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In archaeology , a button can be a significant artifact. In the applied arts and in craft , a button can be an example of folk art , studio craft , or even a miniature work of art. Buttons are most often attached to articles of clothing but can also be used on containers such as wallets and bags.

On the button : the significance of an ordinary item

However, buttons may be sewn onto garments and similar items exclusively for purposes of ornamentation. Buttons serving as fasteners work by slipping through a fabric or thread loop or by sliding through a buttonhole. Other types of fastenings include zippers , Velcro , and magnets. Buttons and button-like objects used as ornaments or seals rather than fasteners have been discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization during its Kot Diji phase c.

Buttons made from seashell were used in the Indus Valley Civilization for ornamental purposes by BC. It is made of a curved shell and about years old.

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Functional buttons with buttonholes for fastening or closing clothes appeared first in Germany in the 13th century. Since at least the seventeenth century, when box-like metal buttons were constructed especially for the purpose, [5] buttons have been one of the items in which drug smugglers have attempted to hide and transport illegal substances.

At least one modern smuggler has tried to use this method.

Also making use of the storage possibilities of metal buttons, during the World Wars , British and U. Because buttons have been manufactured from almost every possible material, both natural and synthetic , and combinations of both, the history of the material composition of buttons reflects the timeline of materials technology. Buttons can be individually crafted by artisans , craftspeople or artists from raw materials or found objects for example fossils , or a combination of both.

Alternatively, they can be the product of low-tech cottage industry or can be mass-produced in high-tech factories. Buttons made by artists are art objects , known to button collectors as "studio buttons" or simply "studios", from studio craft. Nowadays, hard plastic, seashell, metals, and wood are the most common materials used in button-making; the others tending to be used only in premium or antique apparel, or found in collections.

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Historically, fashions in buttons have also reflected trends in applied aesthetics and the applied visual arts , with buttonmakers using techniques from jewellery making , ceramics , sculpture , painting , printmaking , metalworking , weaving and others. The following are just a few of the construction and decoration techniques that have been used in button-making:. The size of the button depends on its use. Shirt buttons are generally small, and spaced close together, whereas coat buttons are larger and spaced further apart. For example, some standard sizes of buttons are 16 lignes The American National Button Society NBS [21] has its own button sizing system which divides button sizes into 'small', 'medium' and 'large'.

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Hand-painted Satsuma ware self-shank button. The mainly American tradition of politically significant clothing buttons appears to have begun with the first presidential inauguration of George Washington in Known to collectors as "Washington Inaugurals", [33] they were made of copper , brass or Sheffield plate , in large sizes for coats and smaller sizes for breeches. Between about and , clothing buttons were used in American political campaigns , and still exist in collections today. Initially, these buttons were predominantly made of brass though horn and rubber buttons with stamped or moulded designs also exist and had loop shanks.

Around the badge or pin-back style of construction, which replaced the shanks with long pins, probably for use on lapels and ties, began to appear.

One common practice that survived until recent times on campaign buttons and badges was to include the image of George Washington with that of the candidate in question. Some of the most famous campaign buttons are those made for Abraham Lincoln. Memorial buttons commemorating Lincoln's inaugurations and other life events, including his birth and death , were also made, and are also considered highly collectible.

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Koumpounophobia, the fear of buttons, is a surprisingly common phobia. Sufferers frequently report being repulsed by the sight of buttons, even on other people, and being unable to wear clothing with them. Darkness divides opinion. Some are frightened of the dark, or at least prefer to avoid it, and there are many who dislike what it appears to stand for.

On the Button: The Significance of an Ordinary Item - Nina Edwards - Google Books

Others are drawn to its strange domain, delighting in its uncertainties, lured by all the associations of folklore and legend, by the call of the mysterious and of the unknown. The history of attitudes to what we cannot quite make out, in all its physical and metaphorical manifestations, challenges the notion that the world is possible to fully comprehend.

Nina Edwards explores darkness as both physical feature and cultural image, through themes of sight, blindness, consciousness, dreams, fear of the dark, night blindness, and the in-between states of dusk or fog, twilight and dawn, the point or period of obscuration and clarification. She reveals how the idea of darkness pervades art, literature, religion and every aspect of our everyday language. Darkness: A Cultural History shows us how darkness has fed our imagination. Whether a shifting concept or real physical presence, it always conveys complex meaning.

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The book is very well written, reminiscent of the work of Alexandra Harris and recognizably a descendant of Sir James Frazer. No kind of darkness is excluded from this cultural history — interior, exterior, metaphorical, racial, psychological, even abstract black humour — and, inevitably, there is much that is fascinating.