The Ugly, Stinking Truth
The photos below show the ugly truth about keeping buttons made of different materials in a closed container together. All of those great pictures on Pinterest of the brightly colored plastic buttons in mason jars, like the one above, may look good but give it time.
The truth is that plastics need to breathe. These buttons give off gases (commonly called off-gassing in button circles) that when trapped in a sealed container like a jar with a lid or a tin, lead to destructive results like those seen below. These gases cause chemical reactions which vary from material to material. Celluloid will crack and eventually break apart like the larger yellow buttons in the first photo. Metal will corrode/rust. Other types of plastics will actually melt and fuse together like those in the second photo below. Mother of pearl buttons will begin to break down and take on a powdery look.
Separation is Key
When I get a large group of buttons, the first thing I do is separate them and pull out the 'sharps' (i.e.; pinns, needles, tacks, etc.). Old muffin tins work great for this! After they are separated into different materials or types, then I can move on to the cleaning and storage stages.
Alternative Storage Methods
Mounting boards are a popular option for storage, especially among button collectors. As much as I love that method, it would be a monumental task at the very least for me to store mine in such a manner due to the sheer volume I work with and have on hand at any given time. There are times when I use ziploc bags to bag up small lots of plastic buttons, but these particular bags are different. They have numerous holes punched in them so the buttons can breathe. even though this is only temporary storage for them.
If you want to use mason or other jars to store your buttons, cover them with a piece of fabric and a piece of pretty ribbon or lace. Cork is another alternative, as long as it isn't airtight. You can easily punch a few holes in the cork to allow for breathing.
I store most of the buttons in open containers in dresser drawers or in storage systems with separate drawers, but I realize not everyone has the room or the need for this. There are buttons that I don't store 'open' and they the ones made of glass. Some people think I'm a bit nuts for the way I store these buttons (and they may not be far off), but the fact of the matter is they don't get chipped while in storage. ;) I have numerous sizes of small plastic resealable bags. Each glass button is placed into one of those bags, then the glass ones are stored together so they aren't banging around in the midst of other types. I take the best care possible of the buttons I acquire, as I know my home will not be their final destination. I am more than happy to do this so that I can offer an outstanding selection that is in great condition!
What methods of storage do you use? Feel free to share them in the comments section. I'd love to hear them!