At one point not too long ago when I found myself once again between jobs, I thought of something to occupy my mind and my hands and I remembered the buttons. I had already made three button pillows (in the style of Northwest Coast button blankets) with a bunch of the pearl buttons. What to do this time? How about a hamsa on a canvas?
Where to start? The buttons … my mom, Mollie Bacola Fromm, was a union (ILGWU) member in her youth – more on that another time. When we were kids, she taught us to embroider and me to sew while she worked as a seamstress. A favorite activity during a rain storm or when we were snow bound was to go through her collection of buttons. You might not believe it, but it was fun – so many sizes, shapes, colors. Although I have not yet taught my daughter to sew, we continued the tradition of sorting the antique buttons many nights during our Florida summer storm season, especially when the power went out.
The hamsa … It’s a bit stylized, the fingers are not clearly articulated, but hamsa it is. When I had just finished it, a friend pulled out an amazing, huge, large, engraved square pearl button. It found a place toward the top of the figure. I like my pearl hamsa watching over me from high on the bedroom wall. It’s now joined by the much more colorful Mardi Gras bead hamsa.
And now … Recently, I was exploring and cleaning out some storage spaces – my daughter wants me to Marie Kondo the house. But I love all my stuff. I dug out an old Crabtree and Evelyn heart-shaped tin (dating back to graduate school!) and found another unmarked tin filled with my own collection of wonderful antique buttons. In the grouping was another large, round pearl button. One space on the bottom of the image called for it and now it has a new home on the pearl button hamsa.
I promise more hamsas in future posts.