Thursday, August 26, 2010




If you look up a town in southeast Iowa, Muscatine, you might not really think much of it. Muscatine is a sleepy little river town stuck right up into rolling hills right off the Mississippi river, and is actually a very pretty part of the midwest. I remember visiting as a little kid all my extended family here, its where my parents grew up. I remember humidity like you wouldn't believe, cicadas the size of softballs singing into the night, and the blackest dirt I've ever seen. And in that melon-growing dirt you could find the coolest clamshell buttons, all broken up into fragmented white bits. If the sun was shining at just the right angle and if you were lucky, a whole button would surface its little self, all shiny like the inside of a clamshell, with two funny holes smack dab in the middle. Or even better, a whole clamshell with button holes stamped out of it. I can remember these little buttons everywhere down by the rivers, in flower pots, in backyards, in green jungle alleys behind my Aunt Pete's house, even in the cement downtown. Buttons Everywhere! Apparently, the Mississippi harbored enough fat little clamshells that the town of Muscatine became the pearl button capital of the midwest, coined the term "pearling the mississipi", and the commodity led a booming economy in the early 1900s.

This is a clamshell antique button that came with a thousand others, some resin, some colored shell, some clam, in an old barnum-and-baileys cookie tin i stole from my mom (which I am sure came from my grandma). I took these buttons a few years ago, thinking...well, I could someday make some jewelry out of them...not knowing then that I would actually know how to make them into jewelry. Funny how that all just plays itself out.

On the back of this piece is stamped " Life's Simple Pleasures". If there is anything simple and beautiful to me, it is definitely a pearl button from my grandma's collection.