Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Buttons : Button Artist Laura Walker

Gwyneth button in burgundy

This week I am featuring the most beautiful, though still functional, button creations that are made by button artist Laura Walker aka veronicabuttons on Etsy from Sheffield in the UK.

She writes: "If buttons didn't exist I'd have had to invent them, if I can get a needle through it I feel compelled to stitch it. I am one girl who works like a fiend in her studio in England to produce very unique, quirky, button morsels."

Prunela ceramic button in pink and black

I asked Laura some quirky questions and here are her answers !

Why is it that you make what you make ?

I'm obsessed with details (I'm an embroiderer) and my thing has always been hand stitch particularly utility stitches and fastenings, I'm also obsessed with the idea of making everything from scratch myself. So when it came to buttons I couldn't find exactly what I wanted and I couldn't 'imprint' my making process on pre-made buttons, so I decided to make my own.

Why is it that you do not make what others make ?

I seem to be forever on a quest to create something different, Currently it's very hard to be completely unique as there is the argument that there is nothing new we are at the stage where everything has already been done, unless it's new technology. So it's a challenge but I like a challenge, it's not satisfying making what others make and even if I am doing something similar to others i have to find a unique angle so that what I create is 'my own'.

Do you mind placing items on Etsy that you like very much yourself but others do not seem to feel so ?

I can't please everybody I have come across people who either don't like my work or don't 'get' it. I can happily say that on Etsy I have had nothing but positive feedback about my work no one has told me they didn't like it.

Do you ever make items you do not like yourself but others do ?

Mostly everything I make I have to like otherwise I wouldn't be motivated to make it. Colours have however always been an issue. I have had to 'break out' of favourite colour habits but this has been liberating and broadened my 'colour likes', I still have preferences but I can be far more objective in terms of creating colour ways for my work.

Frany delicate lace button in tea and jade

Most people desire both beauty and functionality but those two functions are often incompatible. How do you deal with this ?

At university my work completely disregarded function, I saw function and practicalities as an obstacle to my creative freedom so opted out of the designer/ maker functional objects like bags and scarves, if I made these object they would just be pieces of art and so it didn't matter if they incorporated rusty wire. With my buttons I am fortunate to find something practical and beautiful that has broad possibilities both in function and just pure aesthetics.

Why do you make buttons ? and, for example, not flowerpots ?

I'm an embroiderer first and foremost so everything I do is from the perspective of an embroiderer, my burning question is always 'can I get a needle through it?' Buttons are never complete in my eyes unless they are stitched. Clay enables me to make buttons, I have no interest in making any other traditional ceramic related items as for me it in no way relats to fabric or embroidery.

And why are you working with ceramics ? and, for example, not with wood ?

I use ceramics because it is practical, I get the aesthetic I want and it works amazingly well with fabric. I did experiments with resin early on in my button making research and found that to be messy time consuming and the aesthetic was wrong for me. I wanted colours to be like the colours of my fabrics and I wanted to be able to 'print' on the buttons ceramics was the perfect solution.

Could you satisfy your creational cravings another way ? for example through ballet, singing, photography or poetry ?

In short yes and no, I did ballet as a child and it was great but making visuals is specifically suited to me, it must be visual. If I stop making/ creating it always eeks out in some form of visual output. I'm currently in a place where I am fulfilling a lot of orders which is essentially re-making objects I have already designed which is not particularly creative. I have had to find other means to satisfy my creativity and I did this sub-consciously without realising at first, I see now more than ever that I have to create to survive!

How do you choose your colours and shapes ?

For colour combinations I look at everything and anything. I'm always consciously trying to break out of my colour 'safe zone' as in the past i could be very fixed in my ideas about colours, so a woman could get on the bus in a patterned vintage inspired dress with blue subdued red and cream in the design, it gets logged in my head and I try it on a button. Shapes are limited by the shapes of cutters I can get but I have avoided intricate shapes as the patterns on the buttons and colours are the emphasis.

Rectangular button with glass in red and yellow


Carol Dean said...

I am the proud owner of several of Laura's buttons and can attest to their fantasticness! Love them so much I haven't had the heart to use (and thus lose) them in my work. I just take them out every once in a while and fondle. LOL Great feature, Petronella :D

ingermaaike said...

Those buttons are the most amazing! *runs off to study the shop*

glasfaden said...

Great interview & lovely buttons!

Kreativlink said...

Great post and gorgeous buttons

fleurfatale said...

I already found this great artist and it's one of my favs,
I am a button addict too, love them!!!!

Heli said...

Wow! what a great button artist!

Lisa gatz said...

thank you for sharing Laura's work and thoughts! I adore your work as well. I'm obsessed with buttons. One of my instructors is teaching a class with buttons on a sculptural doll and I purchased some vintage buttons for it...now I'm a goner!

Ravenhill said...

wow, those are gorgeous and highly original buttons!

creationsbyeve said...

Great feature and great artist!Thanks for introducing!!

Star of the East said...

Great interview!
The buttonworld is really interesting :)

matchstickgirl said...

wonderful i love people who are doing their dream ... and on their own terms !!!

Giftbearer said...

Very pretty buttons!

La Pomme said...

wow! those buttons are like little works of art!

ana carina said...

Oohhh buttons, lovely buttons!


Kari said...

That was a very interesting interview. It's so nice of you to feature her!

blackfeatherfarm said...

Beautiful buttons - nice post !

w said...

those buttons are awesome! thanks for the intro! must check out her shop...