Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Vintage belt buckles and buttons from great Aunt Myrta's stash + Robert Indiana, Japanese art and architectural details

Bakelite-era (1920's-30's) plastic belt buckles and buttons that belonged to my great Aunt Myrta (1896-1980).

The bright colors and geometric shapes-within-shapes make me think of Robert Indiana's work.

... I like how she threaded the matching buttons to the buckle.
Looking through the collection, I imagined her examining each piece the way I do, responding to the shapes, colors, sculptural qualities, the decorative details, perhaps thinking about which buckle or button might work with which fabric or dress pattern, because when she was young, either she or her mother made most of their clothes.

Japanese influence is everywhere in the design. Materials such as coral, jade, ivory and laquerware come to mind, as well as the colors seen in Japanese prints, like this one by Utamaro.

This diamond-in-oval motif reminded me of this curtain design from the book, "Japanese Detail: Architecture"  . by Sadao Hibi.

The cut-outs in these buttons brought to mind the wood slat detail in this window, an image from the same book.

It's interesting how such small things can tell us about a person's taste and affinities. Aunt Myrta must have really liked triangles because there are a lot of them, like these Deco pin/pendents.

 There are triangular pyramids...

... and pyramids in circles.
In the buttons above and below, the same motif  takes on a couple of different spins.

This metal button (there's actually a few of them) was a wild card in the bunch-- architectural details in the center surrounded by hearts. At first glance it struck me as being different than the other pieces, in both the material and decorative motif,  but if you think of the design as a geometric shape within a circle, it's consistent with the others.

     This is Aunt Myrta with her Franklin car, in a photo taken here in central Texas around 1915.  Love the outfit, and particularly the way she's slung the big belt loosely over her lightweight (probably cottton?) dress-- very Southern Girl-Goes-West.... the focus on the belt just might explain all the buckles she saved...