I often embroider vintage beads and buttons into my paintings, and I was thrilled to come across some incredibly gorgeous antique glass buttons from Germany last week. The seller (on eBay, one of my best sources for vintage materials from around the world) recently bought out the entire remaining inventory of a defunct button factory that was owned by a Czech German button maker. The buttons were produced between 1947 and the 1960s; the factory closed in 1969. All of the buttons are exquisite, but I was particularly excited to find some nine-pointed stars in different colors:
I am always on the lookout for nine-pointed brooches, doilies, beaded medallions, buttons, etc. to use in my pieces, because the number nine holds significance for me. The nine-pointed star is often used as a symbol of completeness and perfection in the Bahá’í Faith because nine is both the highest single digit and the numerical value of the word “Bahá” in Arabic, which means “glory” or “splendor”. All Bahá’í temples have nine sides for this reason. Here is an aerial photo of the amazing Bahá’í Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India—I dream of visiting it one day!
A relatively large beaded painting of mine called “Victorian Collaboration” has a nine-pointed star in the center. I collaged an antique silk table runner with exquisitely embroidered roses and yellow fringe onto the canvas and painted a green-gold over its cream background in order to harmonize it with the canvas. I also added silk fabric transfers of photographs of roses and architectural details that I took at the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois—this beautiful spiritual place is a historic Chicago landmark and also the location of my wedding. “Victorian Collaboration” is special to me because it is the first large-scale beaded painting I created; I spent 180 hours on this 36″ x 48” canvas. I also love the fact that I was able to rescue and highlight a beautiful piece of Victorian-era needlework; I wish I knew something about its original creator, whom I consider my Victorian “collaborator”!