I love the unique buttons that Linda sells in her Etsy shop, The Hickory Tree. All sorts of wooden buttons and tags made from various tree branches. What beautiful, unique, natural buttons for any project!! You really must stop by The Hickory Tree and see them! First, let's get a bit of an insight into how Linda got into creating these natural creations.
What led you to start creating your art/craft?
I am a big sewer and like to make clothes for dolls and stuffed animals. I was up north at my parent’s cabin in Michigan a few years ago and my daughter and I were making clothes for a big stuffed bear that sat in my mom’s front room. I made the bear some suspenders but didn’t have any buttons to sew onto the straps. Town was 30 miles away so my mom made a comment that her dad; my grandpa use to make buttons out of tree limb slices way back when she was little, and so I decided to give it a try. The first buttons I made were crooked and way too thick, but still looked kind of cool. Later that week I made a few more batches for some Raggedy Ann dolls, that I was selling at a local craft show and a lot of people at the show were more impressed with the buttons than the dolls. In fact I got ten orders for buttons that day. I casually made buttons for some shows and friends for a few years, but after my son went to college and became a Forester in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan he found me some exceptional tree branches that were stunning when cut. Now he and I are partners, he helps me with locating unique tree branches while I do most of the cutting, sanding and packaging. Etsy has really helped my sales and I can’t thank this website enough.
How did you decide what medium you wanted to work with?
I loved working with wood and especially tree branches. I live on ten wooded acres where wood is in abundance and it really fits my personality as I am a Master Gardener and Arborist, and my son is a Forester in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I found that although I still like to sew, making wooden buttons and wooden gift tags is something I never tire of doing.
What aspect of creating your art/craft do you find the most enjoyable?
My favorite aspect is the hunt in the woods to find that perfect tree branch. Your adrenaline gets going and it is so much fun finding a hidden jewel among the trees. One of my favorite finds is spalted wood which is a tree limb that has fallen off a tree and is aging but not to the point where it is unusable. Tree branches must be thoroughly dried before they are used as a button or gift tag. If they aren’t they can crack and or shrink when they are drying. So the best kind of limb is one that has already fallen off the tree usually due to a storm or advanced age of the tree. Then when you get the limb home and cut into it, it is so exciting to see what the grain looks like. It’s quite exciting.
If you had to choose a fruit OR a vegetable, to describe your art/craft, what would you choose, and why?
I would choose a pomegranate because just like pomegranates, when you see a tree branch you have no idea what the insides look like until you cut into it.
If you had to choose one other medium in which to display your “creativity”, what would that be, and why?
I also love to sew, and recently made a landscape quilt for my son and future daughter-in-law's upcoming marriage. Landscape quilts are sewn to depict a picture rather than a pieced quilt where you sew small pieces of material together. I made a quilt that depicted a picture of the water and birch trees in the fall from a spot in the Keweenaw Peninsula in upper Michigan.
What message, if any, do you want to convey with your art/craft?
The simplest things in life can also be the most beautiful. You don’t need a lot of money or an abundance of supplies to showcase your talents or creativity. Just do it and don’t let anyone talk you out of it just because they don’t see your vision.
What advice do you have for other artists/crafters?
Do something you love to do and stick with it. I have been making tree branch buttons and tree branch gift tags for a few years now, and within the last year they have really taken off. They are becoming popular with other artists as well as non-artists.
Linda, what a fascinating interview! I can imagine the fun you must have walking through the woods looking for just the right branches with which to create your buttons and tags.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and creativity with everyone!