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.Β  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 5thΒ  – when I do my first proper fair….eeek!

summer fayre 3

About DawnGillDesigns

Finally able to make stuff and get paid for it!!! How cool is this?! Find me and my shinies on www.DawnGillDesigns.com and as @DawnGillDesigns on social media
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16 Responses to A special gift from the past

  1. katechiconi says:

    I do envy you that button box. One of my grandmothers died before I was born, and the other when I was two, so I never really knew either. I have my mother’s sewing box, and a small number of her buttons; she died in 1984, before my love of sewing really took off, and in any case, both my parents were inveterate chuckers-out of things their children wish they’d kept! Your jewellery will keep the chain of memory alive, and mother-of-pearl buttons are often pretty enough to be jewels in their own right. I hop you’ll let us know how their new owners like these mementos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kate – what a lovely comment. Thank you.
      Mum tells me two of them put them on immediately – she put the bride’s little parcel into the main pile of gifts. Hopefully she will realise it’s from me when she sees her sisters!
      If I get feedback I’ll share. It’s only been a week.
      These grandparents were hoarders. They lived in the same house from marriage in 1939 til after grandad died and eventually we had to bring nan to a care home here in Devon in 2003. They had kept pretty close to everything – all correspondence, all gifts (whatever they were) anytbing they thought they might be able to reuse. Clearing the house was a real challenge.
      I got to spend much more time with her when she was more local.
      The other grandparents were much keener on clearing out.
      My Mum never knew her grandparents either, so it continues to surprise me when she expresses disappointment that ‘we aren’t a close family’ given they chose to distance themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. acflory says:

    The bracelets are lovely, Dawn, but the history of their making is even more beautiful. I can imagine the love invested in every tiny button. So very special.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dvberkom says:

    Such a special gift. 5 stars for being so thoughtful! And the bracelets themselves are quite lovely. You’re a talented lady, lady πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joanne S says:

    This is such a sweet post. My heart was definitely touched by Nan’s saving of the pearl buttons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joanne. When I told my mum the story, she hadn’t been aware that nan had done that either, so there was an extra little win in that it gave her a new memory of her mum.


  5. Dawn,in a comment on my blog you pointed out that you also made the silver charm on the bracelets from one of your Nan’s buttons, but you didn’t go into detail on that process here in your post! Do you have a different post where you do explain that? Or, should you write a new post with that process??? Hmmm? πŸ™‚
    I am always in awe at how much attention you pay to the details of each piece; that is really inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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