This evening I wandered into the local chain fabric store after having made some photocopies at the chain office-supply store next door. As usual I headed to the button racks, hoping to find a few interesting examples of the koumpounologist's arcane art. I was a bit taken aback to find that the button rack was full of interesting buttons- and a bit disturbed.
You would think I would be thrilled. But I could only shake my head in rueful disillusion. Card after card of buttons designed to entice me- but that was the problem. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. A large part of the thrill was- and remains- the hunt. Searching through bins of old, dusty cards from the 60's or earlier. Pawing through the contents of button jars purchased at yard sales or flea markets for the few gems. Sorting the contents of almost opaque old plastic bags full of odd buttons. Opening a rusty, battered mint tin from someone's grandmother that had been placed in my hands by a generous friend. The squeak of an ancient display rack in a small five & dime in a small town on a blue highway...
None of that here- the charm of buttons has been co-opted by the chain store.
Did I buy some? Of course I did. I did not, however, choose the obviously cute buttons- too slick, too calculated. I need to endow them with charm through the process of making my art with them- not slap on some ready-made charm. It all reminds me of what happened when the market was flooded with those ghastly teapots that were consciously-designed to look like a sewing table or a tea table. I love real, authentic teapots- they are marvels of useful design. And I love real buttons. Can inner authenticity be achieved through outward means- no, but I can applaud these little bits of authenticity in an increasingly unauthentic world.
My name is Polly and I am a koumpounomaniac.