Thursday, June 22, 2006

Buttons vs. Beads

A couple of posts ago I promised to reveal the answer to the question posed about number of bead books vs. number of button books available through Amazon. The simple answer, which surprised me, is this: Buttons = 1500; Beads = 1200.

However, the simple answer is rarely the whole story. Let's investigate further! Until recently the noun button referred to ”any small disk or knob used for fastening, as on a garment or shoe.” In fact, that definition is right out of my 1984 Webster’s Dictionary.

Sometime during the past century, political buttons, the kind that pin to your jacket and say things like “Vote for Joe,” became popular, and in recent years collectible as well. Now if you search eBay for “buttons,” you get more political buttons than sewing buttons.

Even more recently, we began to see what I call push buttons, which are little graphics used on websites and blogs to give viewers an opportunity to choose an action (rollover buttons, radial buttons, etc.). Recently I searched the word button under Google - Search All Blogs, and got a gazillion pages of blog listings, nearly all of which were about designing “push buttons.” In fact the first listing referring to sewing buttons wasn't until page 9 of the listings.

Fortunately (for my sanity) a bead is still a bead is a bead. Not true about buttons. A “sewing button” is not a “political button” is not a “push button.” And that takes us back to Amazon. Out of the first 20 titles resulting from searching button, 13 are not about sewing buttons. Out of the first 20 titles resulting from searching bead, all 20 are about beads as we know and love them. Ah ha! Doesn’t that change the answer to the original question?!! Yup, bead fans… there are many more books in print about beads than about sewing buttons.

This is of special interest to me, because in 1985, when I first began my beaded pathway, there were no books in print about beads... not one! I found two pamphlet type books in a used bookstore, one about Native American loomwork beading and one about beaded flowers made on wire. Now, just 21 years later, beads and beading have become so popular, that there are more than 1200 titles available, which include not only books about many different beading techniques, but the history of beads and bead collecting as well.

For pure inspiration, one of my favorite books is 500 Beaded Objects... a book which prooves beyond a doubt that beading has come into its own in the world of art as recognized by galleries, museums and collectors. And, by the way, I just have to add one little brag... that's my piece on the cover (Rosie, the Uncaged Hen)!


  1. You're right...buttons are no longer buttons! So I guess I guessed incorrectly!

    Thanks for one more book to add to my growing wish list on Amazon! Your cover on this one is beautiful!
    (And now I'm really leaving for Burbank!)

  2. Robin, how thrilling to witness and participate in the recent explosion of your artform, beadwork. I find it hard to believe there were so few resources about it in the mid-80's, but if you say so it must be true. Wow!
    Doesn't it give you hope and faith that all is good, and progress is being made in this civilization of ours?

  3. You rock ... the queen of beads. Incredible - creative - colorful - what talent GF!!


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