve cleaned so far.

A post shared by Jenny Lawson (@thebloggess) on

131 thoughts on “Button, button, who’s got the button…

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Music for my ears and eyes! Thank you, Jenny, for sharing these…I too love buttons and am envious of your variety of collections. Will be watching over and over as part of my meditations.

  2. I love this author! She also has a blog. I believe you once told me you collected buttons. If so you may enjoy this:

    and so it goes…

    >

  3. I have my great-grandmother’s button collection in an antique MacIntosh Toffee tin. When I was little, I used to satisfy whatever urge you want to call it by sorting them according to shape, colour, and style. It brought me a lot of comfort:-)

  4. I can totally understand how running your fingers through those buttons would be relaxing!

  5. OMG…button ASMR!!!
    Jenny, that truly was brilliant.
    I collect vegetable ivory buttons and any other button I can find.
    I’ve loved buttons since I was a small child.
    What is it about buttons?
    Love them.

  6. Jenny I love old buttons too. Not sure why – just maybe the thought of the combination of utility and prettiness (for some of them). I like to imagine when they were used and the people who thought those buttons were pretty too.
    BTW I think you’re hilarious and I want one of those raccoon masks

  7. In 1994, I worked at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland in the Buttons, Notions, and Trims department. We had over 10,000 different buttons. That autumn I entered George Washington University to work on a doctorate in genetics. I was talking to the head of the genetics department and told him where I was working. Turns out he was a button collector and had written a book about buttons.

  8. Thank you. I now have a greater appreciation for buttons. It turns out they hold us together in so many ways. ❤️

  9. Stay tuned… Button Jar Autopsy… lol That’s what I call it when I go through buttons. 😀

  10. I loved playing these videos over and over!!! Awesome to watch and listen to.🥰

  11. I loved playing these videos over and over!!! Awesome to watch and listen to.🥰

  12. This is a real post. You had to type words and press the Publish button. Therefore, real. These are beautiful videos, I love that you have different feelings about each of the collections. Lovely!

  13. Awesome. I collect too, and enjoy using them in crafts. I also sort by color, they do have stories.

  14. ASMR! Could you put these videos together and make a sound file that I could loop to fall asleep to???? So hard for me to fall asleep. I usually use your books on Audible, but this is awesome, too!

  15. I can’t tell you how much I love this. My grandmother (she raised me) use to keep a bucket of old buttons in her closet. I loved sitting in the closet, quietly looking through them – tiny treasures of all different shapes and colors. Finding a matching pair was rare, and exciting. Thank you for reminding me of one of the happy memories of my childhood. I think it’s time to start collecting….

  16. Here’s the story of the best yard sale I ever found. I was driving around my neighborhood about 10 years ago and saw sale signs, so of course I start following them. I pull up and there is a gloriously disheveled antique Hoosier cabinet in need of TLC bearing the sign “Free to a good home.” Yes, please! They loaded it into my minivan for me and everything. Having gotten such a treasure, I felt that I should buy something, so I looked around and saw an old tin full of buttons. I grabbed it and a few other little things and went on my way, super happy. Then, when I got home and started looking through the buttons I found an actual GOLD TOOTH! A big ol’ molar, to be more precise. What a day.

  17. You are a wonder. How did you know I needed lovely button videos when I didn’t even know myself? You’ve made me remember my mom’s metal tin of mixed buttons & how I loved sorting them, looking through them, etc. Buttons seem like little packets of Hope. Like you! 🙂

  18. i think this is just wonderful! There are alot of crafts you can make with buttons.

  19. Lol I was just thinking about your button collection last week and thinking I need more buttons

  20. BUTTONS!!!!!! I love mother-of-pearl buttons! Buttons by the shovel-full, buttons by the trunk full, oh heavenly!

  21. Hahaha just saw this and when I think “button collection” I think it’s code for “memories/traumas” and… I have jars. Don’t want to be a troll here. I’m a bit blown away by how many of you have jars of buttons! But.. I’m childless which is… sad. I think you need to have kids and not move all the time to have jars of buttons or at least that increases the likeliness that you’ll have at least one jar of buttons. But… it’s something I will work on. I’ve seen jars of antique-looking buttons that I’ll consider in second-hands shops when we are again able to leave the house after said global pandemic really ends and just “kind of ends because armed people say it does”. Goals!

  22. Such a zen thing! I have a friend who has a like amount of sea glass collected over the decades living on the Maine coast. Thank you for these little moments of reminiscence, quietude, longing. <3

  23. Going through my grandfather’s estate meant finding keys. Hundreds of them. Tucked into drawers, in bowls, in drawers, in shoeboxes, in plastic bags. No keys to his rolltop desk, but enough keys to fill buckets with and make music.

  24. In the first video, I love the one that looks like it has a dragonfly on it! I’d love to see it closer. 🙂

  25. totally love buttons. I thought maybe it was just me. I think I’m starting my own collection upon reading and watching! <3 (might need to start a #buttonwhore IG)

  26. I have a button collection, much less impressive than yours. Most of mine are inherited from my grandmothers. I also sort them by material.
    I cannot tell you how much I envy that big container of shell buttons. If he’s still getting rid of them, please give me his information. I’m in the Los Angeles area, I would love to go buy some from him. I don’t care that they’re dirty.

  27. Hi Jenny,
    On your 2nd video of story buttons about 45 seconds in, you had a button in your right hand that resembled an alien’s face, with a triangular mouth, not the earlier one with larger thread holes that you moved from left to right hand. I thought it was really cool and if you also like it, you may want to find it again and move it to your favorite mother-of-pearl buttons jar. It was in a later handful, near the end. You have so many this might not be a favorite, but it’s very cool. I LOVE your amazing button collection. I ordered two Rory masks, can’t wait for them to arrive.

  28. I sent you a package with several pounds of buttons in it around a year ago. In it was the twin to one of my favorite buttons. Metal with a Medusa head. It’s nice to know it has so many companions and such love.

  29. I love this! I used to play with my mothers button tin when I was small, and I recreated the feeling with a metal biscuit tin and estate sale buttons for my daughter. She loved it too. I’ve never thought about the therapeutic effects or the storage but I love it!

  30. Please tell me buttons will be sold in the store when it opens. Or at the very least admire.

  31. So amazing! My grandma had a huge collection of old buttons, and scraps of her kids’ clothes. So my mom made quilts from the clothes and sewed buttons on and gave them to my four aunts. It was so fun watching them re-live memories of the clothes and even the buttons!

  32. Button collector here, mother of pearl my favorites. Also sell junque and assorted treasures, and last summer purchased two huge and old round aquariums (aquaria???). Thanks for the idea for display. I always loved the smell of my mom’s button box, but now I understand that the aroma meant that celluloid was decaying, since metal buttons and certain plastic buttons do not coexist well. Your description of the sound of tinkly buttons is the best ever!

  33. My great-grandmother and grandmother used to have cookie tins and other tins filled with buttons. I used to love running my fingers and hands through them. I was always admonished to be very careful as some of them were antique buttons (probably mother of pearl). It was always pure pleasure to get to do what you were doing in your videos. I have a few of my own. I think my mum ended up with some of my grandmother’s. My daughter has inherited my love of buttons! I also love to collect keys (especially old ones). They still aren’t as much fun/satisfying as buttons though, as you can’t run your fingers through them!
    {hugs}
    Sandy/Wynterose

  34. i have 2 button boxes – one from my great gram/gram and one my mom started when my gram wouldn’t give up hers.I love the feeling of digging my hands in to these old buttons. always have since i was a very little girl. when i told a friend at work about my button boxes she had never heard of such a thing..but a day or so later she came in with a small jar of buttons she found at the dollar store. so at work i can kaleidoscope my little plastic jar and sooth my soul watching for the good buttons to appear.

  35. It is wonderful to see such an impressive button collection. I used to love playing with my mother’s collection which I have added to over the years and still enjoy rummaging through.

  36. all my buttons have already been sorted. i should dump them all together so i can sort them again. i find a lot of comfort in the sorting. i saw a picture of an abandoned button factory and all i could think was how i’d start sorting them. would i go by color? by number of holes? would i grab a big bin and take it elsewhere and sort that, or would i just plop my butt down in the middle and start sorting everything around me?

  37. Wish I could find something so soothing to do. I hope one day to walk into your bookstore, though I live thousands of miles away. I won’t forget to look for the buttons.

  38. I love seeing large collections of things. I started collecting keys until it got to too many. But i still buy and odd one that looks cool every now and again

  39. Those button videos were wonderful. I love the mother of pearl buttons too. I could watch/play with those forever. Can I start collecting pearl buttons? I will!

  40. My mother had a fantastic collection. It was probably composed of my grandmother’s and a couple of great aunts’ collections. At the estate sale one lady bought it all. More power to her. I’ve started my own small collection and I collect other things too (yarn I’m looking at you) so I didn’t want to bring it home, but oh there were some cool buttons in there. 🙂

  41. I love the buttons! Check out The Steamboat Arabia Museum website. It’s a steamboat found buried in a cornfield near the Missouri River. It’s quite a story. The museum is located in Kansas City, Missouri. The mud from the river preserved items headed to towns up the river. Barrels of buttons were found and they’re on display in the museum. Every time I see them, I want to run my hands they them! I think you’d really enjoy reading the story too.

  42. This is totally a real post. There is no where else where this post belongs. This is the best and I suddenly want to collect buttons! I once had a gajillion buttons and I made a Tlingit Button Blanket out of them and gave it to my Anthro professor at the end of the semester. I would love to have big bowls of buttons to run my hands through. Maybe when the plague ends I can start collecting.

  43. That was mind boggling! What treasures beyond belief! Thank you for letting us paw through your buttons with you.

  44. I’ve done the same but with these beads from BeadforLife.org. (They were much less expensive when I bought, so I guess they’re doing well.) Feeling good and doing good at the same time!

  45. In one of my favorite fabric shops back in my theatre days, there was a 55 gallon drum filled with buttons. It was so soothing to just sift through them, and sometimes finding treasures. I’d forgotten about that. Thank you for stepping in to keep the tradition alive.

  46. Wow! Thank you for sharing these videos. I never knew how symbolic, comforting, and creative a button collection could be.

  47. Button porn. ❤️❤️ I didn’t know button my obsession was a shared thing – now I feel so much less weird. I have a small collection, but would love to have many more. I love the feel, the look and the sounds they make. Thank you for the generous videos and for proving once again that I’m not alone, but part of a tribe who fit together.

  48. My mom had a button box of when I was a kid. I loved sorting them and running my fingers through them. This brings back fond memories!

  49. OMG I can still feel my great grandmothers button bowl. It was the 1 thing I wanted when she died. Alas my Uncle did not have the same sentiments as I did. So now it is lost. Thank you for helping me to realize I am not the only one who feels a sense of relaxation when plunging into buttons!

  50. Wowza! Now those are some REAL buttons! They are lovely, beautiful treasures! I would gladly drive down from Missouri to help clean buttons.

  51. I was going through some of my buttons last night searching for something to add to a Covid mask I made for my mother. I found a length of material in a box I got when my mother moved out of her housel that I recognized as the hem from a dress my grandmother wore. It must have been too long so my mom cut off a few inches and re-hemmed it for her. I have photos of her wearing it. I pieced together several sections and covered the front of a mask for my mom. I thought she’d enjoy wearing a mask that was made from a dress her mother wore. (my mom is 94 and asked me to make her a mask—I hope she stays in and doesn’t need it but…) I wanted to add some vintage buttons from my grandmother so I was sorting through the tins of them, got distracted and never did sew any to the mask. Doncha just love buttons?!

  52. I have spent 0 minutes of my life pondering buttons until now. What a grand collection! I think my favorite was the metal octopus button, how cool and different. Now I wonder what garment it originally belonged to and who wore it…like it has a little story to tell. Thanks for making the videos.

  53. You always delight me and bring me joy. I collect hedgehogs. Not real ones, they are cute but have fleas. It all started when I was living in Oxford and my Mom came from Canada to visit me. We decided to drive to Scotland and on the way all the traffic stopped. After a bit we went to check it out. We thought there was an accident. No, it was a mother hedgehog and her three babies crossing the highway. Everyone stopped to watch them. They were delightful and very slow in making their way. When we later went to Harrods in London my mother decided to buy me a Wade hedgehog. That was my first. Over the years friends and family just kept giving me hedgehogs. When they travelled they bought me a hedgehog. Now I have 352 hedgehogs. I only hope one of my grandhildren can sell them when I am gone and use the money to travel.

  54. Have you read Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series? This reminds me so much of them! Read Troubled Waters and see if you agree!

  55. These videos are SO SOOTHING. I started to doze off! You have beautiful buttons. 🤨 That wasn’t a euphemism! Thank you, Jenny! 🥰

  56. I absolutely DREAM about finding that many mother of pearl buttons in that many sizes! High up on my list of Outfits and Costumes I Long To Make For No Particular Reason is a proper Cockney Pearly Queen outfit, all black velvet and scads of buttons in swirly designs. I’ve no idea where the hell I’d wear it, but you best believe I would rock that shit.

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  57. Not sure why, but there is something very comforting about these videos 🥰

  58. My button bags are handed down from my mother and her mother, and are tucked into the bottom of my grandmother’s awesome sewing box. Neither woman was especially nice, but if I fill a jar with all the buttons it appears they’ll provide far more therapeutic relief than my relatives ever did.

  59. This is fascinating and mesmerizing and amazing. I LOVE the thought that these buttons had lives and that the echoes of those lives live on… I think I might just start collecting some buttons myself…. I’m not sure my husband will thank you…LOL!

  60. Oh, I love Buttons as well. I think my love might come from being a child of divorce & going to visit my Singer Sewing Store owning father over the summers. I’m sitting in my office / room of craftiness as I type this, surrounded by bins and bags of buttons that go into projects that I sell in a button themed jewelry shop. I also have a future button themed tattoo planned out. I just need to meet the singer of a huge rock band and have him write a song lyric out for me that will go along with a visual of said lyrics. I’d love to meet with your button shoveling gentleman as well… 🙂

  61. I am thinking a video of you scrubbing buttons with a tooth brush would be nice as well 🙂 Especially if the video contained an, “Ooh, look at this one.”

  62. My other collects buttons. Always thought she was strange but now I know she’s in good company.

  63. The word button has lost all meaning through repetition…Nicole #33 you can have a dragonfly button of your very own…just search for Czech dragonfly button and you’ll find ‘em—they still make them.

  64. Nice collection of buttons…as least I know where to go if I lose a button…

  65. Maybe you could try double-bagging some buttons in a lingerie bag and running them through the washing machine? I’m thinking double-bag to just be sure they don;t come flying out and clog up the machine. But if it works then a bag in every wash might be a relatively easy and efficient way to clean that big bin of buttons!

  66. I collect buttons too! Both family button jars (I recognize so many) and ones from friends and yard sales too.

  67. LOVE the idea of a button-cleaning party at your bookstore! That would be so cool! Seeing all those buttons immediately makes me wonder how many you have, how many individual buttons you have. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to make a guess on the jars, but omg that huge tub-full! (Lovelovelove all your button videos, so soothing!)

  68. Not ridiculous! I collect buttons also (thousands of dollars worth – now that’s ridiculous). A life-long love. And I know what you mean about running your hands through them. Loved your videos – they really were soothing! Why don’t you join the National Button Society?

  69. My mother has a tin of buttons, in it are the buttons from her mother, and her mother’s mother. I hope to someday inherit it. When I was a child when my mother was sewing she would show me the different buttons that were her favorite ones. I especially love the buttons that are flowers or butterflies or ladybugs. Buttons are the jewelry for clothes.

  70. Why is this so oddly satisfying and entertaining? I was mesmerized. So soothing. Thanks Jenny.

  71. Okay, so find the A&E TV series “Nero Wolfe” starring Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin and watch “The Mother Hunt” episode, where a unique button is key to tracking down the mother in question, and Archie has to consult The Button King in a button shop in 1940’s NYC. And then just watch the whole dang series, it’s great.

  72. This is a perfect example of finding the things that bring you joy, and then embracing it. You have an amazing talent for it, and I always appreciate the reminder to get in touch/keep in touch with my “joy lens”. Best to you.

  73. A friend introduced me to Soutache in Chicago – an entire store devoted to buttons and ribbon.
    I spent a wonderful hour browsing there.

  74. This post made me simultaneously happy and sad so, uh, congratulations on your skills? Heh. Seriously, though, my Grammy and I had a very odd relationship that blew hot and cold for any number of reasons (many of which I was clueless to) but one of the best recurring memories of her was how she let me play with her button tins. She even let me choose from her trove and helped me set up my own button tin. It always had to be a tin, you see, usually an old cookie tin. That way, she said, you could spread them out better and they made a nice sound. I had that button tin, seeded by her buttons, for ages. Sadly, I don’t know where it went. Perhaps donated in a fit of clearing-out when I was leaving my parents’ house. All I know is that I miss those buttons and the smell of them and the feel of them and how they made me think of Grammy. I still remember some of them so clearly – like the enormous faux wood one with the Scottie dog carved into it.

    Buttons and balloon animals, that’s her legacy to me. Like I said, we had an odd relationship.

  75. Wow – that is like, button porn.
    And totally understandable at the same time…

    :Looks around her house for where she could store some buttons:

  76. Definitely soothing sounds and mesmerizing to watch. It is a lovely collection and completely reasonable. Thank you.

  77. I am envious of your marvelous collection of buttons. I am also a collector. I love taking a bowl of buttons to dig and find the right ones to make art or jewelry from. Each little work is gifted to someone I find needs a little uplift. You have uplifted my day by sharing your bounty. Thank you.
    P.S. I now have a goal of finding more Mother of Pearl and Pressed Glass buttons. You just stirred up my creative mind. Thank you again.

  78. I have my mom’s button collection. She was 95 when she passed 2 years ago. My husband and adult sons think it’s junk and something is wrong with me. There is something wrong. I’ve suffered with anxiety, depression and PTSD. I am sorry to be such a downer. Mother’s Day holds no respite. Quarantine makes it worse. Mental illness is so fucking hard.

  79. My hand physiotherapist has bins of different sizes small objects (beans mostly, buttons, and similar) to use for sensory therapy. I’m not surprised you find this comforting. Thanks for sharing these!

  80. I LOVE them too. I bought two jars at Salvation Army.I have my grandmas and my great grandma’s button cans. Thank you soo much for sharing your wonderful treasures!

  81. A button cleaning party sounds wonderful, but letting customers reach into a huge barrel and pull out a lucky talisman is pure magic! Please do it!

  82. After reading the first two paragraphs, my first thought was, ‘I wonder whether a lot of people are going to send her buttons, so she’ll have enough to fill a fishtank.’ Looks like you’ve got that covered, so now you just need a whole ocean of buttons!

  83. I love buttons too…they’re very soothing to look at and play with. I used to have a collection but lost it in a move. When a box went missing. I hope somehow that box was found abandoned in a warehouse and someone found themselves a treasure!

  84. When I was a little girl I would visit & stay with my great-grandma. She had a tin with so many different buttons from a variety of old clothing. I wish I had them now…buttons always remind me of her. Anyone else make a “twizzer”? I used crochet thread and a good sized button. Then you would pull on both ends of the tied string to make the thread twist and spin the button. Memories. 🥰

  85. How awfully soothing and satisfying these videos are! I always had a fascination with buttons as a kid. My parents owned a dry cleaners and there always seemed to be buttons lying around. I was never allowed to keep them but as an adult I started saving buttons from old clothes and thoroughly enjoy sorting them by colour (because I’m a librarian it seems the right thing to do). Turns about I’m not alone!

  86. Do you have a P.O box, so that people can send you things? I have many odd buttons that have come with jewelry lots, and I can’t think of a better home for them.

  87. My beloved Bloggess, this is real. Thank you for letting us share the little joys of a deep bowl of buttons, as well as the deep thoughts. We all need something soothing this year.

  88. You could totally make some extra money with a button-based asmr yourube channel. You have the touch

  89. … and suddenly my collection (inspired by your old button sound videos) now seems so much more, reasonable?

    and possibly postworthy.

  90. I really thought I was such a crazy person to collect strange things, but as I get older I’m realizing that almost everyone has their weird thing they collect. This is going to sound inappropriate but I don’t know how else to put it, but I want to feel your buttons.

  91. I love the idea of a button barrel at the bookshop! While I cringe a little (a lot)…cuz it’d be like a giant germ sink…I do really like the idea. Kids especially would have been drawn to it. I can see their little hands with buttons filtering through…one more bit of magic at Nowhere.

  92. Two things.
    First–You have beautiful hands.
    Second–The button factory!? What an awesome memory you just dredged up for me. Sometime around 1976, I realized that all my great aunts and both my grandmothers knew each other, and had for a very very long time. What they said to me? “Oh, we worked together at the button factory.” Seemingly every young female Italian immigrant from anywhere in Italy that landed in Rochester, NY from 1917 through at least 1929, “Worked together at the button factory.”
    Thanks! 😀

  93. The only word I have for these videos is… DELICIOUS. I don’t know why! It’s magical the way they tinkle and the stories they hold. I have a very small collection, but I can’t let it go. You’ve inspired me to go hunting for more. I love the idea of them being lucky talismans and sneaking them into places for people to discover the magic. <3

  94. I love your buttons! I used to have a big jar of mismatched buttons (nothing as extensive as this), but alas – it got lost somewhere in one of the many moves over the last decade or so. Makes me sad since a lot of them were from my grandma’s antique shop.

  95. A friend of mine inherited a button collection. One of the metal buttons had an image of King George with a noose around his neck. These buttons were worn by Colonists rebelling against English rule. It was in mint condition and worth thousands!

  96. I had to click on your post today because the title is something that my mom says. I don’t know why she says it, but as yesterday was Mother’s Day, it was another wonderful reminder of why I love her…..she’s her own person who says things that I don’t understand. I hope you had a great Mother’s Day!

  97. I can relate to button collecting – big time! I have a collection myself and it is hard to sew any of my special ones onto an actual garment as that is a big decision! I work as a designer in the fashion industry and looking at button collections is wonderful. Of course I always gravitate to the pricey ones. One year the company I worked for decided to close – but all the design team had to clean out the studio. I spent ages with my boss – divvying up the buttons we had. Later we realized there were much more valuable things we could have pinched! But there we were, going through the button stash. Ha!

  98. I can not believe I just watched every second of every one of those videos.
    It was JUST what I needed and I had no idea that I needed it.
    thanks

  99. Should you ever get to Duham, NC, you really MUST visit The Scrap Exchange (https://scrapexchange.org). They recycle and upcycle absolutely everything! And, man, do they have buttons! It is an amazing place.
    Warning to Victor: proceed with caution; you may never get her out of there.

  100. Now I know you and I are of the same people. I was skeptical before.

  101. Dorothy Beavington! I can’t believe it! Another hedgehog collector! Amazing! I also started with one Wade figurine and now have, well nowhere near your collection, but a couple hundred. I also hope my daughter’s will be able to do someting, or better yet, enjoy them! I do also have my grandma’s and Mother’s button box which is overflowing with treasures that I have added to over the years. That is why I love this group of like minded Strangelings. I used to feel alone in my weirdness. Now I know I have all of you! 💕

  102. OMG THESE ARE GORGEOUS!!! I’ve always enjoyed but have never really collected buttons, though I’ve thought about it. I’ve started using them in my mixed media crafts and card making, as part of me feels like I need to find practical uses for them. Thank you for sharing these vids! I found it calming and fasinating to watching and find beautiful buttons in your collection

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