Capturing The Essence Of A Subject In Buttons


 

EXPLORING 3D TEXTILES - CAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF A SUBJECT IN BUTTONS

Buttons. I love them! I collected them as a child. My Mother used them in her dressmaking. They are little jewels to be treasured. They come in such a wide range of colour, size, shape, pattern and texture. They can be flat, 3D, matte, shiny, mass produced, bespoke, modern and vintage. I use them to build colour, create depth, add light and contouring to flat surfaces. I express emotion through carefully considered buttons. Explore with me the diversity of a simple and functional object.

CAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF A SUBJECT IN BUTTONS

Shining eyes capture a spirit of children at play in ‘Old Ted’. And a plush velvet nose, soft and fragile, nods to a deep maternal instinct to nurture and protect.

Capturing the essence of children at play
A spirit of children at play

An elaborate jewel celebrates a life lived in ‘Reducing Us To Simply A Heartbeat’.

Expressing womanhood through an elaborate jewel
Capturing the essence of woman in an elaborate jewel

ESTABLISHING A TIMELINE WITH VINTAGE BUTTONS

Collecting over a period of time and from a range of sources (car boot sales and charity shops are great for vintage treasures) is essential in establishing a timeline within your collection. The natural ageing process softens leather and suede, a maturity capturing the essence of an older generation.

Establishing a timeline using vintage buttons
Vintage leather and suede buttons adorn panels in ‘Old Ted’

Natural wear and tear produces a rich narrative using vintage buttons.

Old buttons provide a rich narrative
A scuffed button effectively captures the erosion of a shoreline in ‘Button Beach’

BUILDING A COLOUR PALETTE

The more diverse your collection of buttons the greater your ability to achieve depth within a colour palette. Subtle variations in colour, tone, age and pattern creates a natural density.

Diversity within the colour palette
A warm colour palette of golden hues in ‘Three Ages of Beach’

3D Textiles – CREATING TEXTURAL DEPTH  

Depth is achieved by overlapping edges and layering flat buttons to produce a textural contouring, creating an upper level to the flat background.

Creating textural depth in layering buttons
Layering creates a raised surface in ‘Jesus 1’

Variation within scale adds a dramatic quality to a design, creating a rich textural depth.

Varying scale creates dramatic impact and textural depth
A rich textural depth in ‘Abstract Flower Design E’

I adore buttons and will continue to collect and use them in my work. For more examples, visit The Natural Collection and The Womanhood Collection by CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM 

Christine Cunningham

Creating art from recycled materials using traditional methods (applique, patchwork, quilting) with a modern exploration into fabric manipulation and padded structure. Unusual materials include hair, plastic, rubber, metal, disintegrating fabrics and found objects. I source my treasures from carboot sales, charity shops and freecycle. Original poetry captures the essence of an experience, an emotional layering to which the viewer can relate on a personal level. I have two bodies of work. The Natural Collection explores abstract flower design and the seasons, religion, visions of India and Buddhism, childhood nostalgia and the seaside. The Womanhood Collection explores natural states of being including breast cancer, sexuality, the ageing process, anatomy, love, fragility and independence. I was inspired by my own experiences of breast cancer, both the physical brutality and fragility of living in the aftermath.

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