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Barb Hehner



My love of buttons came first. My immigrant grandmother knitted, crocheted, embroidered, and sewed clothing for her family—all without patterns. It was only years afterward that I realized how talented she was. But even as a young child, I was drawn to her wonderful biscuit tin full of buttons. I would sort them by size, colour, and “most beautiful,” and arrange them to create pictures. When she passed away I inherited them.

For the past seven years I have been creating assemblage earrings, pendants and bracelets that feature vintage buttons as well as lace, ribbon, watch parts, deconstructed jewellery and other found elements.

I find working with old buttons endlessly fascinating. Their varied shapes and balance points are challenging to incorporate into jewellery—essentially they are items meant to be displayed 2-dimensionally, now being used in a 3-dimensional context.

Through these small objects, I feel deeply connected to my grandmother, and to all the other women who have made beautiful things when plainer ones would have served the same purpose, for the pleasure of it.