Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Painted Apple Juice: The Detained Rose


There was a time when I only dreamed of owning a button so frail and exquisite. Emily Dickinson, when she wasn't scrawling her lifetime's verses in secret genius, was famously fond of pressing beloved peonies and sweet-peas from her backyard's garden and that's what this button reminds me of: a page out of the poet's herbarium. Fashioned at the back, deeply carved-out folds form the roundabout petals of this epic rose, which was probably sculpted in the mid 1920's. The whittled section was then painted an earthy pink that gives the gaping blossom the look of a conserved object hovering inside of a tarnished glass blister. Like the etched cluster of grapes that I posted as yesterday's feature, carved and painted apple juice buttons have the appearance of ancient pictures sunken under a shallow pool of honeyed faerie urine or some other amber-hued sealant. This is where Bakelite branches off into a strange, ethereal and nearly-forgotten art form.

-Sherbert McGee     

Monday, September 26, 2016

Painted Apple Juice: Grapes in Green


Last month I mentioned that I'd soon be posting a full week of "Painted Apple Juice Buttons" and so begins that week. This post is the commencement of some of my prettiest Bakelite and rarest too. Painted a dusty green, the deeply carved grapes on the bottom of this button are slightly magnified when looked at from the top view. I'm smitten by painted AJ buttons and this one's a sacred prize in that it epitomizes the defining swank and style of the 1920's known, famously, as Art Deco. Seldom do I photograph the undersides of my vintage keepsakes, but here is a second photo (below) that shows this button's carved and painted respects:




Stay tuned! More painted apple juice buttons all this week.

-Sherbert McGee 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Experiment


This irregular button is one of my Bakelite conundrumsa real bizarro-of-a-button. At a glance, the color is a deep brown with unevenly dispersed swirls of gold, whereas the lady who sold me this button called it the darkest rootbeer button she'd ever seen. Looking at it closely, I'd also classify the Bakelite as a rootbeer, although it's so uncustomarily dark that I might even call this button an example of molasses Bakelite. Meanwhile, look at the design on this thing. I see a shark's fin etched with a row of ten lines and a cluster of bubbled periods. Indeed, this button almost looks like an experiment that slipped out of the factory and made it into the material world back in the mid-1930's.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, September 23, 2016

Autumn Leaves


Autumn is my favorite season and here's a button to commemorate its bristly beauty and the rich yellows of nature that highlight this time of year. A highly carved piece of cream-tone Bakelite with three leaves forming an Art Deco feast for the eyes, this antiquated button is the King of Fanciness. Like part of a showgirl's costume, circa 1925, I see an old-time cabaret every time I study this leafy relic. On that note, here's a befitting quote by the French playwright and essayist, Albert Camus: Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

Autumnal cheers!

-Sherbert McGee    

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chocolate Extraordinaire


Brown Bakelite takes the cake. This button comes courtesy of my friend, Doreen, who sent it to me last month. What I like about this chocolate champ is the variety of carved detail it sets forth with spots and swirls and a central design resembling a chicken's footprints! When it comes to Bakelite, it goes without saying that a brown button is a treasured fudge nugget.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chunky Reds


Be it brooch, bracelet, bead or button, I've noticed that collectors of Bakelite frequently use the word "chunky" to describe a vintage find. Here's a pair of deeply curved bowl buttons that plainly qualify for that adjective. When I was a kid I used to dine on SpaghettiOs from a set of bright red bowls that looked just like these merry mortars. Both buttons are flawlessand straight out of the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, September 19, 2016

Quintessential Bakelite


A button oozing with carved detail, this vintage knockout boasts a distinctive "suction cup" design mingled with a three-petaled concept. A bit of patina rests in some of the hewn craftwork. So what? A little smut never killed the cat. This button could be a contender for the definitive example of a Bakelite coat fixture. It possesses a dash of everything: sculpted artistry, balance, urbanity, style, pluck and a pitch-black stateliness.

-Sherbert McGee 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wedded Squares


Originally, I had planned on posting these square-shaped buttons separately, but then I put them together and saw an instant marriage. Roughly the same size, the one at left is a butterscotch deal with the sides pinched down. The one at right is a two-tone button showing signs of Art Deco. Both buttons tested positive for Bakelite. Made in the 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Case of the Incredibly Strange, Amphibious Yo-Yo


Once upon a time, my friend Doreen emailed me with the news of finding this unusually formed button. "It'll go wonderfully in your collection," she told me. And sure enough, here it rests like a misshapen salamander. The earthy color is moss and the shape is almost like that of a stubby spool (or a yo-yominus its string). My favorite thing about this button is the etched away splotches that give this Bakelite oldster the look of a spotted swamp creature. 

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bakelite Ménage à Trois


Admittedly not my best photograph, this dark button boasts three tones of Bakelite. The base and outer edges are a deep chocolate. Two stripes of rootbeer Bakelite surround the central band, which is apple juice infused with glitter. At first glance this button is a drab chunk of overcast hues, but look closely and there is a lot going on with this angular and complex relic from the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee