My interest in the Dorset Button industry was developed during my time as Chairman of two museums – Shaftesbury Abbey Museum & Garden and Gold Hill Museum. Social history has always been an interest of mine and Dorset Buttons stemmed from this interest. Having read the available history on these small simple buttons, and seen them in museum collections, I realised how important they were in shaping the livelihoods of ordinary people living in East Dorset. This interest grew into a passion and I not only learnt how to make Dorset Buttons, but also researched their history and the impact of national events on this cottage industry.
I learnt the techniques of how to make the basic Dorset Cartwheel Button from a kit, and developed my skills with the help of a master Dorset Buttoner, Joan Nicholls. From this basic button, I have since managed the skills of making all four types of Dorset buttons:
1. High Top and Dorset Knob: the first Dorset Buttons and made with sheep’s horn, fabric and thread
2. Birdseye and Mite: using just fabric and thread.
3. Singleton: made with wire rings, fabric and thread.
4. Dorset Cartwheel and Blandford Crosswheel: using wire rings and thread.