The Story about Corozo nut buttons
Also known as vegetable ivory, the scratch and water resistant corozo nut is a sustainable alternative with a natural grain that makes each button unique.
The history of buttons
Buttons and button-like objects were invented in the Bronze Age and were at that time used as an ornament rather than a fastener. In fact, the reinforced buttonholes as we know them weren’t invented until the mid-13th-century.
In 1918, the US government made an extensive survey of the international button market, which listed buttons made of vegetable ivory, metal, glass, sulk, linen, lead, pearl, rubber, wood, buckhorn, bone, leather, porcelain, tin, zinc and stone. In the 1920s, vegetable ivory accounted for 20% of the US button market and was especially popular for suits and shirts. The materials used for buttons have evolved with technology and plastic as well as composite materials are today the most common materials.
The Corozo nut
The fruit is large, about a full foot in diameter, mid to dark brown and completely covered with hard spikes. Each spiny husk contains on average 5-6 cavities. Vegetable ivory is naturally white and can be dyed in any colour, which often will bring out the natural grain. When dying, the colour will only penetrate the first layer of the material, meaning that when cut, you will be able to see the white layer within.
It can take up to 15 years for the Tagua palm to become mature but once it does, it can produce up to 20kg of seeds for up to 100 years and is therefore a renewable resource. Since the seeds can only be collected and used for making buttons when they are ripe, there is no need for deforestation.
The seeds have been used for making buttons since long before plastic was invented, making this an old and special craft.
When dying, the colour will only penetrate the first layer of the material, meaning that when cut, you will be able to see the white layer within.
So why are more brands not using corozo nut?
“At Blue de Gênes, we honour craftsmanship and use traditional ways of making clothes and for us, the corozo nut is the natural choice.”
How did the seeds end up in europe?
During the mid-1800s, trade routes between Europe and South America started flourishing. Wooden trade ships carrying many types of South American exports shipped down the pacific coastline, jumping from port to port to collect supplies and passengers. The wooden sailboats that were used for transport were filled with sand in the bottom to add stability while traveling the rough seas. As the ships collected goods, sand would be removed from the ballast to account for the added weight of the goods. However, the sand had a downside.