Wednesday, 12 September 2012

better than the real thing: vegetable ivory buttons

carved vegetable ivory faux fake buttons tagua nut palm button vintage old collection

Have you ever heard of vegetable ivory?

I did so through being a vintage button nut, but I'd never really knew what it looked like or what it really is except that it's meant to be fake ivory. So I didn't realize that in fact I had some in my button jars.

As it turns out I managed to accumulate a small collection of vegetable ivory buttons unknowingly, and now I'm pleased to show them to you here and share my equally small amount of knowledge about their material too.

It's fascinating actually.

Vegetable ivory is basically a hard nut that comes from the tagua palm tree.

Tagua nut in its many layers of shell via the Macrame Projects

When this nut is dry it can be carved like bone then polished to a shiny smoothness. It can hold extremely fine detail - and that's one giveaway sign of a carved vegetable ivory button.

Another sign is that the nut, even if colour-dyed, has fine watermark-like lines resembling ivory.

I love that some of the buttons I have are carved in a way that preserve a little of the dark textured peel of the nut.

And these pretty and interesting little nothings have nothing to do with all that cruelty to elephants.


  1. never heard of it! I love its "imperfect" look.

  2. I also had no idea! But I know this nut, and I have seen some jewerly made out of it. But never seen those nice buttons.


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