Spotlight on artisan Frances Casey
It’s so much fun watching Frances Casey’s eyes light up when you start to talk with her about buttons. Her whole face sort of sparkles and her body seems to lift slightly like a dancer’s anticipating the start of some graceful melody. She’ll lovingly caress whatever antique button she has closest to hand and tell you in tender words all about its history, a delighted giggle seeming to hover just under the surface of her earnest discussion. She is, in fact, totally and completely, no doubt about it, head over heels in love with antique buttons. Not only is this obvious when talking with her in person, it also shows in her thoughtful crafting of delightfully unique pieces of jewelry to highlight the artistry of the buttons themselves and in the delicate way she arranges her completed masterpieces in their display case at the inn.
Frances started her love affair with buttons in 1998 when she saw a picture in Victoria magazine about a little shop in Louisiana called Grandmother’s Buttons that was repurposing old buttons into modern family heirlooms. She says that when she saw that article’s pictures of jewelry made from antique buttons, “It was as if I had fallen in love for the first time.” The delightful world of vintage buttons slowly drew her further and further in over the next 20 years, leading her on treasure hunting expeditions across the USA and over the pond in Europe as she met with private collectors and attended every button show she could find. She even recently had the opportunity to go lead a week-long buttoning workshop near Prague in the Czech Republic that left her dancing on air.
Such pure delight in one’s craft is nothing if not infectious, and the many of us in the Mendocino community that know and love Frances have come to take joy in sharing her beautiful work with friends and family that come to visit. Whether we show off her elegant pieces in the foyer at the inn or go see what she has on display at both Sandpiper Jewelry on Main Street and The Great Put On - Art to Wear, we see her gleeful grin in every bracelet, necklace, and pair of earrings. If we catch her when she’s on duty at the counter of Sandpiper, we try to drag her away from the other customers to share the story of her latest buttons and their metamorphosis into graceful, wearable works of art. And it makes us so happy when we see someone out on the street wearing one of her pieces (something that happens quite often).
Frances has fondly christened her handiwork her Button Jewels, showing in but two words how deeply she treasures these charming little buttons that have swept her off her feet. Of course, we agree with her wholeheartedly - these antique buttons are indeed worthy of sincere appreciation, regard, and (dare we say) even love!
Written by Laura Hockett