My hubby and I have been calling this the “Button Card Blog” since I originally told him the story.
I have been making and selling reproduction glass buttons in my shop for about five years. They are available as singles, or organized onto cards by size. They have been for sale for the same price for the past five years – $20 for a card of six matched buttons or $3 each for single buttons. No one has ever questioned this arrangement until last fall. Someone, reading the information on prices, asked the question “Is this an intelligence test?” I admit… his question made me laugh. I sell other things, like veil pins, in multiples. $2 each or 3 for $5. The person sorts through the pins, chooses any three that they like, and pays $5.
So why isn’t the button “deal” as good as the veil pin deal? Well, for those who may not have seen these buttons, they are glass with metal shanks. And they are for sale either on cards, or in small compartments in a plastic box. They require a LOT more labor and skill than the veil pins do, and there is more to processing them.
This is my process. As soon as the buttons are cool they come up to the house and wait their turn on my beading table. They are sorted into compartments based on their size, using a digital micrometer. When an individual compartment gets too full (I often make over a hundred buttons in a sitting), I stop and put them on cards. Each card is pre-punched with slits for six buttons. The individual button shanks are pushed through the slits and I assess how they look together. These buttons are made by hand, so there are slight variations in the shape of the buttons. This is consistent with the pre-1600’s buttons that I have seen – the smaller and rounder they are, the more likely they are to be close to round, and the larger they are the more likely they are to be slightly oval. After I approve of the collection that is on the card, I use a large tapestry needle to thread a cord through the backs of the buttons to keep them on the card, and the card is transferred to the button stock – either on the display racks or in the back-stock box. And this is why people pay extra for matching buttons.
I have seen people spend over a half hour sorting through the individual buttons in the “singles” box to find a collection of buttons that are “close enough” to work together. They are allowed to do that! But personally I don’t usually want to spend that much time at an event sorting through buttons, when I can buy them pre-sorted. So, no, it is not an intelligence test, maybe it is just a time management test. If you LOVE to shop and sort through tiny little things like buttons, then please be my guest…there are things that I will sort through for long periods of time, too. But if you have other things to do, just buy a card and go!