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Buttons from my Grandmother: A Journey through Tradition and Memory

Sep 8, 2023 | ERGANI weaving workshop


My earliest memory is me sitting on the floor of my room with a dark red lacquered box full of buttons in front of me. I could take them out, count them, short them out, learn their history.
– This red and white one is from the skirt I had when I was 12 years old. It was in the package of clothes that the Americans had sent after the war.
– This is from the olive green silk dress I wore to my engagement. It is covered with the same silk fabric. It accentuated my eyes so well…
– That big gray button is from the robe my grandfather wore to the shop. A robe made of thick ship’s cloth to protect his suit from paint.
– The yellow duck was sewn onto your brother’s jacket.
– This black glossy one was from grandma’s mantle. She wore it every year, when she was leaving the island to spend the winter in Athens


The button box

Each button from the red box carried its own story, entwined the stories of the family with the history of our country and the whole world. As I grew older the box filled up. Sometimes with black buttons, when our loved ones started leaving us, other times with colorful children’s buttons, when new members came to the family.


All the handwoven animals we make have buttons for eyes

This box was one of the first things I brought from my parents’ house when we opened workshop. And the collection of buttons keeps growing as friends and people I know come and bring me bags of different buttons, which carry their own stories because they know that “this is where they will find a place”.


The woven cats with their button-eyes

And of course they are usefull, because we use buttons in many of our woven creations. Buttons are the eyes of cats, owls and most of the animals we make. We will also use buttons as a decorative elements on pillows and wall hangings, complementing flowers or other designs. The wooden button with our logo is on our handmade t-shirts and hats and in a larger size on woven bags.
So, each button we add to a handwoven fabric is like putting a piece of our heart into each creation, a piece that connects us to memory and history.


The wooden button with the ERGANI logo

PS1. The deep red lacquered box that has the button collection inside has its own special story. It arrived at our house full of Belgian pralines, several years before I was born.
PS2. Lydia, since she was little, used to short out the buttons by colour and thanks to her we can immediately find the color we want.

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