Monday, 28 February 2011

The First of our Fabulous Giveaways


This week we're giving away 5 sets of our cute bird buttons and 5 sets of our bunnies from our latest teeny tiny collection (total value $90).

All you have to do to win is be one of the first 5 people to write a comment about this post...even if it's as simple as 'choose me!' The other 5 winners will be chosen randomly from our 'followers.'

We would love you to sign up to follow our blog or leave a comment...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Sunshine Team



This is a picture of our 'sunshine team'. A fabulous group of women who have been working with us for many years and many of whom are the sole providers for their large families. Here they are pictured in their traditional dress. Different tribal families have unique headgear, colours, beading and adornments.



Once we had moved to Johannesburg and with the arrival of the eighties, Jen continued to make large pots and dinner services but slowly started to phase these out as the work was back breaking. She started to focus on smaller items. Beads and jewellery were the next big thing.

Then one night out of the blue, Jen woke up, promptly woke dad up and told him she'd had a good idea - and was going to start making buttons. Dad mumbled 'good idea' or 'go back to sleep' or something unremarkable, turned over and continued snoring.
Jen lay awake thinking about this new idea and was ready to tackle it first thing in the morning.

After throwing away shelf loads of failed attempts she was undeterred and slowly started to find the perfect combination of factors which we still use today to make our famous Incomparable Buttons.




Each button has to be individually handmade and dried in the African sun before the first firing. They are also all hand painted. This means that every button is unique. Each one a tiny work of art created with love and care. If you look closely you may even be able to see the artist's fingerprint on the back.

Incomparable Buttons are completely washable and incredibly durable. They are perfect for replacing generic plastic buttons or used on quilts, needlework and cross stitch. When so many hours of care and effort have been painstakingly put into a quilt or a hand knitted item, only the best handmade buttons will do.




They can be used purely for embellishment and will transform a plain item of clothing,  hat or bag into a special piece. The best part is that once the item of clothing is tired and ready for recycling, our buttons can be snipped off and used again. The possibilities are endless. 

Incomparable Buttons are fabulous & fun and delight both young and old alike.

And as our tag line reads: 'Why settle for plastic?'







Friday, 25 February 2011

Mad about Pots


Since my last post was all about the beautiful pots which Jen started out creating, and because I am visiting my parents at their house this weekend, I have been traipsing around their farmhouse, camera-phone in hand, snapping away at a few which they still have. Here they are - truly one of a kind.





Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Creative Genius

Jen Pascall is the creator behind Incomparable Buttons.




She may be my mum but I don't think I'm biased when I say she's absolutely stunning. And what an amazing, hard working, determined and selfless woman.

Jen started Incomparable from her garage many many (about 27, we've lost count) years ago. At that time we were living in Okiep, a tiny mining town in the middle of nowhere in the Northern Cape in South Africa.
Mum is a qualified teacher but with 3 children under the age of 4 she had her hands full.

After a short while, some of the other mining wives knocked on her door and told her they had an extra pottery wheel and it was very cheap and she should take it.
Now Jen's last experience of clay was when she was pregnant with me - and she disliked it intensely. The smell and feel of it made her feel quite ill and so she really had no interest whatsoever in taking the wheel.
Turns out the mining ladies of the Northern Cape are quite a tough bunch and they weren't taking 'no' for an answer. So Jen found herself the owner of a brand new pottery wheel (totally off-centre and without a motor!)
No worries to her, she wrote to her parents in Johannesburg and asked them to post a motor from an old sewing machine and with that she was ready to go.

Well almost. First a trip to the local library (biblioteek, or more affectionately the 'bib' to the local Afrikaans population) to take out a few books on pottery and throwing pots. Within a few weeks and after much trial and error and some manipulation of the off-centre wheel (and thus many wonky pots that were thick on one side and almost see-through thin on the other), Jen had a car boot full of pots ready for their first firing so off she went back to the ladies who had one kiln which was fired once a week. Of course, they were expecting a few ash-trays or pinch-bowls and were not prepared for the load that had arrived. Fortunately she was able to convince them to fire a few extra loads a week.
Within a few more weeks she was not only teaching herself from a book but also had a group of women who arrived for lessons and assured her that if she stay one chapter ahead of them all, that would be more than sufficient for them.
And with her beautiful designs and lovely soft blues, pinks and sandy golds, she was soon creating sought after works of art which people would fly in in their small aircraft to the local airstrip to come and buy. And so began at least a decade of crockery sets, serving platters, casserole dishes, lamp bases and vases.
Next installment will be how Jen moved from large pots to jewellery, beads and finally the Incomparable buttons we all know and love so well.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Getting Started

Welcome to the Incomparable blog. This is our very first post.

Incomparable Buttons has been around for over twenty years and we're finally catching up with technology. We hope you'll enjoy this journey with us.

We're going to use this blog to share the Incomparable story, all of our new products and exciting new designs with you. 
We also hope you will contribute to our blog. If you have pictures of our buttons in your stores, or of them used in a project or in your home, please email them to us on handmadesa@gmail.com and we'll share them.

For those who are unaware of the Incomparable story, we hope you'll enjoy it. For all our fans, thanks for your support. We're trying to bring you new designs to keep things fresh and exciting.

And to everyone around the world who has ever bought an Incomparable button, thank you for helping us to keep our team of wonderful women employed back home in South Africa.
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