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Time is the Material

Dorset buttons were hand-stitched by women and children working at home in the area around Shaftesbury and Blandford in the county of Dorset. The industry thrived in 18th and early 19th centuries, but quickly became obsolete following the invention of button making machines in the 1850s. Families that depended on making buttons were destitute and many emigrated to North America in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Dorset buttons require few materials: a metal ring and a few metres of thread. The resource they do require is time. Each button in this piece took between one and two hours to make. Spending time to make a small everyday object cannot be easily measured through monetary value. The value of using time is the aesthetic appeal of each individual button.




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