This morning I opened up a red, Mrs. Fields’ cookie tin to uncover a treasure trove of buttons. I spent close to an hour sifting through its contents, setting aside ones I’d like to use in my sewing projects and putting the rest back to return.

They were gifted to me by my good friend and Broadway Wardrobe Supervisor, Kathleen Gallagher. That’s her professional title, but I call her my Guardian Angel and Benefactor. She’s helped me a lot in the months since I’ve begun creating my penny rug pillows. This offering of buttons was one of a long list of generous contributions to my growing appreciation of having Kathy in my life. I’ve got Broadway level talent stitching my pillow fronts to their backs, and Kathy loves handling my designs.

She’s recommended places to shop for beads, threads, pillow inserts and most recently markers that produce inks that will disappear with water when I no longer need them. She’s given me an organizer, seam rippers, and dozens of needles she no longer uses. I look at these as winks from the Universe. I started in a new direction and have been met with enormous generosity at every turn.

As I sorted through Kathy’s stockpile from her theatre days, I pondered how those red and yellow elephant buttons may have been used on a costume. There were two small baggies of suspender buttons, a distinction I’d previously been unaware of, but got me curious. Why would you need a special button for that job? Mostly what this sorting process did was to bring me more deeply into my present moment, to spark my imagination, and to give me utter joy in the process.

One clear packet took my breath away. It was labeled “Pillowman” and contained backup buttons for costuming in the Broadway production from 2005. I got that close to something that may have been worn by Billy Crudup or Jeff Goldblum.

This is what art–and its components–stirs up. Memories, connections, feelings.

The first time I realized the link between creativity and emotion was when a college chum pointed to a square on the handmade patchwork skirt she was wearing and said, “This fabric was from my bridesmaid’s dresses, and this one was leftover from the swim trunks I made my husband.” I got goosebumps and my heart fluttered. I didn’t know then that a textile medium was in my future, but that feeling of wanting a tangible, visual, aesthetic experience was.

Any surprises for you today, or during these 8 months of quarantine, that have provided joy? I believe we all benefit when someone experiences and shares their joy.

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