Road trip

A while back the car pulled out and four ladies headed north two hours to Bishopville, SC, to see Pearl Fryar’s very special topiary garden. It’s still beautiful beyond an ordinary gardener’s imagination.

Once we were done admiring this very amazing garden, someone said we should find the Button Museum and check it out. Sounded good. My childhood memories of stringing buttons together to make holiday ornaments came to mind along with the idea of seeing old buttons versus current buttons, gold buttons versus pearl or wooden buttons.

We traveled a few miles, turned down a dirt road, and there was a small sign for the Button King Museum. At first, we thought it was closed, but a nice gentleman came out and invited us in. This gentleman’s father, Dalton Stevens, was the self-proclaimed Button King.

There were definitely lots and lots of buttons, but not exactly what we were expecting.

There were no buttons for sale, just buttons encasing a variety of items like a toilet and the space surrounding it.

Apparently Mr. Dalton had insomnia, and ย he sewed buttons on clothes and shoes for something to do. When he needed new challenges, he started on a car, a coffin, a hearse, and a variety of household and musical instruments. I’ve never seen so many buttons in my life and arranged so artistically.

Pearl Fryar’s topiaries I understand. Although, I couldn’t trim even one bush to remotely resemble his creations, I get it. The buttons just made me smile and shake my head because buttons to me mean closing a shirt or used as an embellishment. But, it sure was a trip that provided a lot of laughs. We even watched his visit on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Landscaping and button artistry, lunch out, and a fabric store stop – ah, a good day for the ladies.

There are also good opportunities for feeding my quilting addiction. A couple of us went to a quilting class last Friday on creating a small landscape wall hanging. Today, we’re off to the Coastal Carolina Quilters’ meeting and some new demonstrations, and on Friday is the Quilt Show. Lots of ‘thread’ for me this month.

What’s on your calendar this week?

About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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51 Responses to Road trip

  1. Fascinating, both sites, but — a button museum?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Murphy's Law says:

    Judy, the topiary garden is awesome. What a fine-tuned art it is to create one, and one so magnificent. If I had a topiary garden I’d never get anything done because I would be admiring it all day!

    I remember seeing Pearl Fryar on Johnny Carson. That was one helluva case of insomnia, don’cha think?! I can’t even imagine the patience and time required to plan out the button design for each of his projects. And good grief, thousands of buttons used. Did he buy them I wonder, or did people give him buttons? The button covered toilet? Nope, I don’t think so! I’d have to find a nearby gas station!! Lol.

    Great post my friend!
    ๐ŸพGinger ๐Ÿพ

    Liked by 1 person

  3. carolee says:

    Love Pearl’s gardens and the man himself…such a gentle person and his wife is lovely as well. When I was there, they’d just purchased the house next door to use as a gift shop. I’m wondering if you were there. Missed the button museum when I was in that area…what a hoot!

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    • He has a public restroom in a nice little garden style building, but I didn’t see a gift shop. There is a small grassed area across the street for parking now. My husband and I met Pearl two years ago and talked for quite a while with him while he sat on the back of his pickup truck. This visit we only spoke with a young man that was doing some work in the garden. Yes, ‘hoot’ is the right word for the button museum. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. My calendar is mostly lacking in fun this week. My friend Nancy is coming over to sort 2nd Time Around “stuff’ in the sewing room. Boy do we have buttons. They ARE fun to craft with. I’ve been doing some button sorting myself and playing with a variety of “art” ideas. No one seems to want the old buttons when they get donated, and I can’t bear to toss them. So maybe I should invest in an old caddy or coffin to embellish…..

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  5. A busy day indeed! There’s a really good doc about Pearl Fryar and his amazing gardens. Here’s a link, in case you haven’t seen the movie and would like to watch it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878134/

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  6. Joyce Gillis says:

    LOL The “biggie” on my list this week is a trip to Sam’s Club!
    Your button pics are great – it’s entry into a world most of us never visit. I think the “artist” suffered from a severe case of OCD, bless his heart! I’m curious about where he found all those buttons because – at least these days – a card of 6 of them isn’t cheap! Fascinating to ponder every aspect of this display. Once again, you’ve steered us into a sight and explanation I’d never see elsewhere!
    The topiary is wonderful! I’ll bet you felt like Alice in Wonderland strolling between those amazing shapes!

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    • I love those topiaries and just letting my mind think about all we could accomplish if we just didn’t keep saying ‘can’t.’ ๐Ÿ™‚ Those buttons just blew my mind. The sheer volume of them, and the artistic way they were attached. As a quilter, I do a lot of measuring, cutting, and then ripping because something isn’t straight. And, here are all these buttons just pretty darn straight to not only cover the items but to be pleasing to the eye. I’m thinking you are right about the OCD because I can’t imagine completing those projects without it.

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  7. Dan Antion says:

    Certainly different minds at work, but both stops had interesting and beautiful things to see. It certainly sounds like a wonderful road trip. The notion of a road trip always makes me smile, anyway, but this one sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Almost Iowa says:

    Lake Pepin is a 20 mile long lake on the Mississippi caused by silt from Wisconsin’s Chippewa River. For years it had a thriving industry making buttons from mussel shells.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    Both sound fascinating. I’ve seen articles about Pearl Fryer, but none about the button museum. What a positive outcome for insomnia!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Annie says:

    Pearl Fryar is absolutely amazing! How I wish I had his talent. Now for the button museum…. I sent all mine, my mother’s, my grandmother’s, and great grandmother’s buttons to my granddaughter or else I could have glued one smallish room… the powder room perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like you enjoyed your trip. The button museum sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. germac4 says:

    Who knew buttons could be used in so many ways! I still have my motherโ€™s jar of buttons & my grand daughter plays with them … not many toys last through that many generations! Have fun with your quilting… have you finished your card making class?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The button museum is certainly unique, but it’s a bit overwhelming for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I’ll choose the garden.

    This week? Went for a gorgeous walk in the snow at the park this morning, work Tuesday and Wednesday, and not sure what will be going on after that. Probably working on tax organization and household things. I’d love to go on a road trip!!

    janet

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  14. Nancy says:

    I have seen it all now!

    But a fun day was had! Those topiaries always amaze me. Such works of art!

    Such a wonderful post!๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Goodness! I inherited a couple of button tins from an elderly friend – now I know what to do with the contents. I wonder what Mr ET would think of a decorated toilet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oddment says:

    I don’t know which is more mind-blowing, the topiary garden or the button work. What is there about buttons, anyway? I kept my grandma’s tin of buttons and my grandchildren played with them just as I did. I have no clue why.

    Each of these creative people had a vision. I think that is admirable, and I’m thinking about your comment about the power of the word “can’t.” It does get in the way.

    Again, thanks for taking us with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. treadway says:

    Oh, my goodness! Those buttons almost make me laugh out loud! Yet I like them. Just would never in my wildest dreams have thought of doing something like that. And would love to have seen the gardens.

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  18. How very bizarre, but very colourful. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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  19. I really don’t much like either topiary or bonsai. It bothers me. I don’t hate it, but I don’t enjoy it, either. I love gardens that are designed to look wild. Drifts of flowers down a hill. Back when I could do more stuff, I loved planting. I miss it.

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  20. Oh my, what a day! Lucky to be visiting a place where gardens can be visited this time of year! We are having a tea and ‘viewing’ of a local residents button collection in early March. She just turned 90 and has been collecting buttons since she was a little girl. Her collection is quite extensive and sought after! I will have to share the info on the Button King with her, she’ll be very interested! Keep having fun, Judy!

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  21. KerryCan says:

    Ever since I read Stephen King’s book, The Shining, topiaries have given me the willies! But the buttons–I love the buttons!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Ally Bean says:

    I saw your button-full photo on IG and wondered where the heck you’d been. This is amazing. And delightfully quirky. Thanks for sharing it here. Flip city!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Joanne Sisco says:

    OH MY! This takes buttons to a whole new level ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I am in awe of what someone can do with a little imagination and a glue-gun!

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  24. Wow! I’ve seen a coke bottle house, but never anything with this many buttons!

    Sounds like a great day out.

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  25. joey says:

    Fun stuff! I love a good road trip. The Button King is to buttons what I can be like with a stencil brush — obsessive. Also, I like buttons ๐Ÿ™‚

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  26. I have a friend who collects buttons, so I’ll be sending a link to this post. My G-d, Mr. Dalton had the patience of Job to do all that! – Marty

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  27. tonytomeo says:

    Wow, I only recently saw the documentary ‘A Man Named Pearl’.

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  28. That sounds like a perfect day! I love the topiaries but those buttons are amazing! His creations are like glass mosaic art… but with buttons.

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