This week we were joined by Lucy Baron, who shared with us her experiences in button blanket making. Lucy discussed how she started creating blankets after learning how to “button” when she was fourteen years old. She explained that at this time, she aided others in making blankets by sewing buttons on for them. Eventually, Lucy started designing her own blankets, taking inspiration from the dogwood flower and the tree of life. In answering a question posed by Peter Morin, our resident artist consultant, regarding the process of learning to work with buttons, Lucy stated that it was frustrating at first. However, in time, she learned to enjoy it and now appreciates this process as it brought her into contact with an art form that she loves.
One of the most powerful stories which Lucy shared with us involved the role that button blankets played in the period leading up to the end of the Potlatch Ban in the 1950s. She spoke of how her grandmother had blankets that were kept in hiding and that these blankets sat “waiting” for the ban to be over so that they may once again be used freely. Lucy also told us of the rush to create new blankets within her community of Alert Bay once the impending end to the ban had been discovered. Stories such as these illustrate the importance that button blankets have had on both a personal and societal level.
Below is a photo from Lucy’s visit. Note the dogwood flower and tree of life design on Lucy’s blanket!