Emily Eckel Artisan Buttons

Artist: Emily Eckel

What kind of items do you make?
I make artisan buttons. All of my buttons are either an interpretation of a preindustrial revolution button making technique or a technique that involves recycling old buttons. In other words I like to make old things new. I am particularly fascinated with button making techniques from the 16th & 17th centuries. Those people made the most of the resources locally available to them. I try to adapt the old techniques to the resources locally available to me.

How long have you been an indie artist?
I come from an artsy family and have always thought of myself as an artist. I came of age and embraced the counter culture in the late sixties. Since that time I’ve been comfortable with participating in activities that are outside of the mainstream culture. I suppose I’ve been an indie artist for a long time.

What got you interested in your art of choice?
I became involved with fiber arts in the 1990s when my sister passed away and left me the contents of her fiber arts studio. The inheritance changed my life and opened up creative possibilities such as button making and art dolls. I had learned the basics of the fiber arts in childhood from the women in my family. The inheritance gave me the resources and motivation to further explore the fiber arts. It’s been a lot a fun and I frequently thank my sister for her gift.

I became interested in button making through the retirement planning process. I wanted to develop a creatively interesting business that I can pursue through the aging process. After looking at various options I realized that contemporary artisan button making is being explored by very few people. It’s an area of the fiber arts where I can make a contribution to the community. Button making has a long and rich history and I think it’s fun!

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Without a doubt it is experience of the creative process. I crave studio time and the satisfaction of making beautiful buttons.

What most inspires you?
I am amazed by the resourcefulness and creativity of the button makers of Dorset, England in the late 1600s.

What makes your creations unique?
I am reviving centuries old button making techniques and rendering them with materials that are from my sister’s stash or locally available sources.

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?

I love the cleverness of the Dorset cross wheel button! As for color, I’ve always been a fool for red.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
My enthusiasm for artisan buttons! I’m not sure many indie fiber artists realize the rich possibilities of making their own buttons.

What is your fiber arts superpower?

The camaraderie of spending creative time with other artisans.

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