Today I'm re-posting an interview with Taryn from Wooly Moss Roots (from my blogger site). I've long been a blog reader & follower of hers, and admire her honesty with words and down to earth nature. Recently though, I've also had the pleasure of working with Wooly Moss Roots Buttons- you'll see them on my Calthulus Scarf (pictured above), Lupinus Cardigan, and Baler Cardigan. I'm so enchanted by their beautiful handmade buttons that I asked Taryn to share a bit more about them.
Bea: How did you get started down the road of button making?
Taryn: That's a very good question. I think one day we were at the local market where we sell our art and my husband Jeff said that he wanted to make some buttons. He's always made all sorts of things- from wooden journals and signs to small, intricately carved jewelry. It seemed only natural to add another pursuit to his woodworking creations. After having some of his handmade buttons in our booth, we got really great feedback. People were loving his buttons, so over time he just kept making more. Eventually we opened up a second Etsy Shop (www.woolymossroots.etsy.com) to give them a new home because they were taking over. Now that I knit so much, I'm pretty delighted to have a husband that makes such gorgeous and special buttons for my projects!
Bea: Where do you and Jeff find inspiration for the work you do?
Taryn: For Jeff I would say that he is inspired by the wood that he works with. You should see him out in his workshop when he slices wood, with wide eyes, saying “Hey, honey! Whoa, you gotta come see this one!” He really loves and appreciates beautiful woods and I'd say that he has passed that love on to me as well. We're blessed to live in a place (Oregon) with so many beautiful woods to choose from.
Something that really inspires me is seeing the projects that people make with our buttons. I can't begin to say how much I love that. It's amazing how some special buttons can really “make” a project. I also love looking through patterns on Ravelry that I want to knit and then dreaming up the perfect buttons for the projects.
Bea: I am quite captivated by your buttons. There is something about having a handmade button grace your hand knit that seems perfect. After all, we spend a lot of time on hand knits, having something equally special only adds to the beauty of the finished object. Could you tell me more about the process each individual button goes through?
Taryn: Thank you Beatrice, I'm in love with the buttons that Jeff makes too. With all he puts into them, it always feels wonderful to have them so appreciated.
The process starts with the wood. Some of the woods are from our own property. In that case, we need to let the wood cure before we can use it. Some woods we get reclaimed from other artist friends who give us leftover bits and pieces. When the wood is ready to work, Jeff slices them how thick he wants them and cuts out the shape he wants. Then he gets busy at his sanding machine. He sands each and every button by hand. He has to be really paying attention to what he's doing so he doesn't sand his fingers! These days he usually sands them on three grits to shape them and to get them really smoothed and polished. After that he brings them in the house for me to admire. I wash them in the kitchen sink to be sure to get all the wet wood dust off of them. Then we dry them off with a towel and let them dry for a few days (he sands them with a wet sander.) Some he adds woodburned designs to. After that he puts quite a few coats of oil on them to moisturize the wood and bring out the natural luster and brilliance in the grain. Then he polishes them. Then he usually brings them to me to mark the buttonholes. Then he drills them. Then we tie them on cards. And that's the part where our customers come in, and create beautiful projects to use our buttons on.
(By the way, you can see pictures and more details of the process in this post:
Bea: I have to ask- from one working at home creative mother to another- how do you do it? Is there a rhythm or balance to your days, or do your business/creative endeavors coexist somehow within your family life?
Taryn: The process changes as our son Bracken grows. When he was littler, I did all the marking of buttons and tying buttons on cards while he napped each day. These days I can actually do that when he is awake and hanging around. He is three (four in October) and likes to help tie buttons on cards for awhile (before he gets bored.) These days I reserve his nap time for my computer time. That's my one period of time to myself every day and there's always so much computer work to get done. I don't have time for it all, honestly, and sometimes it takes me longer than I'd like to reply to e-mails. During my computer time I write my blog, post new items in the shop, and respond to customers. When our local market is in full swing and our garden needs lots of watering, I don't get as many new items posted online. But if I keep plugging away over time than we eventually have a full shop! I try to be really efficient with the time I have. My husband Jeff is so productive that I have a hard time keeping up with him sometimes.
I'd like to say I have some kind of trick of some sort, but really I just go and mark some buttons while a meal is cooking or package up some orders quickly before naptime. I just squeeze in business things when I can, amongst daily life.
Bea: Do you have a vision for your product and/or business that you'd share?
Taryn: We'd love to be the “go-to” place for people to purchase buttons for their projects. I have a dream of expanding the line of fabric buttons that I'm currently making for our shop. I want to start offering sustainable fabrics and a much wider variety of choices.
As a small family business, we truly appreciate each and every customer who purchases from us and (as I said before) I delight in seeing people's projects with our buttons. Every time a customer tells me about the project they're making or shares a picture, I feel so grateful I get to be doing something I love- having a part in their creative project. I never knew I would love buttons so much.
Bea: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Taryn: Yes. Thank you for reading this and if you are on Ravelry, we'd love to invite you to join our group here:
Thank you for taking the time to share with us Taryn! (And if you haven't had the pleasure of working with Wooly Moss Buttons yet, you should make it a priority!)